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Stopping at the Red Lights

Reading the media this morning, typified by the Collymore article below, and over the weekend it is hard not to return to the awful consequence of the Stoke game even though so much has been said already. I tend to look for the positives in most situations but I find it very difficult to see that football has even begun to understand what the tackle on Ramsey should be telling the game. It is misleading to say that anyone is seriously claiming that the Shawcross tackle was malicious or made with the intent to break Ramsey's leg but it was most definitely made 'in a manner considered to be careless, reckless or using excessive force' to use the laws of the game. What was Shawcross trying to do? Certainly not win possession of the ball as many claim. He tried to launch the ball and anything in its orbit into the stands. There is no need to make a tackle of that nature at anytime but certainly not against a player 5 yards inside his own half.

Those using the Gallas tackle that brought so much furore in a game against Bolton a short time back as though it justifies Shawcross`s are looking at the issue from the wrong end of the telescope. But it is still useful to illustrate the difference between controlled and uncontrolled tackling. Gallas was on his feet when tackling in a controlled manner as required by the laws of the game but mistimed it as the risk of any tackle can carry. The Bolton player however was off his feet lunging at the ball in an uncontrolled manner which he stood no more chance of winning than Gallas. The fact that the Bolton player wasn't seriously injured despite his own 'careless, reckless use of excessive force' was precisely because Gallas didn't use excessive force. Had the Bolton player exercised the same care and degree of control as Gallas he might have contested the ball with even less risk of injury.

It isn't possible to prove intent but you don't have to in order to eradicate playing "in a manner considered to be careless, reckless or using excessive force" which is where the real danger lies. That is what most of this debate is missing. No-one is out to demonise any player but Shawcross who was previously criticised for a tackle that broke Francis Jeffers ankle 30 months ago and for other incidences since was defended then as now by Stoke officials who seemingly have failed in their duty to educate their young players.

"Jeffers was playing well at the time and it was probably a new experience for Ryan to get frustrated, maybe that`s why he chased down the ball and made the tackle." Explained Stoke`s assistant manager at the time as though frustration is justification.

Nicklas Bendtner, one of Ramsey`s close friends describes the incident on Saturday "I was standing right next to Aaron, when it happened, and immediately there was no doubt at all, that he broke his leg. It was a terrible, totally mad tackle from Ryan Shawcross, and he is really smashing hard into Aaron.

"I don`t believe that anybody would try to intentionally to make an injury on another player, a fellow professional, but the way he is going into the tackle is out of control, and that doesn`t belong anywhere."

Therein lies the real issue behind this obfuscation of maliciousness, intent or partisan jibes at Arsenal for daring to highlight that footballs ostrich like mentality towards genuine problems does little to help anyone. Right now Shawcross can be made to feel he has just been unlucky and has done nothing wrong as that is what he is being told. There is little to encourage the belief that English referees will use the laws of the game to clamp down on carelessness, recklessness or the use of excessive force as the laws of the game already allow. So there is little reason to believe Shawcross and the managers that encourage players like him will understand that he has a responsibility that he and they have too often ignored in the past. Along with the pain suffered by Aaron Ramsey that is the great regret here.

There are red lights in football that players must be made to see. It`s too late to wait for the red cards. The damage has already been done by the time they see them. They need to be told they are there but right now it seems too few people can even begin to admit they exist at all.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday March 1 2010

Time: 11:33AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Beat me to it, I was going to pen something along the same lines and using that Davies challenge as an illustration. I got to thinking that Gallas is a very experienced player and actually managed to protect himself from Davies lunge- whether he did so legally is another matter, I happen to think it was a foul by Gallas in doing so. Anyway, the point is, Gallas is a little more experienced and saw the tackle coming, Ramsey is still a young lad and didn't have Gallas' experience and wiliness to protect himself. All in all it's very sad and even sadder that the emdia don't even seem to be ignoring the issue, but are again trying to paint Wenger as some kind of a villain. I have honestly read someone say it's Wenger's fault for buying such brittle, slight players. Unchuffing real.
Little Dutch
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01/03/2010 11:44:00

I'd have preferred to have read your piece LD! I find it absolutely incomprehensible that so many fail to see the fault in the game that this incident together with the Gallas tackle illustrates. It was a foul by Gallas but carried little risk were it not for the force generated by the Bolton player. The force used by Shawcross was grossly disproportionate to what he needed to achieve and directly responsible for Ramsey's injury. The laws specifically forbid it. Why on earth is that so hard to understand?
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01/03/2010 11:56:00

I honestly can't understand why it's so hard for people in and around the sport to see. Have been having this same argument over and over with friends and family these past two days. Sadly, we could lose another TWO players in as many seasons to bone-breacking wild lunges and we'll still be told by the media that we're imagining it. Was very impressed by Patrick Barclay's analysis yesterday. He and Martin Samuels are too few and far between however. God how I'd really LOVE it if we could win this league. Wenger should dedicate the triumph sarcastically to Pulis, Allardyce and pals. And well done Benitez on his hilarious put-down of Fat-Sam's "style" and his blunt refusal to be drawn into Sky Sports attempts to ratchet up the controversy around Aaron's injury.
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01/03/2010 12:08:00

The problem we face as Arsenal fans is we are so easy to attack. Yes, we do whinge about getting treated dirty more then other fans, but other fans don't have to watch there team, week in and week out getting shin kicked the way we have to watch it with literally ZERO protection from the Referee. It's absolute bull***** ******** *********, and as Arsenal fans we know it. BUT for the first time i have am actually hearing faint echo's of other voices saying "well something needs to be done" ...i read an article by a ManU supported saying there are too many unacceptable challenges happening in the premier league. Everyone knows how important Cesc is to us, and know how good he is, but that does not justify trying to hurt him, ever. Instead, the Ref's need to take control of the game and say 'no can't do that' ...that's the only way these *****heads will stop, they do it because they know they can get away with it. If i was a referee and i saw 1 player getting booted around the park. I'd send a warning saying 'next time he's fouled it's a yellow, happens again it's a red, regardless of the player' . It's not fair to us at all, and yes, i am whinging, but with every ******** right to have a whinge. I have a lot of appreciation from the well-wishers to Aaron from other supporters, but something needs to be ******** done. It's beyond a coincidence. To finish it off, Stan Collymore is a huge *****head.
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01/03/2010 12:32:00

Brilliant piece Amos, and I can't emphasise enough your point that by mollycoddling Shawcross like this is just hiding from the problem. If someone sat him down and said "look, that was a ***** challenge, we know you didn't mean it, but you can't go throwing yourself into the tackle like that, you could end someones career. Now chin up, get put there and play football, but use your ******** head", it would be much more useful thank saying "its ok, it's an accident, keep doing what you're doing, you're a lovely lad" that doesnt help anyone. Infact if Pulis had had the balls to say that to him after he "did" Jeffers, Ramsey might be chatting with Shawcross at London Colney today (unless Wales have a game?). But we all know Pulis is a coward, hiding behind his armyof apologists who use "English grit" as some kind of weak arsed excuse. Oh, LD, feel free to write your article buddy, the more blogs and site get on the case about this the better.
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01/03/2010 13:42:00

I am coming to the opinion that Arsenal/Ramsey should sue Shawcross and Stoke for the damage caused. There would be no inhibitions in doing so were damaged inflicted as a consequence of careless or reckless driving to use an often used analogy referring to this incident. Not for any financial compensation which on the scale of things wouldn't be significant but it would bring home the seriousness of the negligence displayed by Shawcross and his manager and coaches. It won't happen of course but it would take something on that scale to change the attitudes many in the game seem wedded to.
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01/03/2010 14:33:00

There are many teams and many players in this league I personally CANNOT stand, but if these leg-breaks happened to any of them I wouldn't flippin' SMIRK about it and condemn the victim's manager for being outraged. I'd demand the culprit get an appropriate ban and the exact same talking to as suggested above, to put a stop to it. I have a feeling that it would take this kind of injury to a Rooney or a Gerrard or a Lampard before the influential voices in English football sit up to attention. And for the record, I wouldn't wish it on any of them...
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01/03/2010 14:54:00

Smith, Taylor and Shawcross collectively recieved a 6 game ban for their craeer threatening tackles, Viera got 8 (?) matches for spitting at f*****d up is the FA and it's cowardly, out dated disciplinary procedures?
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01/03/2010 15:31:00

Unfortunately, I think Julie's right. Nothing is going to happen unless this happens to an English player, and thats only a matter of time. Well written piece Amos. Even I've read comments against Wenger saying he's whinging, and he needs to grow up, and assorted nonsense, without understanding what this is all about. You constantly hear the apologist bull ***** like 'this is football', and 'accidents happen'.
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01/03/2010 15:42:00

You need to take your Arsenal Hats off
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01/03/2010 16:19:00

You need to put a football hat on.
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01/03/2010 16:22:00

Possibly also grow a brain... never mind the football hat.
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01/03/2010 16:40:00
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01/03/2010 16:48:00

i think a way to change this culture of reckless over-commitment might be to make this Fair Play table to count for something .... Maybe not points but maybe additional positive goal difference based on your ranking or something that could influence the league table. the players currently show no restraint because their only concerns are "must not accumulate more than one yellow card per game" and "must not accumulate more than 5 yellows between opening day and end of february". and that leaves a lot of room for damage as we witnessed on saturday
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01/03/2010 16:55:00

I think a trip to spec savers is required if one cannot see that this is nothing more than a terrible accident. Not 2 footed, not diving in, not studs showing. Worse challenges (and more cowardly) are committed on a weekly basis, and this is just bad luck. I think due to previous incident's, judgement on this one is being clouded. No need to insult
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01/03/2010 17:01:00

@RealDanger, Ryan Showcross record shows it all. My fear is for the egyptian coming for the friendly match. Have you seen the videos of Ryan on Jeffers, Ryan on Adebayor and now Ryan on Aaron?
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01/03/2010 17:06:00

Three times in four seasons with the preamble to every Arsenal fixture being "Get stuck into 'em?" Do you think we came up the road in a bubble or something?"
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01/03/2010 17:07:00

RealDanger - I think you are the only one who doesn't have a clue what's going on fella.
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01/03/2010 17:15:00

Not two footed? Correct. Not studs showing? Correct. Not diving in? Incorrect. This kid flew in at Rambo .... off the floor .... which gave Shawcross no control whatsoever. Someone made the point of looking back at Gallas's mistimed challenge on a Bolton player earlier in the season (which he was absolutely and complately chastised for) when he got the timing of the tackle wrong. But because Gallas is experienced enough, and professional enough not to leave the ground whilst making the tackle, the damage was minimal, infact despite people claiming Gallas had broken his leg, the guy played the very next game. Had Gallas commited with the same amount of wrecklessness as Shawcross, the injury would have been the same as Ramsey's.
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01/03/2010 17:47:00

I agree with R7, you should write your article anyway LD. And Amos, another great piece.
Sir Henry
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01/03/2010 18:13:00

I think it's time a sensible person took over at the FA, UEFA and FIFA. They are shirking all the big issues of the game: the violent tackling, the video evidence who's there for all to see.. Instead they focus on trivial stuff like players lifting their shirts in celebration, the dubious goal panel, foreigners diving (when we have homegrown diving champions here... Stevie G take a bow)... The sad thing is that it will take a major english player (eg Rooney, gerrard) getting his career ruined on a wild tackle before they act. Similarly FIFA will wait for a Ronaldo, Kaka or Cesc to get injured before taking action. Also if what happened to ramsey had happened to say Eboue, the media would be having a laugh over it saying 'they really don't like it up 'em.. Good on you Shawcross, true english grit'. Thats the sad thing.
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01/03/2010 18:38:00

I think there is a realdanger that you've missed the point completely. A terrible accident certainly but entirely avoidable if the player had obeyed the laws of the game which requires him to play in a manner that couldn't be considered careless or reckless or use excessive force. I wondered who would be the first contributor to parade the complete false notion here that nothing could be done to prevent the accident and we should just accept bad challenges as part of the game. Sadly some folk will never get it.
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01/03/2010 19:12:00

spurs fan hear sending some love to my 2 best team in the prem. hope the tragic injury of young Ramsey can give the rest of ur squad the added incentive to play out your skins every week and win u the title(except when u visit the lane of course :) ) ur right up there with a shout and i really want ya to do it. hope the young lad recovers well and soon
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01/03/2010 19:51:00

I've been too angry to even post here since the incident, I can't add much to what's already been said. Amos' blog today is excellent. I guess all I can add is that this is the second time Shawcross has broken another player's leg, he also seriously injured Ade (and put him out for months) and hurt Cronaldo as well with an equally dangerous tackle. I don't understand why people simply can't grasp the concept of WILD, UNCONTROLLED, RECKLESS tackles that are made with complete indifference to consequences; as in wild, uncontrolled, reckless driving committed by people wholly indifferent to who they hurt or even kill. And the very salient point that such tackles are AGAINST THE LAWS OF THE GAME. And one more thing: why is it that it's England that seems to specialize in these incidents?
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01/03/2010 19:55:00

black-messi, your sentiments are much appreciated.
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01/03/2010 19:56:00

Could someone please recommend the few decent pieces of punditry in the UK press over this incident? I already know about Martin Samuel's piece, thanks.
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01/03/2010 20:43:00,17033,8742_5991490,00.html Skip to the Arsenal parts of this one, some sane points.
Little Dutch
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01/03/2010 21:01:00

many thanks, LD.
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01/03/2010 21:18:00

Jaelle, unless the are Arsenal writers they're few and far between. Although search for the fan neutral "who ate all the pies" there's a great piece on the incident - from memory the article is named "This ones for you, Aaron"
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02/03/2010 08:31:00

All I was trying to point out is that challenges a lot worse, go less severely punished, with less severe consequences. I have been on the wrong end of a tackle where only one leg was planted and studs showing, the guy stamped down just below the knee. I was lucky enough to walk away, he was lucky to only get a yellow. Maybe shawcross does have form on this sort of thing, but judging this incident alone, I have seen a lot worse. I don't think the gallas challenge is a good example to use either. That was cowardly. Any tackle that shoes studs over the ball like that can be deemed as nothing else, regardless of "force"
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02/03/2010 09:41:00

What a great post black-messi. Thanks for that. Whatever. Rivalries there are, the "footballing" sides should stick together IMO! Looking for intelligent articles these past few days is, I agree, like looking for a needle in a haystack. Martin Samuels was good, but Patrick Barclay's analysis on Sunday was my personal favourite. It is shocking that Arsene could be pilloried for merely calling the "tackle unacceptable" when NOT ONCE, did I hear him impugn Shawcross's character or intent. Read the text people!
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02/03/2010 09:42:00

Gallas's foot didn't go over the ball. Take a look again. The Bolton player was lunging at the ball. If he'd stayed on his feet he would have exercised more control and contact might not even have occured at all. It was Davies's uncontrolled lunge that generated any force in the contact. Are there worse challenges than ones that break a limb? Can't be too many unless they prove fatal. Once again - under the laws of the game - any player has to play 'in a manner that cannot be considered careless, reckless or uses excessive force' - all 3 can be applied to Shawcross's tackle which wasn't even necessary on a player 5 yards inside his own half.
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02/03/2010 09:47:00

RealDanger, Gallas's was standing up and his foot was low to the ground. That is is why Davies was playing again the following week. How can you even compare that to a player going to ground and flying in with both feet in the air? If Shawcross knew how to tackle sensibly instead of acting on manager's orders to "stick the boot in," then an innocent boy would not be in hospital today. It is a disservice to Shawcross and the sport, to pat him on the head and tell him what an angel he is. All I ask, is that he be given a meaningful ban to teach him a lesson and a kick up the BEHIND to tell him not to do it again. This is his SECOND leg-break FGS. Time to stop it. But Pulis should be punished heavily. None of this will happen ofcourse because the English game is in denial about the tolerance of wild tackling and pre-match threats. So, unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before ANOTHER player has his leg cut in two and pays the price. It'll be one of ours because they're singled out for "special treatment." It is SCANDALOUS.
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02/03/2010 09:54:00

Julie. Whilst I disagree that he was "flying in both feet in the air". I accept that it is a fact that a lot of the "non-footballing" sides to attempt to kick Arsenal out the game. If you hadn't guessed, I am a Spurs fan. I saw Everton do it to us on Sunday
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02/03/2010 10:04:00

Yes Real Danger. But my argument is not just about protecting Arsenal players- it's ALL players. You've have your share of pacy, skilful players too. If'd what I saw had happened to one of yours, i'd be on here saying the same thing. I mean, come on. Three times in four seasons to the SAME team?? You have to admit, something's wrong.
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02/03/2010 10:40:00

And when wil some of these oiks at the FA and the media answer the question that Wenger, Ramsay, our team, our fans DESERVE to have answered? Why has this happened to Arsenal THREE TIMES since 2006?
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02/03/2010 11:03:00

you wont get a peep from the FA!
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02/03/2010 12:10:00

Ah there you are again- my mate! Thought I should just get out of Vital Pool there! Ok, here's my point reduced to one question for you RealDanger. When Shawcross returns in 3 matches, as his manager, would you be happy to instruct him to make the EXACT SAME TACKLE again because was happened the last time was just "luck?"
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02/03/2010 13:25:00

Its a bit odd over there! A Yid and a Goon and nobody else! To answer your question, no I wouldn't, but I wouldn't go the other way either, and tell him to soften up. I do genuinely believe however, 999/1000 times, that wouldn't happen
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02/03/2010 13:38:00

There WAS a bit of an echo over there, wasn't there RD?
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02/03/2010 13:41:00

If the all circumstances were repeated exactly the outcome couldn't be anything other than exactly the same. Kick someones shin powerfully with Shawcross's full body weight behind it and the leg will break more often than not. The only way it would be different is if Ramsey didn't attempt to play the ball or Shawcross played with more control and/or used less force.
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02/03/2010 13:53:00


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