By Scott Rogers
A lot of hue and cry over the last few weeks has been on poor or dirty tackling, and how can it be controlled. Many players and managers have had their say but the the matter remains unclear... is tackling a dying art? Is the attention it has been recieving a bit unfair? The two real talking points of the season are the broken legs sustained by Bobby Zamora and Hatem Ben Arfa. However both of the tackles that caused these injuries weren’t even deemed as fouls by the referee. There has been far worse tackles this season that haven’t resulted in injury, so perhaps we should just accept that some amount of injuries are a part of the game and not as directly a result of poor tackling as they are made out to be.
Certain sides and managers have been highlighted for using aggressive tackling, which I believe is wrong as for some sides their strengths lie in getting stuck in and putting the opposition under pressure. So if Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal can play to their strengths by playing attacking football then why cant sides such as Stoke and Blackburn play to theirs? Players such as Danny Mills and Danny Murphy have had their say about teams being too physical but when those two used to be known for getting stuck in, I don’t see how they can blame anyone else for doing the same. Sides such as Stoke who have been highlighted for their aggressive nature need to use such tactics in order to compete with the top sides in the division. They do not have the resources to compete in terms of playing nice football so instead they need to put their opponents under pressure in order to try and get a positive result. These tactics can cause serious injury as we have seen but those cases are rare. But somehow only the serious injuries seem to be spoken about rather than when a hard but fair game is played and no injuries are recieved.
I see tackling as one of the things that English football in known for along with a really quick tempo. There is no reason why we shoudln’t use our strenghts both in European competitions and with our National team because if we can do this against Spanish and Italian sides then it could lead to more success. Although it wouldn’t be the best thing to watch, if it brings success I am sure many people would be satisfied. I also believe that a good tackle or a really physical match can be the fun to watch, and theres nothing more fans love than one of their players getting stuck in. So if we love to see these things, and its a integral part of the game, we just have to accept that sometimes injuries are going to happen.
However, at the same time nasty challenges have to be punished severely to make sure that they don’t happen too often. If that happens, then I am sure people would be much more comfortable about two players going in for a big tackle, rather than worry about a serious injury. No doubt even in clean tackles injuries can still be sustained by players landing awkwardly or the inevitable collision between two players that go in for a tackle. But just because these collisions take place doesn’t mean that a player has commited a foul - its a part of the game. I can confidently say that a large majority of the players never intend to hurt an opponent and if this is not the case then the players responsible should be banned from the game as it is them that give tackling a bad name.
I think the arguement about tackling has been highlighted perfectly by Arsenal recently as Arsene Wenger is the first to complain about teams being too physical. Which is quite understandable, due to the injuries that some of his players have sustained in the past few seasons, but just because it has happened before, doesn’t mean it will happen every game. After making these comments about other teams and players, two of his players where highlighted for making bad tackles at the weekend which led to Jack Wilshere being sent off. And I think he could also have been sent off last night especially when you consider what red cards are given out for these days. This lead to Wenger saying that the tackles where not typical of the players. Perhaps he should consider that when it is one of his player’s on the end of a similar tackle, rather than complaining about the opposition being too rough.
I feel that tackling should be encouraged rather than condemned as it is one of the fine arts that English football has to offer and when it is done correctly it can provide some of the best entertainment in the game. I don’t see any reason why tackling can’t be better coached into players. Practice makes perfect, and the game could do with more players in the mould of Roy Keane who get stuck in and showcase that legendary English grit that we all are proud of...