That was the weekend that was.
The media reporting of the Eduardo incident was painfully predictable, but that didn’t make it any less disappointing. Rather than address the issue of dangerous tackles in the sport, and the widely held belief that a three match ‘catch all’ ban is unwise, they chose to focus on Wenger’s comments, those very same comments that he retracted once he got out of the heat of the moment situation.
Now, Wenger’s words went too far, and he’s admitted as much. Perhaps too late for some of the Sunday tabloids, but why are we still reading about them in the Monday papers? He’s retracted them, folks. Move on.
And with that, so will I, back to where the focus of the stories should be – the challenge itself.
Martin Taylor, to his immense credit, has acted impeccably since the challenge. While the tackle (if you can even call it that) was appalling and probably intended to let Eduardo know he was there, there is no doubt that he was as shocked as anyone at the damage he caused, perhaps more so as the perpetrator. He didn’t contest the red card, hasn’t since, walked off the field looking as shellshocked as any of the Arsenal players, and has since chosen to visit Eduardo in person rather than embarking on a PR mission through the press. He’s earned respect for the dignified and correct way he’s conducted himself since Saturday lunchtime. It seems he really isn’t ‘that sort of player’.
But no matter what the retrospective regret, the three match ban is still laughable. I realise that they are the rules, but the rules are ridiculous and need changing.
On top of Taylor’s sincerity, there is one more piece of good news, and that is the determination of the injured party to return, whenever that may be.
“I am unsure at the moment of the extent of the injury and how long I will be out of action for, but I know that I won’t be able to play for Arsenal for the rest of the season or be ready in time for the Euros this summer.”
“But I’m not worried about that. My concentration and determination is on making as quick a recovery as possible. I am determined to overcome this injury.”
His comments show the right sense of perspective – he must be gutted to miss the run in of his first Premiership season, and an international tournament where he could’ve shined, but instead of dwelling on that he’s focusing on just getting back. And it’s nice to see fans of all clubs wishing for the same thing.
Unfortunately, while these incidents can bring out the best in some, they bring out the worst in others. The media are always overblown, but they’re paid to be sensationalist so I guess we get used to it, but Stephen Kelly has lost every ounce of credibility with his delusional defence of the tackle:
“I don’t think you can send a player off for that. Tiny has committed himself. He has gone in with one foot, slid along the ground.”
I agree that he went in with one foot, but the other two statements are complete nonsense. You can, and should, send a player off for that, because such tackles have been outlawed precisely for the reason we saw on Saturday. And you’ve all seen the pictures, I’ve posted them already and don’t feel like doing it again, but if you can claim Taylor slid along the ground then you’re as much of a fool as Kelly.
I can sympathise with tackles when the defender slides in, and the foot bounces up off the turf into an opponents shin. Those are tackles performed correctly but ending unfortunately. But Taylor’s leg was coming down on to Eduardo’s shin. The ground didn’t enter into it.
It is a shame that idiots like Stephen Kelly can detract from the impressive way that Taylor has conducted himself. You won’t hear him complain about his red card or ban, and I also suspect that if his suspension was extended the only bleating you’d hear would come from his teammates. I didn’t expect to be crediting him so highly, only two days after the challenge, but am pleasantly surprised.
If only his teammates had the same class. And don’t get me started on Garth Crooks.