Stone Cold Friday: Anti-Football As A Way Of Life

The offspring had their school mass last weekend. Sat next to a man who claimed to be from The Valleys, thought I’d be impressed by his singing. I think he may have been lying to me about his birthright because the last Welshman to hold note that bad was Mickey Thomas and he got 18 months. Here’s Darius with his thought for the week…

International breaks bounce from the injury lottery to mind-numbing lack of good old fashioned club football. Managers up and down the league are reduced to waiting for a count of the walking wounded as the players trickle back in from their expeditions. Injuries sustained on international duty have become an occupational hazard that seems to be here to stay.

What is more concerning, particularly in England, is the more critical issue of players being assaulted on the pitch. Some may have you believe that this is good old fashioned tackling, but let’s call it for what it is; mindless and reckless endangerment of other professionals resulting to actual or grievous bodily harm.

In less than two months in the Premier league alone, players have had their legs and ankles broken more times than most married couples have sex. What is more baffling is the intransigence shown by observers, pundits, hacks and the football public at large in accepting that this is actually a problem.

A lot of respect has to be given to the Dutch national team manager Bert van Marwijk for showing courage and addressing the issue. The English FA reverted to type and took the cowardly position of claiming that they don’t want to re-referee an incident that a referee chose to do nothing about.

A few weeks ago, Arsène Wenger incurred the wrath of an establishment who were not even prepared to listen to what he actually had to say about bad tackles. He was called a whinger who was only interested in bringing his tippy-tappy style of football to a game supposedly for men. He was accused of having soft, brittle boned players who were more suited to netball than the hard tackling, blood and thunder nature of a proper man’s game.

In one incident on the radio, a shamelessly Arsenal hating pundit, who surprisingly played for Arsenal in the 70s unleashed the mother of all tirades against Wenger. You wouldn’t be mistaken to think that he was being paid to deride the Arsenal manager with such disdain and contempt.

“He’s just a whinger. We’re tired of listening to his purist agenda. This is a man’s game and it’s a contact sport. How dare he think he can come to this country and change the way football is played”

This pundit was challenged on air about whether he actually read what Wenger was saying as opposed to just the twisted headline that suggested the Arsenal manager wanted to outlaw tackling. And if the pundit indeed read the article, was he suggesting that dangerous tackles that stop a player’s career or that break legs and ankles were acceptable? The climb-down was spectacular as it became increasingly clear that the chap hadn’t even read the actual article.

What compounds the issue is that when an incident happens, the establishment closes ranks and defaults to self-preservation mode. Player honesty, passion and commitment are offered as substitutes for responsibility and duty of care to fellow professionals. Victims are blamed for being too quick, not being skilled enough to ride a tackle and believe it or not, in some cases, they’ve been accused of having small and weak bones that are not fit for purpose.

We are told that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes of violence against association football have no single nasty bone in them, and that they have absolutely no intent. My argument is that intent is immaterial. By being reckless and irresponsible, you lose your right to argue whether you had the intent or not. It’s depraved indifference.

Take the case of someone who regularly drinks and drives. They know it’s against the law, but the environment they live in allows them to operate to the limits of that law. Whenever that person enters their vehicle after leaving a pub while drunk, they have absolutely no intention of killing or maiming someone. They simply want to get home in most cases.

The fact of the matter is the minute they start driving under the influence, they’re in charge of a lethal weapon that they have no control over. Intent can never be a factor in arguing the depraved indifference of such a person. Even if they get away with not having an accident, the law of averages dictates that it’s only a matter of time before they kill or maim someone.

The English FA, the Premier league, the managers, the referees, the media and the pundits have all conspired to create an unacceptable environment that is an accident waiting to happen. Week in, week out, players are unleashed onto the pitch with instructions to push the laws of the game to the limit in order to survive or to win matches. They are like drunk drivers handed the keys to the SUV and told to hit the highway.

What happens has nothing to do with intent. It has nothing to do with honesty, commitment or a style of play or brand of football. It’s depraved indifference. When thuggery and violence is accepted as a substitute for not knowing how to play football, and when you cultivate a culture where it’s expected that you will show physicality supposedly to prove your manhood, then the results are inevitable.

It was good to see the Fulham captain yesterday in a football leader’s seminar directly mention the ‘Premiership 3’ (would have been 4 if Phil Brown was still gainfully employed. Danny Murphy claimed that Allardyce, Pulis and McCarthy are directly responsible for the recklessness of their players and for pumping up the players to do battle instead of playing football. The injuries are inevitable. Clearly, there’s a law suit or an apology demand coming his way.

The ‘Premiership 3’ couldn’t do any worse than learn from West Bromwich Albion and Blackpool that you don’t need to resort to violence and thuggery to win football matches; you just need to play your game.

Kudos to Roberto De Mateo and Ian Holloway for promoting the virtues of the game, despite the fact that the odds are stacked right against them. It is this football philosophy that can see them winning games against Arsenal and Man City, and Newcastle and Liverpool respectively.

My sense is that more and more technically gifted players are now becoming consciously aware that playing in England might shorten their football careers. Something has to be done about this issue – and I’m afraid that until one of the golden generation of English players gets their leg broken or their career ended by one of these hatchet men, then absolutely nothing will be done. It’s a man’s game after all, isn’t it?

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on October 8, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 163 Comments.

  1. I miss arsenal football.

  2. Good article. I think it’s hard to compare drunk drivers with tackling badly, but the manner that these guy’s go out on the pitch with one thought in their heads. Stop the opponent at what ever cost. It’s the same as kicking down someone that’s through on goal. You know the cost but you take it for the team. A red card but maybe a win. Player’s doesn’t get the call from the manager saying kick this fella until he can’t stand up anymore, but they get the instruction to not let this player hurt your team. Stop him. When you put this together with the bubbling adrenaline and a furious pace of football. Voila it is a broken leg or a broken jaw, and a shattered player career.

  3. The thing is you can play hard and dirty without flying in at 100 mph, It seems players nowadays cant even be bothered to be clever about it.

  4. The analogy of the drunk driver is perfect.

    People don’t like it because it makes them feel uncomfortable, and they’re continually fed the “it’s not that bad” line by the media.

    TThe fact of the matter is that both actions are irrepsonsible and reckless, can cause massive physical damage and lead to life-changing results.

    As far as I’m concerned there is abosultely no difference between a drunk driver and his “lack of intent”, and a shawcross with his “lack of intent”.

    Both behave in a reckless and irresponsible manner without due regard for the consequences of their actions.

    Their managers are just as culpible.

    If bar tenders or pub owners can be held liable for drunken patrons driving after being in their establishments, then managers who encourage over the top behaviour are equally guilty.

    It’ ime to take the gloves off with people who amount to no more than oxygen thieves.

    I don’t care how sick and tired of hearing the same old thing these half-wits are.

    If they still don’t understand then we are going to have to continue until such time as they either get out of the game or get with the program.

  5. Great article, nothing riles me more than when youe see the after match interviews of pulis defending his players when he knows he has specifically asked them to put it about a bit. the prime example is karl henry, he nearly ended joey bartons career in one match, no punishment and a pat on the back from macarthy 1 point in the bag, he is involved in the challenge that broke zamoras leg the following week (widely accepted as not his worst challenge but still from behind), no punishment and a pat on the back from macarthy 1 point in the bag! we then hear the same nonsense that he isnt a dirty player…the last week he literally tries to mame gomez, it was assault! no pat on the back and no points! he was an accident waiting to happen like your drink drive analogy! these managers need to learn to earn points playing football you have to play football! the premiership 3 have some exciting players that i feel sorry for!

  6. I like when they say “he got the ball” ergo it must be a fair tackle even if the player is on a stretcher on the way to the infirmary.

    That’s like saying, the car never hit the person therefore it wasn’t dangerous driving – so it must be OK

    More importantly, the rules of the game categorically outlaw dangerous tackcling and tackling with excessive force as these clearly endanger the welfare of fellow professionals.

    Getting the ball is not a ‘catch all’ to let dangerous play off. But a narrative is constantly peddled in this country that if you get the ball, then the tackle must be OK.

  7. Agree totally Darius.

    The laws state that the sanction for reckless play that endangers either another player or yourself is a dismissal.

    So it’s not about whether contact was made or anything of that nature.

    I find the hypocrisy absolutely gob-smacking when people point at Patrick for his red cards.

    I disticntly recall a specific case where he went in to a tackle miles away from hamann, who had tostretch to stamp on Patrick’s leg as he went past.

    Patrick was in no way endangering hamann, and I tin he got the ball as well, but despite the very clear replays, Patrick was labelled as a dirty player, and no mention was made of hamanns efforts or the fasct that he “got the ball”.

    The media and pundits are pure scum, and need to be treated as such.

  8. Sorry, typing in a small window and I see I am making plenty of errors in my posts.

  9. Furious Styles

    car analogies are the best analogies

  10. ‘He got a bit of the ball there so…..(add tired and lazy cliche that betrays pundits lack of knowledge of the laws of the game)’.

  11. Who was the radio pundit?

  12. The thing is, we mostly ever see these terrible tackles at certain stadiums, by certain teams, coached by certain managers.

    You just have to ask why the FA tolerates this nonsense.

  13. Chas, Dr Fox.

  14. A La Chas, who was the radio pundit??

  15. The radio punk was Bobby Gould. And I don’t know whether to get bemused or worried – the person who actually challenged and dressed him down live on air was Ginger Durham – Jack Wilshere’s new agent and a fully paid, card carrying member of the Anti-Arsenal Society. Give Durham his credit though – throughout that saga, he batted gallantly for Wenger’s case.

  16. It’s Galling,sickening and infuriating to see(KNOW) that the F.A will do fuck all…It’s as you said We’ve to wait until one of the “Golden Genration’ is broken..Danny Murphy has to be applauded..Me thinks the BBC are doing/have done a feature on the current malaise….

  17. If Shawcross was a motor, he’d be a Transit with bull bars.

  18. Typical article illustrating anti-football on BBC Website: “Scotland aim to frustrate Czechs, says Darren Fletcher” The Czechs claim their last game against the Scots was “pretty unpleasant”.
    Will we see Rosicky back in one piece?

  19. Darius,

    “True wit is nature to advantage dressed,
    What oft was thought, but ne’re so well expressed” (Alexander Pope)

    Spot on.

  20. The FA tolerate it because they ain’t got the balls to stand up for whats right. Also, there are various managers in the league who support the wreckless nature of their players, and, with the Premierships ‘fine’ reputation for being the quickest and toughest league at stake.

    It is quite frankly a joke, they accept such wreckless players, but don’t have tha balls to show the consequences of their tackles on Live television or on MOTD so the whole world can see what THUGS these managers and players are…??

    There is no hiding behind it now, the foreign managers in the league are in greater numbers. Skillful players in greater numbers – more and more falling victim to players with no technique but applauded for wrecklessness. Soon the FA will surely do something. Even Mark fucking Hughes has complained!

  21. ….with dodgy brakes

  22. Just listened to TalkSport on my way to work this morning and its the same debacle over and over again. Its really annoying and sad at the same time when you realize the amount of of xenophobia, misinformation and stupidity these people throw about you wonder how in God’s name they ever became pundits/presenters in the first place. No excuse is acceptable. A bad tackle is a bad tackle. It doesn’t matter if it is from a Karl Henry, a Ryan Shawcross or a De Jong. Shawcross broke Ramsey’s leg and he was branded ‘not that kind of player’, ‘honest’, ‘down to earth’ player who wont hurt a fly, yet De Jong breaks a player’s leg and he is the poster boy for reckless tackling. Some have even gone as far as labeling him a criminal, mentally unstable and should be banned. Wenger says it in his press meetings, and he is labeled a whinger, but when a foreigner breaks a leg and they now say it, it seems as if they just came up with a great idea. Its just ridiculous! The crux here is not a matter of intent, its a matter of recklessness and consequence. The Italian league is known for there overly defensive game, yet we don’t hear of broken legs over and over again. And the argument that if you let the likes of Arsenal play their passing game without getting in their faces you will be beaten off the park is just stupid. WBA beat us because they played their game without being reckless about it. Sadly, we’ve got an FA who wont want to ‘tinker’ with a ‘winning’ formula. Until a Lampard or a Gerard or a Rooney gets his legs snapped into two by player more suited for the MMA, do not expect any change any time soon…

  23. Femi.

    Alan Brazil is probably high most of the time anyway. Don’t know if it’s a good idea to take him seriously. The sad part is that he probably has hundreds of thousands listening. It’s probably equally as dangerous as the actual reckless challenges

  24. John,

    Sadly, I fear not. The Scots typify the road that English football, (un)ably conducted by the FA, has driven down. A road that terminates in the “men’s game” that we all recently saw so ably demonstrated in South Africa. They’ll compensate for their lack of ability with aggression and the related degradation of the entire sport and its values.

    You’d think that that alone would be grounds for a rethink: unless your dad’s a Spuds manager and you’re busy supporting a campaign to promote him and oppose his most obvious opponent: sorry for the aside but that little … pundit has really been getting on my mammeries recently.

    Anywhose…

  25. LOL! Brazil is justifying this thuggery on radio because the argument is that you are not supposed to let teams like Arsenal play. Duh! WBA and Blackpool didn’t resort to violence to survive…p

    According to him, Danny Murphy is picking on the ‘Premiership 3’ – boo hoo hoo – poor them.

  26. I think Wilshire needs to step up and lead England in the right direction. When we play Man Utd next, instruct him to break Rooney’s leg, then we will say he is honest, young and naive, always plays the ball, not that kind of player, a gentlemen, and honestly aggressive..

    I wonder how everyone would react to England’s young sensation snapping England’s great flop…!?

    Honestly speaking… its not nice to see such incidents, and I too only think the ENGLISH authorities will only do something when an English lad gets crocked. Thats the sad truth about our pathetic FA. Ben Arfa was a very talented kid, one we was linked to at the time of getting Nasri… Ramsey was the brightest prospect for Wales, just turning in stunning displays for the Senior team. Eduardo, Zamora… how many more will have the careers potentially taken away from them? Had Zamora been an International regular we would have seen a bigger response no doubt..

  27. femi, To be fair De Jong has been an animal for a long time, his ‘tackles’ have been ridiculous.

  28. Lets all cry for Stoke, Blackburn, and Wolves who continually set out to break players legs!

  29. Where the driving analogy falls down for me in that a drunk driver truely has no intent to cause harm whatsoever. The only bad tackle I’ve seen recently which could fit such an analogy is Joe Cole on Koscielny. It was a bad challenge yes, but I don’t think Cole was even intended to catch Kos. Other tackles which are of this mold would be the Gallas-gate one for last season against Bolton

    For the Shawcross (sorry kid but you and your mum can still get fucked for all I care), Henry, Robinson, and Cahill tackles a far more apt analogy is that of murder.

    Let’s say you punch someone and that person unfortunately dies as a consequence of your punch. No you didn’t mean to kill the person, but you certainly meant for the person to know he’s been struck. For me, this is the same as all those ‘hard’ tackling fucks who are sent out there to get in faces and let them know they’re there. The tackles they go in for are meant to hurt the opposition, meant to give them pause for thought. Sure these tackles probably aren’t meant to break legs, but they are definately meant to hurt, and so the is intent is there.

    The most annoying thing is the rules are sufficent to punish players for such intent, they’re just not being enforced by the referees and the FA are doing FA to change this. Last season, I emailed the FA about the quality of refereeing and got a bS reply. Perhaps if there were enough of us doing it regularly that may cause a change, but who knows.

  30. I don’t normally agree with you but i think what danny murphy had to say was correct and took courage because he will get flack off the anti football brigade for doing it. It will be interesting to see if Hughes backs him on this…

  31. Excellent article Darius.

    Cudos to Murphy as well. It is refreshing to hear a current player speaking sense and not spilling our the normal cliched soundbytes. I can’t see anything changing though, the FA are too stuck in their ways.

  32. http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=830619&sec=england&campaign=rss&source=soccernet&cc=5739

    Shawcross defending De Jong and Kenry… hes obviously aspiring to get into comedy after his football days are over!

  33. I don’t always agree with Murphy’s opinions, but I have to applaud him for coming out on this subject. Nothing but massive respect for the guy

  34. @ James, I am definitely not defending De Jong or any MMA styled player for that matter. De Jong’s judo kick in the world cup would have earned him knock out move of the night in MMA (and I do love my MMA), but its totally unacceptable in football. If you slide in 5 minutes into a game like he did on Ben Arfa the other day, its more than reckless. Its crazy! But my argument is that we shouldn’t just put the whole blame on the player. Blame the system that allows and encourages this kind of barbaric style of football in the name of ‘preserving our national game’. I heard the other day another stupid pundit saying something like ‘ its these foreigners that are messing up our national game. Who is moaning all the time about tackling, foreigners. All they do is moan!’ And that was from an ex player! And the excuse that a its the victim’s fault for not knowing how to ‘ride’ a tackle! God! Quinny went as far as saying Walcott was too stupid to ‘ride’ the tackle when Karl Henry left his studs planted firmly into his legs. And they wonder why England haven’t won anything since 1966…

  35. I agree Gadget.

    It is more a case of ‘ reckless endangerment’ than drink driving.

    The intent does not matter, it is the risk that you choose to take when you launch into your ‘tackle’. It is not an accident.

  36. Good article. I agree that Bert van Marwijk deserves credit for dropping De Jong, but he is far from guiltless when it comes to cynical foul play. This was the man in charge of a Dutch side which cynically kicked its way through the last World Cup. More than that, in the face of all the subsequent condemnation he didn’t drop the most persistently brutal player, Mark van Bommel (his son-in-law, by the way), but promoted him to captain.

  37. I know everyone is saying that nothing will change until one of the golden generation get crocked, but the fact is it will never happen to them. These thugs and their brutish managers are basically cowards and they selectively choose who they go in hard against and it will not be against one of their own because the shit storm that would generate would be far too much for them to take.

    These tackles are against the rules, referees just need to do their jobs and enforce them. The thugs only get away with it because they are allowed to. If referees started enforcing the rules and punishing tackles appropriately they would have nothing to gain by continuing down this road.

  38. “Depraved indifference” does not really define it. Better with “British grit” that those in Britain are so proud of. It would fit if the perpetrator of “British grit” is an intelligent footballer. These days, you have mad unintelligent managers pumping up the volume inside young and equally unintelligent players to go out and show “British grit” to foreign born players, which no doubt there are not a few in Arsenal.
    Grit is no substitute for skills or technical ability. It shows the decline of a civilisation, who once ruled the waves but now has to resort to leg-breaking tackles just to stay in a match.
    Grit will not win you the World Cup nor the Euro. History shows us that.
    Grit will not win you as many matches as would skill.
    Grit is encouraged by a football authority with a declining stature, who is eager just to sell the game to tv world wide.
    Grit is macho English behaviour. Anyone who speaks out against Grit is seen as weak. Even victims are sissies. Perpetrators are heroes.
    This is the beginning of the end of English football’s appeal.

  39. With regards to Van Bommel… I don’t think there is a better representative of wreckless foulplay

  40. I think you mean “reckless” CG

  41. Thanks Furious, think I have always wrote it like that for some reason!

  42. wrote or written?

    lol, just realized my writing has gone down hill badly

    Anyway onto footy matters, any notable games worth watching?

  43. “When I was a player people referred to me as The Destroyer,” he acknowledges. “Managers said to me: ‘If you pass one good ball in 90 minutes it’s a bonus.’ The game was different then. Me and [the Blackburn Rovers manager] Sam Allardyce were in the same sort of era.”

    – Noel Blake.

    Now I know why the U19’s didn’t quite look right against Spain for me (that’s a personal opinion).
    But, the old skool ‘bruising’ he refers to, is the not the same issue as that discussed above, referred to by Danny Murphy.
    Fat Sam’s Ballackburn (Ballack does not play for them, but he should) seem like old skool Bruisers, on steroids. And we all know what effect steroids have on a person’s judgement, even the new ones. On the It’s Up for Grabs podcast they mentioned the er, pinching, sly headbutts, etc that players like Keown and Adams would commit. Painful? Yes. Career threatening? No. Baresi was the alleged master of the ‘ghost foul’, and not many dipute his ‘greatness’ as a footballer.

    As for why the England u-19’s & u-21 coaches have chosen to ignore Arsenal’s players (No Lansbury and friends, JW only into U-21’s only after a brief loan spell at Bolton Crap Pot FC I think)? I can only guess, but I think most Arsenal fans agree that they’d prefer it if they left them alone!

  44. Sorry about the long comment.
    Thanks Darius, great post.

  45. Spot on as usual Darius. I’ve always thought the managers were as much (if not more) to blame for these shocking incidents. With the Eduardo ‘tackle’, Taylor’s first reaction was to look at the dugout towards McLeish with his arms out as if to say “I did what you wanted and look at what’s happened”, well, that was my take on it anyway.

  46. Well done, Darius. Keep fighting the good fight!

    Passenal, completely agree about the targetting of certain players, and I completely agree about the cowardice – but for me it is less about not attacking ‘one of their own’ per se (althought I’m sure that’s part of it) – the more strikingly, obviously, gaping hole in the “he’s not that type of guy – it’s just a complete, freak accident” argument that we, and justice, get fobbed off with so infuritatingly – is that it’s always, always the flair players that are targetted. Ramsey, Eduardo, Theo, Diaby… for starters. Zamora (ok, flair might be the wrong word, but certainly an attacking threat), Ben Arfa, Dembele, Gomez…

    Obviously you can say that a flair player is going to have the ball at his feet more, and in the proximity of defenders defending their own goal (well… Ramsey, Gomez, Dembele, Zamora weren’t anywhere near the opposition’s goal posts, but still…) but when it is always the attacking players on the recieving end can’t we then say that there is intention there? The intention of a less technically skilled player to ‘impose’ themselves on the more skilled opponent?

    I’m not sure what exactly but I think there’s something in it… the trend is too obvious for it to go unchecked. The plea of ‘accident’ loses more and more credibility with each new injury (if it ever had any). How long can something go on being called an accident if it keeps happening over and over without anyone doing anything about it?

  47. Stop apologising for your long posts please, Finsbury. It makes verbose old fuckers like myself look bad.

  48. Finsbury / LA,

    Are your posts availible in paperback !!!

  49. Andy Wilkinson is probably my least favourite human being in sport at the moment. Remember him coming through Traore like a tonne of bricks, trying to impress his mate Ryan? We said on here then that he was an accident waiting to happen, and sure enough, next season on – Moussa Dembele feels the pain.

    http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/FatFl9PYe11/Arsenal+v+Stoke+City+Premier+League/Mf_1cOK2zTs/Andy+Wilkinson

    Pulis reminds me of Neville Bartos from the film Chopper… feeding his attack dogs with amphetemines to get them all worked up.

  50. Sorry LA!

    I think in the end, only some kind of use of video will sort this stuff out. It’s the only way. I can’t think of another. Maybe it’s not the best idea, but it seems to work for other sports.

  51. J*mes

    Would you like the DVD?

  52. Yes, James! What’s your address?

  53. Finsbury, Touche

  54. Agree with LA. Never apologise for long posts. Short ones take far too much time to write

  55. Sure, they’re different sports, but I think it’s interesting that a rugby physio has been completely struck off the HPC register for administering a godamn blood capsule (he will never be able to do his job again) and yet footie players that recklessly break people’s legs only get 3-game bans.

    It’s a crazy world we live in.

  56. On reading this:-

    ” My sense is that more and more technically gifted players are now becoming consciously aware that playing in England might shorten their football careers.”

    My thoughts go to Cesc and i do wonder if this negative aspect of the English game could have more to do with his desire to leave than the much bandied excuse of Arsenals failure to win trophies. He has suffered his own fare share of injuries in the past few seasons and maybe the physicality of the English game has started to persuaded him of the need to leave before its too late.

  57. Finsbury, I’m all for a bit of video in this instance. It’s a nonsense that nothing can be done retrospectively – but the real travesty is how easily referees seem to wilt to the ‘it’s not a game for girls’ rubbish… Darius has said it all really.

    FunkyMunkey, that did seem very severe to me… but a more direct comparison is rugby’s treatment of eye-gouging – which to my mind is their sport’s equivalent of these sorts of no-holds-barred, leg-breaking challenges. Eye-gouging can result in months, years worth of ban. Aided with retrospective video evidence…

  58. For the likes of Karl Hendry, Shawcross, Taylor, Cattermole- their football represents their values- uncouth, uncultured numbskulls! And when you have a caveman of a manager in charge, well….!

  59. …I should add that the damage done to the player on the receiving end, and the time spent out of the game (some have lost sight completely in one eye) has a direct effect on the length of the ban given to the eye-gouger.

    Sounds good to me.

  60. “Pulis reminds me of Neville Bartos from the film Chopper… feeding his attack dogs with amphetemines to get them all worked up.”

    Limpar – love that comparison! I think Pulis should remember, i had the shotgun pointed at his head, then re-considered….

  61. @ Darius Stone
    Great article but I have to agree with Gadget – a better comparison is with GBH/murder offences. These reducer tackles are intended to cause pain and slight injury (bruising etc) and to intimidate. If the injury caused is greater than the tackler envisaged, he is just as culpable because he took the risk.

    I am wryly amused that Shawcross is defending De Jong – Ryan clearly has not understood the crucial difference in their tackles – that he is English and De Jong is a dirty foreigner.

    As to what would get the FA to enforce the rules of the game, I agree with Passenal that the main culprits would never assault any of the Golden boys like that in any case. The only thing that I can think of that might goad them to action is the thought that toleration of thuggery could harm England’s World Cup bid.

  62. I find it hard to wish injury on anyone but if someone could see fit to snap Terry’s legs we might finally see the game questioned. god knows he has attempted to deliberately injure fellow professionals on numerous occasions so it would at least be karmically just and obviously beneficial for the premiership chasing teams (especially us).

    One of the remarkable things is that Chelsea’s squad is actually very thin in numbers – it’s just very robust and the first wave of replacements are superb…beneath that there is a sea of mediocrity.

  63. If you look at both Chelsea and Man United squad- they really can’t compete both in the champions league, premier and FA. They just do not have the squad depth to go the distance- and when injuries hit their star players- and it will come to pass then we are going to be leaving in interesting times. I cant see United coping with Roney, Berbatov and Nani out! If anything I think United will have a battle on their hands to finish 4th.

  64. SRG, I certainly hope FIFA makes the necessary change, but that rule about not being able to act upon an indicdent if a ref has seen it is tosh. It didn’t stop them from chasing Eduardo did it.

  65. Eboue once broke a bone in the Chelsea Captain, Leader, Legend. A tiny one, as he didn’t want to get sent off. Well, he meant to foul, at least. And if my memory isn’t too fuzzy, after those opening lunges by Terry on Fabregas, that made Veronica blush, Chelski lost. Very clever, but I guess, Arsenal ‘don’t like it up ’em’.

    It’s Diaby’s kick to the head that seems to have done the most damage.

  66. Gadget very true about the Eduardo incident.

    Seems, it was very harsh on Eduardo and Arsenal at the time to be publicly courted for a crime that is not even a crime as such among the English players.

  67. Bit of a logic fail here, but: Since attitudes seem to be changing, imagine what we might have achieved if people had realized sooner – I’m thinking, more than five years ago – that sending a team out to physically intimidate another is harmful to the game. What if skillful players were being protected before we went away to Man U in ’04?

    Think of all the niggling injuries we’d have avoided, not to mention bones left unbroken, if we’d been playing every week in contests in which both sides were competing in the right spirit.

  68. Ignore ‘seems’, don’t know how that got there..

  69. Darius,Getting the ball is not a ‘catch all’ to let dangerous play off. But a narrative is constantly peddled in this country that if you get the ball, then the tackle must be OK.

    I think they mean that if a player gets the ball then that is a good indicator that the intention was to get the ball, therefor allowing that sometimes accidents happen.

  70. OneOfUs

    That is what is most frustrating. Had the referees imposed themselves on games properly, and not allowed football in England to go down this route there is no doubt in my mind we would have walked a few titles in the last 5 years. Maybe more in the years prior to this new error/team after the invincibles.

  71. As we all witnessed against Chelsea…

    A combination of strength, aggression, and sly/negative tactics can make up for the lack of not being able to pass the ball. You just wish we could combine the best of both worlds. The signings of Chamakh, Kosc, Verm help us a lot on that front, but football has changed so much in the last 7 or 8 years.

  72. United post 83 mil loose after announcing profit of 100 mil unbelievable! We must be living in a crazy world !

  73. melcfromfinsburypark

    If they had any balls the FIFA, and the various associations, they would do the following:

    1) stamp out the loon tackles by using retrospective video evidence. make the bans for dangerous tackles much much longer.
    2) Help refs by using video evidence. I could not belive turning up aty this seasons champions league game and seeing a goal line official at each end of the pitch. Incredible! Use the video and learn from how rugby, rugby league and cricket have done it. take on board their errors and think through footballs video evidence in detail before implementing it. Spend lots of money doing this. Get it tight
    3) Last but not least, help the refs by banning divers. If video evidence retrospectively finds a player guilty iof diving slap a 5 game ban on him.

    Bingo. They have the cash to do all this but do they have the balls?

    Oh, and the comment about an England player is spot on. If and when Rooney suffers a serious injury the levels of hypocrisy will be astounding.

    The fact that Murphy has said this is interesting given that he is one of the most cultured footballers never to have had an England career. And also interesting that he doesn’t play for one of the big teams as up till now the “whingers” have always been “foreigners” playing for the “big” clubs.

  74. Why don’t they call up this type of players for the England Team..odd?

  75. They call up Kevin Davies though… Says a lot eh?

  76. Kevin Davies.. 33 yr old tank who bruises defenders for a living. He should be playing pub football. He don’t score that many goals, and his only notable involvements in a game are to injure others! Perfect for England!

  77. Heh. He’s like a dirty version of Heskey – the answer to England’s problems? Zamora would be in there instead of that c*nt surely, if it wasn’t for this neanderthal style thuggery that’s come to the fore this season. So infuriating.

  78. Fulham has some classy players don’t they? I’ve just watch Murphy’s comment, and he argued his point with class and reason. Hopefully the taint of Hughes won’t effect them too much

  79. Coming up to his first two months in English football, Kos had had his leg unwittingly hacked by Joe Cole, & an attempt on his head made by Kevin Davis. he’s out-paced Torres and by & large didn’t get out-muscled by Drogba.

    Koscielny, I salute you

  80. The controversial Campbell, a close friend of Sir Alex Ferguson’s, was full of praise for Wenger: “He loves good footballers, but the judgment is not just about their data, but about their personality, their character, their family, their friends. Yesterday he could not have been warmer nor more giving in terms of insight. He definitely has a touch of the genius about him. He is a deep thinker.”

    Wenger spoke of the challenges facing politicians in leadership compared with football managers. The Frenchman explained that, as a manager, you can sell or move on disruptive and disobedient players. Whereas in politics even if a leader sacks a disillusioned member he will still be hanging around and exerting an influence on the party.

    Having been inspired by the Arsenal manager, Campbell gave his own advice to David Cameron and Ed Miliband on the topic of team building: “Sport, politics, it’s all about people. Understanding them. Wanting them to do well. For themselves, and for others. Building them as a team. In politics, so much of the focus is on the leaders. But it is teams that win.”

    -Alastair Campbell on Arsene Wenger.

    This harkens back to the discussion from the other day about Wenger. To me his strength has always been that he’s visionary, but he’s also hard nosed, well able to look at the data and follow it. But he also understands the soft intangible side of things. A very balanced character.

  81. Very interesting, Ole.

    “Wanting people to do well”

    There is something almost philanthropic about the Youth Academy (thinking here of the many successful careers forged away from the Arsenal – but set on their way by AFC coaches), and the social work AFC funds in the local area – and it’s AW who’s pushed it all through. A great, great man. A philosopher, a gentleman, and a scholar!

  82. Oh if anyone is yet to see the new Arsenal Autumn Collection *stikes a little pouty pose* then here it is…

    Lots of nice gear in there.

  83. @ Limpar

    When asked what are the most important attibutes of a football manager, Arsene said, “First, you have to want to help players.” That’s who he is. Others would have said as their first attribute: winning mentality, tactical ability, etc etc, all of which are very important. But this shows why so many players want to play under him.

  84. Great article Darius.

    I am not a fan of American football but at least they were smart enough to realize that they had to protect their star players especially the quarterbacks. Several years ago they made rules that protected them and tjhe other players. They have made it a penalty to block from behind and outlawed horse collar tackles. They also made several other rules changes that protected the quarterbacks. The old time purists all said they were turning a mans game into namby pamby land and the reason people loved american football was the hard hitting and committed players. Today the game is just as good if not better and even more money is coming in because the star players that fans pay to see are not getting injured as often. The players are just are “committed”. People spend their money to watch the skillful attack players, not the thugs. Same thing would happen with English football if the FA and ruling bodies pulled their heads out of their butts.

  85. Excellent, yes, I remember that, FG.

    What a wonderful antidote to the “It’s a results business” masses. Bravo. Special manager.

  86. attack = attacking. My bad.

  87. Some nice posts, enjoyed reading guys.

    Have a nice weekend gooners!

  88. Ole – interesting points by Campbell on Wenger. Very true about him being a visionary.

    @FunGunner and Gadget – good points about the alternative analogy of murder to illustrate intent.

  89. I sometimes think when I hear the pundits talk about a ‘man’s sport’ and sometimes players need to ‘take it into their own hands’ for justice on the pitch that they might as well go the way of hockey and allow fighting with only 5 minutes in a penalty box instead of getting sent off.

    Don’t rely on a referee or another player on your squad to tackle back on an overzealous opponent, just have an enforcer beat the sheet out of him right there in front of everyone. It might cause them a second thought about doing it again.

    It’s a man’s sport afterall.

    (/sarcasm off)

  90. It’a a shame that Campbell is an absolute bastard though.

  91. Devil's Advocate

    All the talk about FA not taking any notice of the tackles until an English hope’s leg is broken is well and good, I just really really really hope it won’t be our Jack, coz he’s the great big English hope right now.

  92. ManIOU’s financials are out. What a read!
    Reminds me of the old saying:
    Revenue is vanity,
    Profit is sanity,
    Cash is reality.

    Andersred at has already done a quick analysis. http://andersred.blogspot.com/

  93. Gross is vanity
    Net is sanity

  94. Meaning that Arsenal is leading the the sanity/reality stakes while ManIOU is way on top in vanity. But we all knew that, dont we?

  95. One of the most interesting points in the article about Danny Murphy outing Stoke, Wolves, and Blackburn is that all three outed clubs chose not to respond to Murphy’s comments. I find it amusing at how different the response would of been had it been Wenger or an Arsenal player. They would gone on the attack and tried to ridicule Arsene to deflect blame and attention. But I think their PR people have had a word with them that there is a slight shift in public sentiment on this issue, and that a big press debate is not the best for them. Another broken leg or two in the near future the press and public will no longer be able to ignore it, and I think there will be some changes coming.

  96. Campbell is a Faustian caricature of a politician. Can you call him a politician? Perhaps more of an advertising man.

    Didn’t he write a romance novel 6 months ago, or was that a nightmare I had?

  97. Their analyst is obviously a manu fan shotta!

    It almost chokes him to admit that we are a model club.

  98. Yes Cbob, he is. Pity some of our own fans cannot recognize what our sworn rivals from oop north have now concluded; better to have a well run club than the vanity of trophies at any cost.

  99. A few Friday thoughts:
    1) what’s happened to this guy Noone that all the Doomers said we signed in the Summer?*
    2) are Liverpool FC to change their name to “The Stealers”?
    3) is there an acceptable acronym for Doomers? My own favourite is iPods (internal Prophets of Doom).

    *annoys me as much as those inbreds that regularly confuse lose and loose!

  100. great article, the drunk driving analogy is perfect

  101. Bill

    CONGRATS MY FRIEND!!! 2 games up on the Rays?? You must be in dream land!!!! Hope you are enjoying it. looks like the pleasantries will have to end soon though, as a Yanks/Rangers ALCS is almost a guarantee!!

  102. Darius,

    loved the article. great read. your analogy is extremely spot on.

    I really hope something is done abotu this problem. The fact that these tackles are not even whistled as fouls (i.e. De Jong), for me, is the most telling thing. How could you possibly, under the letter of the law, snap one of the major bones in the human body without breaking the rules?!?!?!? It really is mindnumbing.

    I’ve found myself fantasizing about being in charge of the FA right now. Imagine you were top man over there, what would you do first?

    Someone said it earlier, the English wonder why the havent won FUCK ALL since 1966? here’s your fucking answer

  103. If i was a capped England international, seeing Kevin Davies on the pitch would cause me to go into a bout of deep depression, for something that had once been such a source of pride, such an honor, is now nothing more than a capitulation to the horrid state of football in England.

  104. NJGooner:

    Dream land it is. I have had season tickets for nearly the last decade and this is mind numbing stuff. I was worried that we would be nervous since most of the team have never really faced this type of pressure before. I have been holding my breath since Tues and so far its working. Your right pleasantries will stop abruptly when/if the next round gets started.

    I do not know if I told you but love your new avatar.

    btw: Please send a memo to Brian Cashman and tell him to keep his hands off Cliff Lee and Josh Hamilton. That would be much appreciated. I already hurt when I see Tex in the Yankee pinstripes.

  105. Baseball?
    You yanks need to man up and, er, play a man’s game. Yup, you’ve guessed it, not Fat Sam’s Polo, but Cricket.
    A sport so cool, that all four of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy novels, compose a not so secret expression of Adams’ hatred of the game.
    Well, there is the secret Wicket Gate key that leads into the Slo-Time Envelope. And there are the demented and evil robots of Krikkit. The end of the world occurs at Lord’s itself.

    He must have been a football fan.

  106. Fat Sam is full of Grit…I mean sh!t, Sh!t flavored bubble gum

  107. Finsbury:
    I wish I understood cricket. Sounds like a fun game. Unfortunately no chance to follow here in the USA. May be they will start the Fox Cricket channel someday. I always thought the name cricket sounded like a dainty game.

  108. Cricket used to be on FSC now I think it’s on FCS+. I dislike Cricket as much I dislike Baseball.

  109. Bill,
    I’m not sure if dainty is a word I’d use to describe Joel Garner or Freddie Flintoff. Garner was terrifying. And then there was his hunting partner, known as Michael ‘Whispering Death’ Holding. And many others.
    Still, it can be a very chilled out sport.

    Looks like a decent game between Germany & Turkey. No goals yet.

  110. G4E:

    Your loss I guess. To each their own. I grew up playing baseball just about everyday when there wasn’t snow on the ground. I wish I had been able to play football but everyone called it soccer and thought it was boring. Hopefully the younger generation of Yanks that grew up playing footie will have a much great appreciation of the level of skill and the excitement of the game.

  111. Finsbury:

    Freddie Flintoff sounds like a cartoon character. I am already humming “The Flintstones” theme song in my head.

    I would actually like to know more about the game, but am obsessed with the baseball playoffs right now. May be I will try to watch Cricket next time its on FSC+

  112. I hope people like you Billl & G4E, don’t start with Twenty20.. :-/

  113. The Basic ‘Rules’ of Cricket

    You have 2 sides,

    one out in the field and one in.

    Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out,

    and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in,

    until he’s out.

    When they are all out,

    the side that’s out comes in,

    and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in out.

    Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

    When both sides have been in and out,

    including the not outs, that’s the end of the game.

  114. Remi:

    Good one. Actually made sense when you read it slowly enough. Sounds like the old comedy routine “Who’s on first”

    MJ:
    No idea what that means.

  115. Bill twenty/20 is a shortened version of cricket, the game lasts no more than 3 hours!
    For the real enthusiast ‘Test Match Cricket’ is the purist form of the game, which can last upto 5 days!

  116. Remi:
    5 days. It would truly take a purist to appreciate that.

  117. It doesn’t happen that often these days but India beat Australia in a five day match earlier this week, which ended up as an exciting finish!
    Its not as boring as it might seem……….
    …..or perhaps I need to get out more! 🙂

  118. Bobby Gould was a talentless **** who would not get in to the Arsenal Ladies team. He’s the reason that we lost to Swindon.

  119. CBob
    Please don’t let my American neighbours anywhere near Cricket, lets keep one sport free from their clutches, I fear for the future of football as it is. And it’s bad enough that Murdoch has cricket players in non-white colours and also that new fangled nonsense!

  120. Wes Hall, now that was scary cricket!

  121. Baseball is so boring you can actually die of severe boredom watching it. Although I only enjoyed when Arizona won the “World” series or something like that.

  122. Someone on SS1 just said “it’s ridiculous to say that players are going in too fast. We don’t ask our F1 drivers to go into corners slower do we?”. How do these people get on the television? Fucking hell.

  123. @Remi – In short, it’s not cricket

  124. Morning all, sorry no posts this weekend due to family reasons. See you all Monday. YW.

  125. Well I hope everything is alright with you and yours Yogi.

    I suppose I’ll have to do some work today instead of hanging around here.

    I’m with you MDGunner and you mj.

    I don’t want Americans anywhere near the beautiful game. God knows what they would do with it. Like you I have never accepted coloured kit and I can’t stand 20 20. Any cricket that leads to the bowling being opened with a mundane slow left arm bowler and calls itself ‘exciting’ is ridiculous.

    Contrast that with almost any Test match. We have had some real crackers lately.

  126. MDGunner, Consols et al,

    Talking of America… quite an entertaining piece on Thierry and the MLS here… with some angry comments!

    http://www.upforgrabsnow.co.uk/2010/09/letter-from-america-thierry-henry-lost-to-a-worrying-wilderness/.

    From the comments: “For any Americans reading and wondering what the fuss is.

    The equivalent would be something like a 39 year old Magic Johnson joining the St Albans Daves Skip Hire club in the Thursday night Hoop ball League, (we don’t call it Basketball here), while an interviewer called him Midget Jansen, asked him why he was so tall and if he liked Cornish pasties.”

  127. Slacker.

  128. Very sad really Limpar.

  129. I know. Sorry, I meant to put a ‘sad’ warning on that.

  130. In happier news, Wilshere set up the winner at Carrow Road last night for the under-bloody-21s… Rosicky gave the Scots a long overdue hiding, and Arshavin beat Robbie Keane. Good old Arsenal.

  131. Well just when you thought it was hard enough to get excited about supporting England crapello goes and picks that big oaf Davies. well im licking my lips now with excitment at the prospect of watching this next fukin England game….i think this could have put the nail in the coffin for me now when it comes to England. really can these English players get any fukin lower, cant stand any of the cu*ts and already their turning little Jack into one of them and he has only spent a few days with them.

  132. Bob?? your not in the sun tanning business are you??

  133. No Duke.

    Why?

    By the way, Davies being picked about sums up my dislike for this England side.

    Absolutely stuffed with shits. Who could love them? Not even their mothers.

  134. Just the missus came in the other day from one of them tanning salons and she had this card with consols written on it and the company is from bristol which i suppose is sort of your neck of the woods.

  135. Bloody Bristol!

    South Midlands.

    Bloody tanning salons!

    Not likely.

  136. Well at least all our best players are already out injured, so they can’t go getting injured again in midweek.

  137. Isn’t Bristol in north somerset? well technicaly it isnt in a county but it would have been in somerset or avon. bloody sound the same as your average west county farmer larky.

  138. A hundred miles away. Might as well be on the moon.

  139. @Consolbob – October 9, 2010 at 9:29 am –
    You are right, its just entertainment, I fail to see any cricket in it! Also, IMO test cricket will always have a loyal audience like you(& me), but its the ODI form which is suffering the most. Sadly, I see it being discontinued, 10 years from now..

  140. mj_gunner, you could have guessed that his previous comments were borne out of disappointment and bitterness that instead of eating caviar, he’s stuck with sausages!

  141. Just watched that Bobby Pires inerview. He said Arsenal is his prefered club . Best player he played with was Bergkamp. The coach who helped his carrer was Wenger. Coach he doesn’t like was Domenech and the the player who annoyed him the most in his career was Gary neville. Best atmosphere were the games against Spurs.

  142. Apparently the French media are saying Sagna’s out for 3 weeks. Does this mean a lengthy run in the side for President Eboue? We’d best start writing some royalty cheques for the White Stripes.

  143. Rafa Van der Vaart is playing without a meniscus in one of his knees. I think he’s been lucky that Real Madrid only played him a handful of times while he was there otherwise he would’ve done an Overmars and retired early.

  144. Gainsbourgh, apparently Van der Vaart is still 82% effective with one knee.

    Cut his hair however, and he drops to 47%.

  145. F*ck. I forgot about our best right-back. So now our best keeper, centreback, midfielder, striker, fastest player and now our best full-back are all out injured.

    Good news is that while they’re out injured, they can’t get injured again. Well, not badly anyway… you’d hope.

    The actual good news is that they’re all due back before long. We’ll just have to hold out Alamo style until they arrive. Well, hopefully not exactly like the Alamo. What’s a film like that where reinforcements arrive in time?

  146. Limpar,

    Although not really waiting for the calvery, movies like Serenity & the Matrix sequels have scenes were the heroes do some amazing ass kicking despite overwhelming numbers or arrive in the nick of time to save the day.

    So does Star Wars: A New Hope, when the MFalcon shows up to shoot Vader in the arse could be described as the saving calvery shot.

  147. Calvery, Gadget? Is that a buffet roast dinner or a birthing pool for cows?

    I thought Star Wars… but I’m not sure that really counts.

  148. Video replays would also bring up some dirty tactics (against keepers) that go on inside the box, that often go unnoticed when the ball is outside it…

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