Ramsey’s Injury Puts English Football At The Crossroads
Robert Johnson reputedly sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads near Dockery Plantation. English football today stands at a crossroads. The Devil we know in one direction, the righteous path to improvement another and the third, no-one dare look down.
Each week, the Premier League serves up a mixed fare, the spectrum served from the passing game of Arsenal through to the routine, long ball variant of Blackburn, Bolton and their ilk. In that mix, there is a speed and physicality unmatched by other countries domestic games. Some matches are good, others turgid.
Sometimes there are incidents which ought to force contemplation. Aaron Ramsey’s injury is one of those. One quote sticks in my mind, the imagery vivid. Ramsey’s national team manager, John Toshack, said:
It is a horrific injury, it makes you want to vomit. It is a sad and unfortunate incident. I saw the aftermath of the injury and I thought ‘oh no.’ I still haven’t seen the incident on TV, I have just seen the disturbing photographs in the newspapers and you can imagine how I felt
When a man who has been involved with football for over forty years feels so strongly about an injury, something somewhere has to be wrong. Toshack has seen colleagues and players injured similarly throughout the decades – I remember seeing a Swansea player under his charge break a leg, the sound so loud it could be heard 100 yards away over the crowd’s noise (Phil Boersma, I think it was) – so the injury should not be taken lightly.
Ryan Shawcross has had more character witnesses than he would need at a trial. The manner is which football is closing ranks is sickening. The excuses, trotted out by the ‘great and good‘ defy belief, especially as this is not the first time he has been involved in this type of incident.
A lot has been written, most of it utterly contemptuous drivel from those who make a living leeching from the sport, passing themselves off as pundits. Hits have to be achieved to satisfy advertisers and there should be no surprise that the media has sought to defend the player. If tackles did not fly in, referees would have an easier job and find it harder to make mistakes. What would ex-players talk about if the officials did not get it wrong.
That Arsene Wenger is being held as some sort of scapegoat is unbelievable. Sensationalism has blinded all but a few in the media to the real issue. That is the cross that they have to bear. Accusations of xenophobia are not easily shaken in these circumstances.
The real culprits thought are the coaches, not just of Premier League sides but at all levels, junior, amateur, semi-professional and professional. The mentality of the English game is to ‘go in hard’. It was when I played; nothing has changed.
Little time is spent on technique, how to control a ball, how to tackle properly. Following that mantra will change nothing, deny future England national teams any chance of real success until 1966 becomes an extraordinary one-off. Playing the game properly needs to be engendered from school age.
My children are lucky; their football teacher wants the ball played on the deck – perhaps being a long-suffering West Ham fan means that he wants the game played in the manner of teams under Greenwood and Lyall. I look back to my days in youth football and realise now how fortunate I was, a similar outlook at the club I played for. Credit to those coaches who insisted football was played properly.
Until English football changes, Aaron Ramsey will not be the last player to be badly injured.
Posted on March 2, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Ryan Shawcross, Soccer. Bookmark the permalink. 236 Comments.