Arsene Wenger has released a statement saying that his comments regarding Martin Taylor, in which he said he thought the defender should never play football again, were ‘said in the heat of the moment, and were excessive on reflection‘.
Admirable though it is to retract some strong words, I suspect he also realised that without the softening of his words, he could have been seen as whining in the media who are itching to take a pop at Arsenal. Witness the BBC or Sky coverage of the match, where both Andy Gray and Garth Crooks claimed that the tackle was not necessarily worthy even of a yellow card.
While the tackle may have been badly mistimed and ugly rather than designed to have the end result, it was still a highly dangerous tackle that could’ve been withdrawn before impact. It was still over the ball. And over the ball tackles are automatic red cards. Tell me, how can so called experts see this and claim that the red card was harsh?
Credit to McLeish though. I said earlier that I hoped he’d admit that tackle was bad after seeing replays, and he did at least confess that it deserved the red card. So if a player’s own manager recognises it, how can the analysts not?
These tackles have been outlawed because they can break legs. Today proved why referees have been right to clamp down on them, no matter what Garth Crooks says about ‘physicality being removed from the game‘. These are the livelihoods of young men, and we are obliged to protect them.
So credit to McLeish, and credit to Wenger for toning down his comments. But I bet if you asked whether he thought a three match ban was fair, he’d scoff.
If you really want to clamp down on dangerous tackles, you have to classify them differently to some of the innocuous acts we see red cards given for. If a player is sent off for a dangerous tackle, the by all means start with three matches, but extend it in bad cases. It has already happened in the Champions League this season, when Benfica’s Binya got six matches for a shocking challenge. Why not apply the same approach here?
I hope Martin Taylor feels suitably contrite tonight. He should do – he has put the career of a young fellow professional in serious jeopardy.