A Victim Of Archaic Tactics? Or Just Unlucky?
As Aaron Ramsey crumpled under the challenge from Ryan Shawcross today, he became the 3rd victim in four years in an Arsenal shirt to be on the receiving end of an horrendous leg-breaking challenge that will see his career put on hold for a very long time.
Previous players to suffer these career threatening injuries were Abou Diaby, who's leg was broken whilst playing away at Sunderland by Dan Smith and Eduardo, his limb snapped by a tackle from Martin Taylor in a 2-2 at St Andrews vs Birmingham.
It's all to easy to over-react when incidents like this occur, calls for players to be kicked out of football for thuggery, claims that some players do these things intentionally are often heard. But the reality is (that with the exception of Roy Keane) very few players set out to intentionally injure a fellow professional, indeed, Shawcross' tears as he left the pitch were genuine and I saw that there was no intention.
Of course over the next few days we'll be hearing statements from people like Tony Pullis and Shawcross's teammates about how he's a fair player, and he would never do anything like that on purpose, and they'll probably be right, but that still doesn't detract from the fact that a 19-year-old boy lays in a hospital bed this evening with his legs in pieces hoping that his career won't follow suit.
So, is there blame to be apportioned? Or are Arsenal just very unlucky to have suffered a succession of violent looking injuries in quick succession?
I feel there is blame, but not a single person, more towards a collection of philosophies that believe it's ok to supplement a lack of talent with over-zealous physicality.
Over the past 10 or so years, Arsene Wenger has created a style of play that teams of lesser technical ability have struggled to come to terms with, and football has become such big business that people will do everything in their power to get the desired results to ensure they remain in their highly paid jobs.
It goes back to matches witnessed at places like the Reebok stadium where we sit an watch Arsenal players kicked into submission, and with the tactics getting the desired results, many teams followed suit.
Is it any coincidence that all 3 horrific injuries occurred in away games against teams that are, with the greatest respect, technically inferior to Arsenal?
The media also jumped on the bandwagon, all to often using phrases like 'Arsenal don't like it up 'em' or 'to beat Arsenal you have to get in their faces' (Seriously, if I hear David Platt say that one more time I'll get in his spoon shaped face) as if to promote this tactic to ensure the viewers would be back to view Arsenal getting beaten by the underdogs.
The macho and ego driven world of football is all to willing to turn a blind eye to managers employing the 'go out there and kick them' tactics, scared that the game is turning into something akin to basketball.
'Back in the day' hard tackles and tough football were the order of play, but this was a footballing philosophy taught religiously, and the players were good at what they did. These days the ego will not allow for a game to be lost by technically superior team, instead of accepting defeat and trying harder to overcome the difference in talent, it's easier to kick and punch your way to victory.
A loaded gun in the hands of a trained professional is a weapon that can be used for its purpose, in the hands of an incompetent it's a lethal device that can ruin lives with innocent victims bearing the brunt of its destructive force, even if the shot wasn't intended.
Maybe it's time to give up the gun?