Oct 102010

I’m sure, like me, it frustrates you no end that a large part of the media have been panning Wenger for what seems an eternity for his crusade against violent tackling, but have completely switched their viewpoint now that others have joined in. The hypocrisy is laid bare – take these two articles by Paul Parker, for example:

Wenger should apologise to Shawcross
Brutal de Jong deserves punishment

In case you don’t want to sit through Parker’s illiterate nonsense (and I wouldn’t blame you), I’ll summarise. In March, he penned an article insisting that injuries caused by the likes of Ryan Shawcross were ‘unfortunate’, and that Wenger was the one in the wrong for being angry. Seven months later, he criticises similarly brutal challenges, calling for lengthy bans and their eradication from the game.

Of course, Parker regularly comes out with articles that amount to no more than diseased spittle, but the double standards he demonstrates are sadly commonplace. As Wenger himself noted, the minute he mentions tackling, the world stops listening and pens a cookie cutter ‘whinging Wenger’ column. That he wants to remove tackling from the game is a media myth, now believed by the majority.

However, in the wake of some shocking challenges in matches not involving Arsenal, the subject has become the hot topic is should have been a long time ago. Karl Henry is the current serial offender, but almost as worrying as his continued recklessness is the speed at which he is defended. One such backer is Ryan Shawcross, an irony he might appreciate if he understood the word better than Alanis Morissette.

Elsewhere, there is Nigel de Jong, who followed up his World Cup Final kung fu kick by breaking Hatem Ben Arfa’s leg, a challenge that saw him dropped from the Dutch squad. That he caused such an injury is of no surprise – with his tackling ‘style’ such an event was an inevitability.

What was more surprising was the lack of ‘not that sort of player’ comments in the aftermath, and even a newfound focus on the issue. With no England match or Premiership football for ten days, the media have had nothing else to talk about, and after Danny Murphy bravely broke ranks to suggest that certain managers should take a long hard look at themselves for sending players out with violent intent, they were left with no choice.

Finally, players who ‘get stuck in‘ and ‘let the opponent know they’re there‘ are being scrutinised. Perhaps something will come of it – with the authorities so reactive to media outrage it is a possibility that a clampdown will occur, or perhaps it will all blow over in a week or two as those irresponsible managers tell their lumbering apes to behave until something else becomes the hot topic.

But one thing would kill this momentum in an instant – Wenger joining the fray. Public opinion is currently against insane challenges, partly because the likes of Murphy are well respected, and partly because de Jong and Henry have few redeeming qualities (in fact, Henry’s astonished reaction to being sent off was the poster moment of this whole story). If Wenger chimed in at this juncture, that would change rapidly.

And he knows it. After years of saying everything the press are now parroting, he must be tearing his hair out. Time after time he has been parodied for his opinion, and now that the masses finally see where he’s coming from, he is showing remarkable restraint to keep counsel. It can only be because he recognises that he must stay out of it for any true action to occur.

For a long time it seemed that only serious injury to an England star would see this kind of movement against morons like Allardyce and Pulis, but the broken leg of an exciting player, new to the Premiership, caused by a repeat offender, in a week with no football, has seen the tide finally turn.

Despite the temptation to call out the hypocrites, Wenger must now stay out of it.

  35 Responses to “The wisest thing Wenger could do now is stay silent on tackling”

  1. Absolutely. Nigh on impossible as it must be, sitting there with a nice glass of something French and red and knowing that he was right all along should be its own reward. Let the illiterate and the idiotic battle it out between them and rise above the mire.

    • I’m sure he’s at least slightly happy that it is an issue. Shows how good he is at PR though that he has the sense to keep quiet now.

  2. You’re so right (especially the Alanis Morisette bit).
    There can be only one response from Wenger when they ask him what he thought of the challenges – I didn’t see them!

  3. Spot on, I even tried to hunt down Paul Parker and pull him up on this and show him that he is totally contradicting himself but i cant find him!!!

  4. No need of prof Wenger aplogising to Shawcross. Shawcross is a really murderer actually he should never play against talented players like those in Arsenal he needs to go back to coca-cola so that he can learn football

  5. The point is, that (unlike some managers) when asked a question AW answers it. This makes him excellent copy for journalists, especially revolting tabloid journalists who enjoy twisting his words and reporting them out of context.

    All the toss you read about AW manipulating the press and influencing referees is beside the point, he just says what he thinks.

    Personally I think that’s rather a good thing…

  6. Wenger will always answer every question the press put to him. The only reason he has stayed ‘silent’ so far is because he hasn’t been asked for his opinion.

    The British media are a funny animal, they treat people like Fergie with respect because he is so surly with them. I often wish Wenger would decline to comment or ban reporters for twisting his words, but Wenger believes in doing the right thing and will never take the cowards way out.

    • To be honest, at this juncture, if he were asked about the issue I imagine he’d have enough nous to brush it off with a comment along the lines of ‘I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about it enough already’ or similar.

  7. The thing is wenger is far a head of them n they don’t like it
    he knew wat would happen if we spend a lot of money on players n thire wages n look at teams now it took them three or more years to get it n we t very lucky to hv wenger as our manger

  8. Why the media treat Ferguson with respect has always amazed me. He has a lot to answer for, after nurturing thugs like Keane and the Neville brothers. Now he has a sneaky thug in Scholes to foul with practically every tackle he makes. I have no time for managers like Ferguson whose mouth is far too big when dealing with players, refs and fourth officials.

  9. The more I hear comments like, “they are just playing to the strengths”, “there was no intent”, “we cant take tackling out of the game”, “he got the ball so it cant be a foul”, the more I am convinced that the national side will continue to fail.

    • Completely – we drum the wrong values into players from a young age. Working hard is clearly a good thing, but if aligned with poor technique we’ll get found out time and time again.

  10. The wisest thing for Wenger would be to stay silent altogether. There are more than enough problems on the pitch to keep him busy.

  11. Such idiotic making of Wenger talking less….Is England given freedom of speech….Why do you champion the thoughts of Wenger not trashing the thuggish tackles…Duh!! Marseille president Jean-Claude Dassier said their lawyers were already working on the case…..Hatem Ben Arfa double fracture..
    Jean-Claude Dassier said …We will clearly bring charges against the player,’ he said. ‘You need to rid the European football pitches of this kind of player.’

    • Hmm, not entirely sure what you’re trying to say here.

      I think you think I’m saying Wenger shouldn’t speak because he has no right to, which means you’ve completely missed the point of the post.

      • I think the poster, “Arsenal”, is likely French because he knows about Marseille preparing a legal action against the player in question, De Jong.

        The poster probably just misunderstood and thought that the press is trying to stifle Wenger, when the truth is the press twist Wenger’s words and ridicule him.

        When Wenger complained about Robinson’s X-rated lunge on Diaby, I don’t think there was one instance of the “tackle” in question being shown on television in the UK nor was there any photo of the studs to shin in any of the major media as far as I’m aware.

        It was a Saturday 3 p.m. kickoff so it wasn’t shown in the UK, but the match was shown in my country as well as many others. I saw how bad a tackle it was. Diaby wanted to have a go at Robinson and he should have ripped his neck off after that assault if he wasn’t held back.

        So Match of the Day didn’t show the horror tackle and almost nobody saw it. But the press did do their best to attack Wenger for complaining about something that they didn’t see.

        It’s good that Marseille will be suing De Jong. They should sue the FA as well because they have done nothing to punish leg-breaking tackles and have thereby encouraged it.

        After the incident, I said that Newcastle should sue the FA. I forgot that Ben Arfa was only on loan and his contract is still owned by Marseille. They should also sue whoever is in charge of the English referees.

        Only until the FA is scared about losing ten’s of millions of pounds for incompetently encouraging reckless and dangerous behavior on the pitch, will they change their ways.

  12. Of course the other aspect to consider here… shawcross, Henry etc are just honest, no-nonsense brit players doing what comes naturally, and so the media stay silent… that de jong is dutch makes it acceptable to hang, draw and quarter him!

    It’s not new, its jingoism at work, and it will eventually kill football in this country.

    • True – and it is nothing new. The only surprise is Karl Henry, but I guess he is never going to threaten to help the England team so he’s also fair game. They have gone after him.

      I think the victim is important too – Ben Arfa has just arrived, and with a bang too, so his stock was high. The reasons we all thought an English player needed to get hurt before we saw action are the same reasons Ben Arfa has such sympathy – he is viewed higher than many.

    • Man u’r spot on coz every unfair tackle made by an english lad is treated as soft and any other foreigner’s is crucified and scrutinised worse still if he’s of african descent he’ll probably be a devil
      The English press just makes me loose taste in the premier League

  13. FIFA and UEFA must both step in to put FA to take actions on thuggish tackles…THe truth was things will take a clear turn with strong books on reckless tackles but stick to committed English beautiful play

    • Thing is, FIFA and UEFA don’t need to – the FA have the jurisdiction to hand our lengthy punishments if they want to, but they choose not to.

      • Also Fifa and Uefa have a terrible track record for this type of stuff. Look at how badly they handled the Eduardo/Celtic tackle/penalty incident. A simpleton could see that there was contact (only minor but contact never the less) and that it would have been far worse if Eduardo hadn’t seen it coming been ready to go down so easily. We could have seen a player with leg break twice! But uefa f*cked it up and then had to back track faster than the italian tank corp.

  14. Good article. Despite the ire drawn at Wenger’s comments, it does get a good wide coverage and hence, the likes of Murphy breaking ranks. How do you think he came up with the same set of names as Wenger would have if he were to be less polite ?

    I think Wenger should continue speaking the truth and calling out on everything that is wrong with football. We have already seen how debt can cripple institutions like Liverpool and Manchester United. His warning on unsustainable debt has so far gone unheeded, but wait till Roman gets tired of chelsea and sheikh tires of ManCity. The chickens will come home to roost then.

    We dont need people like Fergie who refuse to condemn the likes of Shawcross or Taylor. Sadly he chose the route of cowards. I’d rather have a courageous visionary speaking the unpalatable truth despite the fears of being misrepresented.

  15. The only reason people have problem with AW is bcos he sees the future in football and he can predict the changes which the morons in england do not understand, as a result they criticise him for being an idiot where as they are the idiots. AW’s way of thinking is too advanced for them to comprehend.

  16. Maybe one reason he is keeping quiet is becasue he is a visionary, a gentleman, and above all a lover of football. Whatever his faults may be and as human beings they are in our DNA, I always believe that he has the heart of football at the centre of his thinking.

    The English media are complete joke with this and as many an overseas blogger has stated, they are myopic (ha) and have shown a level of professional bigotry in respect to Wengers views.

    The chickens have come home to roost. Just wait and see what happens if Wayne gets his leg broken.

  17. FIFA are putting english refs under scrutiny anf with the world cup bid the FA has to make sure they crack down on these challenges. there is international amazement that the zamora and ben arfa challenges were not even deemd to be fouls – just like robinson on diaby. perhaps finally we’ll see the end of this ridiculous english interpretation of football law that says it’s not a foul if the player touches the ball. that’s how players like de jong thrive. take the ball with the leading leg and the player with the trailing leg – it’s cynical foul play. de jong should be tried in a criminal court for what he did – plainly he deliberately jumped on ben arfa’s leg. it was GBH.

    • Does the nation holding the world cup have more refs taking part?
      I thought they only had one set (of 3 or 4).

  18. Paul Parker is no journalist. In fact many of the commentators in English football are no journalists. Remember one bloke called Alan Hansen?

    A half decent journalist would dissect the issue and comment on both sides with venom reserved for the criminal. After Ramsey’s and Eduardo’s horrific injuries, what I could remember hearing most was the criminals were the victims, and the victims should not be playing in a man’s game.

    Like many of you I sincerely wish to see a Rooney, Lampard or Gerard leg break in two places, otherwise we get fed with the same rubbish and the same recycled comments from ex-footballers-turned-commentators. Then again, I would not be so cruel. I hope Rooney, Lampard or Gerard have a brilliant career and come out now to speak up against such “British grit” tackles.

    • Thing is, you won’t get a Shawcross or Henry double-leg-break on a Rooney or Gerrard, beacuse they know they wont get away with it. Someone like Zamora is only a fringe England player, so the chances of major media uproar was less likely.

      • I don’t really think anyone (apart from pikey keane) goes out to break a leg, It just happens sometimes as a result of the manager motivating the less skilled players to be hard in the tackle. When they kick someone after the ball has gone but the victim just staggers away bruised but not seriously hurt then Fat Sam (or Pulis or…) smiles his smug smile and the dim-witted player thinks ‘uggg the boss smiles, I make him happy again’ so he kicks another opponent, and the cycle goes on. Inevitable the ‘kick him’ approach ends up with serious injuries occassionally. It can happen to Shrek or StevieG but they are a bit quicker on their toes than most.

  19. It can takes a dumber like UEFA/FIFA to only get a dumb like FA to punish every reckless tackles to clear the English game(No it would take their most important players like Rooney to take actions….Duh! Is that any basic respect for other players safety into tackles. In fact Bobby Moore won his tackles clean…huh!)….Wenger should comment as it needs constant bombardment to allow FA and some smart aleck to finally see the right mentality & start strong condemn and right actions taken….Not forget Wenger brings the paradigm shift to the training, tactics nouses etc to the English & he was ridicule…Duh! right English committment to the tackles of game would be what the world dire to watch but it was clear in the whole reckless (or thuggish) are what cause the free flowing of the game & honest team going out to enjoy and compete……Belgium FA did that to player in the league (I just remember a Belgium int’l player) for at leat 12 match bans which was reduced to something like 8 match after appeal…..Problem was the English mentality was so back dated & look Spanish fans in La Liga strongly advocate technical players but stamping out the full committed tackles which was really a spoilt to watch…Period

  20. You are 100% right.

    But we all know that Arsene will not be able to resist the temptation to speak about it !


  21. In North America, the National Hockey League (ice hockey) had a huge image problem in the 1970s because of intimidation/fighting The emphasis on intimidation/fighting meant that Canada and the US were gradually losing their competitive advantages and were not doing well in international tournaments. Yes, there is still fighting and head shots but legislation by the NHL has/is getting rid of it and both teams are regularly favourites in all tournaments. The comment of whether you can prove intent does not come into it at all. You are expected to control your body/stick at all times.

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