Final part of my Birmingham Mail column Weds Nov 14th 2018
Is tackling a dying art? That is a question I find myself asking after watching most games. I witness lots of perfectly timed tackles that win the ball but are being punished by referees for over aggressiveness?
One of the better things about the modern game is that defenders are not allowed to tackle from behind and that has been a massive plus point when it comes to entertaining attacking play. Also the “over the top” tackle has virtually disappeared from the game and when they do happen culprits are rightly banned either by red card or post-match by video evidence.
However it appears that almost ever strong challenge is deemed a foul. When a player is tackled at the pace the game is played at in all likelihood he will end up on the floor but that does not mean he has been fouled. And of course you can get hurt by a fair tackle and referees surely have to understand that and not be too quick to penalise and or get out a card. Accidents do happen in any contact sport especially those that are played at such great pace.
It is quite easy to spot a challenge that is a deliberate attempt to injure an opponent and they should be punished severely by the referees and subsequently by the FA. However let us not have a non-contact sport. Sure strikers would be delighted however a lot of defenders would be out of work and replaced by tippy tappy step over drag back footballers. Give defenders a break and stop going on about”his studs were showing” as that does not mean a foul has been committed unless it is well off the floor
In my opinion a game without tough but fair tackles is boring. We do see plenty of them as teams concern themselves with possession of the ball than anything else. Also defenders are scared to make a challenge these days for fear of conceding a penalty or a free kick in a dangerous position.
Most forwards are tricky and quick so a defender can try to make an honest fair tackle but ends up tripping the forward because he is quicker than the defender. So defenders end up being punished because the forward is a better player?
Lots of defenders try to stop a cross with their hands behind their backs for fear of conceding a penalty for hand ball. What’s that all about? Surely they cannot jump or react to anything standing like that?
Most managers/head coaches talk about needing a player that can “win the ball back” well how the hell he is going to do that without tackling.
Rant over! that’s what happens with no league football to look forward to. You turn into a football Victor Meldrew moaning about everything.