Wednesday 11 May 2011

Nasty Tackles EPL Round 36: Part 1 of 2

As the business end of the Premiership season hots up, there appeared to be a number of serious incidents that were perhaps missed or poorly dealt with by match officials over the weekend on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 May 2011. This is a time when match officials have to be at their very best. Although it has been a long, tiring, intensive season, and despite the fact that fitness and concentration levels may be waning, this is no time to perform poorly.

Here are some of these missed or poorly dealt with incidents from three premiership matches. As usual, there is a SUMMARY at the end of Part 2 of this long two-part post which comments mainly on nasty tackles.

Stoke City v Arsenal on Sunday 8 May 2011. The match finished 3—1.

Two Jack Wilshere tackles were particularly nasty.

First Wilshere tackle

In the 15th minute, Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere lunges wildly and makes contact with his studs on Stoke midfielder Dean Whitehead. Wilshere then reacts because Whitehead lands on him due to his own poor tackle. Handbags come out.

After the handbags, Referee Mark Halsey gives a no-nonsense public warning to Jack Wilshere. Halsey clearly says "No more".

Second Wilshere tackle

In the 69th minute, Wilshere goes in studs first against Stoke midfielder (and ex-Arsenal player) Jermaine Pennant.

This is not a fair 50-50 challenge. As mentioned in previous posts about unfair challenges (e.g. here), one player (in this case, Wlishere) is clearly endangering the safety of his opponent, as opposed to the other competing player who is focused on playing the ball. In 50-50 challenges, both (or all) players are entitled to challenge for the ball. What they are not entitled to is to do so in a manner that will, or could potentially, endanger the safety (and career) of their opponent.

Mark Halsey was wrong to only caution Wilshere; especially in light of the fact that he had already given young Jack an ultimatum of "No more" earlier in the 15th minute of the match. The yellow to Jermaine Pennant was correct.

Tight Offside not called

In the 12th minute, there was an offside decision to make.

I acknowledge that this is a tight and tough call, However, we have seen ARs correctly make these calls before (look out for a future post on this: tight offside calls), so there is an expectation generated here; perhaps unreasonably so.

The problem is that, unless there is a clear directive from the FA that promotes attacking play, whenever the media expose and highlight these tight offsides as being "wrong" (despite the fact that ARs are human and in such tight decisions giving the attacking team the benefit of doubt is indeed promoting attacking play) all the blame and bile and bitterness gets aimed directly at the match officials. Therefore, is it clear to all that attacking play should be promoted in the Premier League?

Tottenham Hotspur v Blackpool on Saturday 7 May 2011. The match finished 1—1.

Charlie Adam serious foul play

In the 61st minute, Spurs winger Gareth Bale rides a challenge from behind by Keith Southern (who Bale just nutmegged) but cannot avoid Blackpool captain Charlie Adam, who aggressively charges in and stamps on Bale's left foot with his studs. Oftentimes, inferior opponents react negatively when a piece of skill is executed well and leaves mud on the face(s) of opponents. Did this have a bearing on Adam's nasty tackle?

[Beware: the following freeze frames may induce a sensation of horror and sympathy, simultaneously!]

Scotsman Charlie Adam makes a nasty tackle on Welshman Gareth Bale

Did Referee Lee Probert have the angle?

The answer appears to be "No". Furthermore, the location of the incident also meant that the ARs and 4th Official could not see what actually happened either.

The FA should take retrospective action against Blackpool's Charlie Adam. If the FA does so, it will send a clear message to players and coaches that tough aggressive tackles that pose a threat to player safety (and could even be career-threatening) will not be tolerated. The FA has taken retrospective action before with Lee Bowyer receiving a three-match ban for a stamping incident earlier this season.

However, Spurs boss Harry Redknapp refused to blame Adam and said:
"It was a bad challenge by Charlie [Adam] but it's out of character for him."

Next, Part 2 of 2

1 comment:

  1. Re. the Wilshere one - you can't send a player off for a bookable offence if you warned them earlier. Defeats the object of the yelow/red system. Yellow was right, but only because he hadn't booked him earlier, which he should really have done - I think he let him off because he's young and not seen as a dirty player, yet. Had it been Joey Barton the yellow would have come straight out.