“He’s Not That Type Of Player”
Once again we have heard those six famous words. He’s not that type of player. Or words to that extent by those rushing to absolve Callum McManaman of full responsibility and consequence for his horrendous tackle on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara.
The continuous use of the phrase that diminishes responsibility in professionals – yes professional players, not novices – is astounding. Too often we seem to hear more sympathy towards the offending defender than the suffering victim on his way to hospital.
An element of compassion for guys not being serial leg breakers is unbelievable As comedy genius Chris Rock put it it’s like giving credit to people “..for shit you’re supposed to do. “I take care of my kids” You’re supposed to you dumb motherfucker! “I ain’t ever been to jail..” WHAT D’YA WANT, A COOKIE?!”
Right now I couldn’t care less whether poor old McManaman will be tainted by his reckless actions on Sunday. His head was gone in that moment. He wasn’t surprised, nor did he flinch at the hard contact, but instead ran off to commit a blatant handball seconds later. I’m more concerned that Haidara recovers soon. McManaman was just over enthusiastic according to his manager Roberto Martinez. So was Paul Gascoigne in the 1991 FA Cup Final. And that ended well.
Anyway, what is the quota for the amount of bad challenges you are allowed before you are that type of player?
The assumption that that type of player has to be a some kind of Neanderthal villain to justify total condemnation only obscures the truths of football. Not all bad tackles are premeditated like Roy Keane’s when he ended Alf-Inge Haland’s career. He summed up his revenge in his autobiography:
“I’d waited almost 180 minutes for Alfie, three years if you look at it another way. Now he had the ball on the far touchline. Alfie was taking the piss. I’d waited long enough. I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you cunt. And don’t ever stand over me again sneering about fake injuries. And tell your pal Wetherall there’s some for him as well. I didn’t wait for Mr Elleray to show the red card. I turned and walked to the dressing room“
If Keane hadn’t spelled it out so honestly there would be those still excusing him.
What many commentators fail to grasp is that a bad tackle can be made in the heat of the moment by almost any player when an individual moves in through either fear, aggression and/or total abandon thinking “fuck it”. Sometimes that will be a laughed off like a Paul Scholes tackle. He is given special thuggish dispensation, particularly and luckily if the victim gets up. And at other times Aaron Ramsey will end up with a disfigured double fracture of the leg because Ryan Shawcross felt it was necessary to run at him at dangerous velocity to show his punk manager that he is committed.
A challenge like McManaman’s where you scrape the top of the ball but follow through your opponent has been used by thugs for decades as a stealth reducer to avoid punishment. Either that or he shouldn’t be a professional footballer if he cannot be accurate enough to connect with the middle of a ball that’s not travelling deceptively.
Protecting players from abuse, both physical assaults and vile verbal outbursts, should be the paramount concern of any society, let alone football itself.
Horrible accidents will happen. David Busst’s stomach churning multiple leg break was nobody’s fault. But that is wholly different from a player going in without due care and attention.
Note to Wigan chairman Dinosaur Dave Whelan: Players always have options. There is a simple way to judge this. Would that tackle have been attempted in your own box? Only a total maniac would blatantly smash into a player and give away a penalty kick. Although we continue to overlook the desperate clattering attempts to score or block near-certain goals where basically anything goes.
We appear more preoccupied about the bullshit notion that tackling is a dying art. I wrote about that fallacy two weeks ago and fear I’ll be banging on about it for years to come.
I have what to most will be a draconian solution. If you are guilty of causing injury through malice or negligence you are given a minimum suspension until your victim regains full fitness. Three game bans for career threatening “tackles” are cloaked holiday invitations to the malicious militia of hard nuts to just crack on. I can already see the counter argument that my measures are too harsh because it can ruin a player’s career.
For years that is exactly what’s been happening to those on stretchers.
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