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It's time to start talking about tackling Mick

It's time to start talking about tackling Mick

In acknowledging that Cesc had apologised for a poor tackle on Stephen Ward, for which he received a yellow card, Mick McCarthy said that he hasn't any problem with tackling and wishes everyone would stop talking about it. He's wrong because though no-one got injured in the game there were tackles that were careless or reckless which might have caused injury. Cesc's was one which in another game he might have received a red card for. Not because it was particularly dangerous as both players were moving in the same direction so any potential impact was limited. But it was careless and unnecessary in that area of the pitch. He couldn't have anticipated that he would have had much chance of winning the ball launching his tackle from where he did and shouldn`t have been encouraged to believe he could do so. But the tolerance level of the game is set by the match referee who had allowed a worse tackle to go unpunished where Arshavin and Henry were moving towards each other and the potential for serious damage much more likely. The tackle from Henry was over the ball but fortunately Arshavin reacted in time and pulled his leg back sharply to minimise the impact.

They'll be a temptation among some to see the mention of the Henry tackle in the same paragraph as the Fabregas tackle as an attempt to justify the latter. It doesn't at all but the significance is that they appear in the same game. It's also worth remembering that in this whole debate about tackling standards Wenger made it clear that sometimes his players tackle badly too. A point he made explicitly when responding to a reporter`s question on tackling earlier in the season saying at the time

"Don't take me wrong we make as well sometimes bad fouls and I have the same responsibility than you. What I mean, me alone, I've not enough power. It is the referees, the people who watch the games, the people who write about it have the same responsibility as I have."

Part of the problem is that as violence begets violence so bad tackles encourage other bad tackles. If the referees don't take a firm stand and only respond when serious injury has been the consequence then the problem will continue. If they allow the law to be disregarded then a form of lawlessness among players should be expected. In an excellent piece in the Independent last month James Lawton referred to just such a culture in the 60s and 70s when even a player who`s abilities where as skill based as George Best`s could break someone`s leg as a result of a bad tackle. Lawton wrote at the time "... back in the '60s and '70s the failure of the authorities to take proper action against the worst of the violence, and the sheer inefficiency of the leading referees, created a culture of self-help among the most creative of players." I'm not saying that Cesc's tackle was an act of retribution for other tackles in the same game but it's not hard to see how such a mindset can come about. It's for the referee's and others in the game to discourage the players from making tackles they can`t exercise enough control over.

I don't wish to paint Wolves or McCarthy as specific examples of teams that play rough. There are better examples. They play a pressing but intelligent game that is still grounded in a genuine endeavour to play football but now is not the time to stop talking about tackling. Wenger spoke to Cesc immediately after the game specifically about the tackle as his post match comments made apparent. Cesc also apologised to the player. So they are talking about it. Neither excuses the fact that Cesc was probably lucky to escape a red card given the desire to eliminate careless tackles as much as possible but it does show a level of responsibility for their actions. It's not clear whether McCarthy spoke to Henry and as it went unpunished neither did the media highlight his tackle. Rather than stop perhaps Mick needs to start talking about tackling and not just hope the issue will blow over. His first conversation needs to be with Karl Henry. Wenger has already spoken to Cesc.

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Date:Friday November 12 2010
Time: 9:45AM


Frankly amazed the Henry tackle has been brushed under the carpet. It shows some appalling double standards in the game. MOTD analysed Cesc's tackle in minute detail but never mentionned what was a far worse challenge. For Lee Dixon to sit there and say nothing was very disappointing.
Wyn Mills
12/11/2010 13:28:00
Having only seen the game on Match of the Day I wasn't even aware this tackle existed until today. Disgraceful and shameful piece of biased coverage.
12/11/2010 13:34:00
Wyn, on twitter Lee Dixon apologized for not having enuf time to talk about the Henry tackle and said he personally apologized to AW for not getting to it. He did want to get to it. He said that the discussion continued after the cameras stopped and he did mention the Henry tackle in that ensuing conversation. It wasn't just Henry's tackle that was appalling. It was Mijias' (sp?) delilberate stamp on Song too. Neither was punished, both were ignored. Of course McCarthy was magnanimous--he knew his own players had gotten away with thuggery. AW didn't even bring up Henry and Mijias--yet he's still accused of whingeing. You could see throughout the game that Cesc was furious, getting angrier and angrier because the referee was allowing Wolves to kick and stamp him and his teammates at will - zero fouls called against Wolves, no free kicks given to Arsenal. Whereas every time a Wolves player went to ground a foul was called and fk given. It was a fkg joke. What's more, Wolves fans disgraced themselves by shouting "Dirty Spanish ********" to Cesc! All of this has been totally ignored by the media. You can be certain if gooners had shouted something similar it would be all over the news. The game was totally familiar to all gooners: opposition comes out to stop and kick and stamp and knock us down & allowed to do so at will, zero protection from the ref. Arsenal start to fight back and out come the cards. It's true Cesc needs to control his anger & sense of injustice at this but I do understand his fury. I have to wonder if a reason he may want to leave England is that he's sick and tired of this double standard from PL refs and the media. The debate in the media is now all about AW's so-called hypocrisy, that's it. There's no serious focus on the issue itself--just Arsenal & Wenger. Every sin we commit on the pitch will be hysterically highlighted while our opponents will be allowed to do just as they please, as usual. Cesc went into the Wolves dressing room to apologize. deJong, Henry, etc. never do that.
12/11/2010 14:44:00
I’m not surprised really; it’s the usual media frenzy about all things Arsenal. I only saw the highlights on MOTD and I thought that the coverage of Cesc’s tackle was a little bit disproportionate. Yes it was a poor challenge, a lazy attempt from a frustrated player but the reaction from the media (listened on the radio too) suggested that it was something much more than it was. This insinuation is that it’s the same old “bitching” (McCarthy used the word to describe the current debate about tackling) Arsene showing shameful hypocrisy demonstrated by his players, Wilshere and Fabregas and his team touted recently in the Telegraph as being the “dirtiest” as we sit top of the disciplinarily table. As Amos rightly says, Wenger is not declaring his players as being above a bad tackle but he is opening up a debate about a malaise in the game that has witnessed some dreadful injuries. Wenger has every right to champion this cause because it is he who has watched three of his players suffer very badly from reckless challenges. Although McCarthy has the moral high ground at the moment, he mustn’t use it to end the debate. He should follow the example set by Wenger when he apologised for Cesc’s tackle by being magnanimous and let the debate go on.
Sir Henry
12/11/2010 14:47:00
I'm in the same boat as Rocky, only saw the game on MOTD and didn't even know about a Henry tackle.
Arsenales F.C
12/11/2010 16:33:00
Jaelle, didn't know about the Dixon explanation. Nice of him to apologise to AW, but how about saying something on his MOTD blog? The papers are full of how dirty a team Arsenal are at the moment, which is funny considering we we're supposed to be soft touches as well. I have no respect for managers like McCarthy, no matter how chummy and funny they think they are. If you say nothing to your player (or he says nothing to you) after a challenge like that then you are condoning that sort of play. McCarthy has obviously said nothing to Henry. None of these idiots are really talking about removing bad tackling from the game, they're just trying to score points against Wenger and Arsenal.
Wyn Mills
12/11/2010 17:28:00
Funny thing is, everyone has branded Cesc's challenge has awful and deserving of a red card, but when Joe Cole was red carded for a similar challenge against Koscielny in our opening match of the season against Liverpool, the same pundits were saying it wasn't one and Joe was just going for the ball. The hypocrisy in this country at the moment is astonishing.
12/11/2010 17:35:00
First it was "we're being targeted by a physical approach". Then it was "we need to stamp out bad tackling", after Arsenal players were exposed doing it as well. People have stopped listening to Wenger because he comes across as a hypocrite with a chipped-shoulder. Harry was spot on after Bale was targeted by Bolton. He's got to be able to take a tackle, hasn't he"?, he said. Personally, I think it's a good thing your players are finally putting themselves about, you never know you might win a trophy again some time before the next millenium. I'd like to start a campaign sorting out the behaviour of managers on the touchline. Wenger: confronation with pardew, confrontation with Jol, sent to stands at OT, refuses to shake Hughes's hand......
Tony Rocky Horror
12/11/2010 18:08:00
The MOTD coverage was shocking. I watched the game live on TV and the to be fair the co-commentator acknowledged the Henry and Milijas challenge and specfically said that Henry deserved red. They also showed the Henry challenge a few times again to see it from different angles. But on MOTD they pretended as if the Henry challenge never happened, maybe it was because the referee had completely failed to see what happened. The Cesc challenge on the other hand was given a significant portion of the highlights with the camera panning to Wenger (look at that hypocrite type shot), and the pundits also gave their views on it. Here is the Henry tackle
12/11/2010 21:28:00
Wenger is right to keep focussed on the real issues. Others will try to deflect onto irrelevances but tackling can be improved if we keep the issue going. McCarthy's desire to avoid the issue is to escape just the sort of analysis that's bound to come up if he were to condemn Cesc too vociferously. Football will be all the better for it and creative players will have more licence to play the game the way we all would really prefer to pay to watch. Provided that the game can be made to see that it's important enough. Sadly that only seems to be the case when a player is seriously injured.
12/11/2010 22:40:00
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