I grew up watching football on a diet of tough defenders, top goal-scorers and midfielders who always looked forward and tried to get their strikers in behind the opponents defence. We are in an era of passing for passing’s sake by everybody in the team including, in many teams, the goalkeeper as well.
We have all grown used to watching the defenders pass the ball backwards and forwards to each other before one of them gives it to the keeper who usually hits it over the half way line. Something that could have been done 4 or 5 minutes before!
Now though we are also seeing a new breed of defender in the game-the passive defender or as I prefer to call them conscientious objectors who rarely lay a glove on their opponents. Sure they can all play and pass and some can even do drag backs and step overs but tough tackling seems to be missing from their repertoire.
Watch how defenders, not all by a long way, but many none the less jump and tuck their head into their shoulders when they compete aerially for a ball in the air!
I was at MK Dons v Wigan for talkSPORT on Saturday and we had two red cards and 6 yellow cards and yet there wasn’t a dirty tackle in what was quite niggly but never a dirty game.
Of course the way referees are under orders to implement and interpret the laws of the game may mean that the reality is that tough tackling has been driven out of the game withdefenders knowing that most tough challenges will see the referee pulling out a card. It matters not that a defender has won the ball if in the referee’s opinion the tackle was overly aggressive.
I hope I am not alone in enjoying the physical side of the game? I find a tough no nonsense tackle far more entertaining and exciting than two centre halves passing the ball to each other.