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Is the tide turning against thuggish football?

Celebrating the remarkable honesty of Danny Murphy.

By Ian Trevett

It doesn’t need me to point out that Arsenal have been kicked around a fair bit over the last few years. Three smashed legs in five years isn’t a co-incidence, as everyone knows that ‘the only way to play Arsenal is to get in their faces and let them know you are there’.

The problem for Arsene Wenger is that complaining has often made the situation worse. It is no secret that the northern mafia of useless managers can’t stand Wenger and his refusal to join their chummy golf and post-match wine club. They’ll send out their cloggers and when Wenger complains they’ll attempt ridicule him.

The reason Wenger complains is that his pretty little team can’t cope with the strong tackling in the English game, they’ll smugly argue. And the more Wenger gets irate the more they believe the tactics work. So they pile in harder and become more aggressive.

If they go too far and destroy a player’s career, they’ll tell the world what a lovely bloke the aggressor is and how he’d never deliberately hurt an opponent. Even then, Wenger can’t complain as people actually feel sorry for the poor guy who has broken a fellow pro’s leg. “He comes from a lovely family,” as Pulis loves to say.

But in recent weeks, the tide has started to turn. De Jong breaks Ben Arfa’s leg and not even a card is shown. Predictably the studio pundits says it was just unlucky.

But Newcastle refuse to accept the mealy-mouthed apologies and demand action. And so they should. Holland then refuse to pick De Jong to spell out their repulsion at his ‘tackle’.

When Shawcross smashed Ramsey’s leg, England rewarded Shawcross with an immediate call-up. It was so swift, Ramsey was probably still in the ambulance. It felt like a reward the Stoke player. Of course Holland were no angels in the World Cup final, but perhaps they have decided to make a stand to restore their reputation.

The unhinged tackling of Henry from Wolves has finally provoked a strong response, but best of all was the speech from a most unlikely source – Danny Murphy. He has always been a combative player, but he has decided that the tactics employed by some managers has gone too far.

By highlighting the aggression from Blackburn, Stoke and Wolves, he has now shone the spotlight on the real dinosaurs of English football. He talked about how they just try to stop people playing and how the managers send the players too pumped up.

It was a brave speech as it challenges the English way of play (a way of play that has ensured our national  team has stayed light years behind Spain and Germany). Straight away the forces of brain dead football came out to rubbish him. Dave Bassett criticised Murphy for accusing Allardyce, Pulis and McCarthy of sending out players to deliberately hurt opponents (Murphy never said this at all).

The best thing about the stance by Newcastle, Murphy and Holland is that it turns the attention on the neanderthal management of Pulis, Allardyce and co. and they can’t just dismiss it as bleating from Wenger. It is just the start but at last the advocates of thuggish football are having to justify their out-dated tactics.

MUST READ: Arsenal travel back to the future

23 comments to Is the tide turning against thuggish football?

  • Ronnie Brown

    Good point, and I agree, it’s slightly turning, I think us as fans should try and get our opinion to as much media as possible, radio stations, tv phone ins, online, every media outlet we can to let them know our views cause if enough people do it it will increase the pressure to eliminate these disgraceful dangerous tackles. I notice after Arsene complained about the assualt on Diaby in a few of the next games some of the refs deliberatly let bad tackles go on us, as if to make the point Arsenal should just take it, same after it was claimed Nasri dived, we weren’t given several penalities after that, even though prveiously we had a fair share of them, need more pressure on the refs through the media to be fair, cause they are certainly effected by the media, not asking for any kind of bias whatsoever, just don’t allow overly dangerous tackles, allow commitment and agressive tackles, but not wreckless or violence.

  • Clerkenwell Gooner

    Samir Nasri also spoke out, regarding the Ben Arfa leg break. I think it’s really got to come from the players themselves at this point. Everyone ignores Arsene, but it’s the players who are actually out there.

    It’s brave of Sami considering he’s 1) part of an Arsenal side that’s already being targeted by the thugs 2) has had his leg broken himself, albeit in training, by Diaby.

    But we already knew Sami was brave, the way he reacted to Joey Barton that time.

  • Marc

    Good piece and well said Danny Murphy. People have to learn there is a difference between being combative & committed and being reckless.

  • Ronnie Brown

    It was good of Danny Murphy to come out , we definetly need more English people to come out so we don’t hear the same rubbish they target Arsene with.

  • Maverick

    People also forget that Shawcross is now also the captain at Stoke, and that SICKENS me, its almost as if pulis asked him to do that act and then was like “Well done Shawcross you are an inspiration to this team you are who we want our whole team to look up to, good on you son you are now our captain and leader”

    It just goes to show what a shambles and disgrace this is becoming when it seems that players such as these get praised and lauded in the media and then get a double shot of praise by their own team by getting more priveldges…..no wonder they don’t want to change when it seems the managers want this to happen. I guarantee you that people will say “no manager will want that so how dare you defame our manager” but if that is truly the case WHY THE HELL is Shawcross (beforehand a sorta fringe player) now a CAPTAIN??!!

  • mohammed

    thats why many english players cant succeed abroad. if nothing is done,your nationalteam will continue to lag behind spain holland germany brazil etc untill you stop rewarding shawcross &co

  • Bio

    Cattermole is skipper of his team, Shawcross is skipper of his team-that says it all. Murphy made a valid point, what people who really love football have been saying for years. Fans need to put pressure on FIFA to do the right thing-get thuggery out of football!

  • Woolwichstilhere

    U hav to admire d way murphy presented his points

  • Phil

    Good article. Sadly, it will take a leg break of a big England international before something is done.

  • insideright

    When you remember that Murphys current manager is Mark Hughes who was one of the earliest members of the ‘thuggish Northern Managers’ when at Blackburn (and who got sacked by Man City shortly after sending out a team to kick Arsenal off the pitch yet again)then it’s even braver of him to speak out.
    Maybe he’s now planning his future in the media after he retires as a player – and basing his pitch on refreshing candour rather than the usual bilge that we’re forced to get used to. Whatever the case, more power to him.

  • RedGooner

    Well Murphy wont get a job commentating for the BBC after that one 🙂 Their heads are well and truly stuck in the sand !

    Im pretty sure if you look under dinosaurs in the dictionary Pullis, Fat Sam and McCarthy are there.

    Its nice to see a few more wakening up to the tactics of these teams Fulham should have argued more also but then again with the new manager they have that’s not likely.

  • Whaynot

    Why did it take so long for them to finally speak up and take action? The English FA and refereeing officialdom are intentionally blind to the problem because they are prejudiced against Wenger/Arsenal. Maybe one day, one of the karl henry/shawcross type tackles will break a referee’s leg instead for them to start taking action.

  • Ian Trevett

    On the walrus Allardyce, one of the funniest things he has come out with was a few weeks ago when he said that he would win the double every year if he was manager of a top four club.
    If I become Prime Minister I would banish world poverty, halt global warming and stop all wars.
    Okay, I admit I’m being stupid

    But he started it!

  • Wrenny

    Wenger is always proved right in the end.

    He was ridiculed when he claimed Arsenal could go a season unbeaten, and then the Invincibles happened.

    He was criticised for being outspoken on ‘financial doping’ and the unsustainable spending of his rivals. Now Liverpool and Man Utd are sitting on the brink, Barcelona are forced to borrow vast amounts just to pay their wages, and the Financial Fair Play regulations have been established.

    He was criticised for not spending enough and sticking with youngsters. We were told every single season that because of this policy Arsenal would drop out of the top 4 and our demise was inevitable. It never happened.

    Now it’s the same with the dangerous tackles. He was a whinger who had to beef up his team of weaklings to cope with the reckless thugs of the league, and as a foreigner he had no right to criticise those honourable British players and managers who mauled his team. Now that public opinion has swayed to Wenger’s viewpoint, the brainless pundits and journos have all jumped on the bandwagon and condemned the players and tackles they previously defended.

  • walter

    I sure hope so Ian, I sure hope so.

  • SgGooner

    a repentant Shawcross is reported as saying ~

    http://www.sport.co.uk/news/Football/44897/Shawcross_defends_under-fire_tacklers.aspx

    i hope what goes around …

  • FinnGooner

    Good article. Only thing is now I’m really worried about Murphy’s safety when he is playing against those teams, He will be targeted. Also has Pulis already been demanding an apology and punishment for Murphy about what he has said (like he did with Wenger)?

  • Arsene Apprentice

    How many of us coach football? How many of us coach football to young kids? How many of us coach football to our sons? When does tackling enter into the picture? And, lastly have you played? And, when you played have you tackled or been tackled? What was that like? Let’s not walk away from the topic because I believe the answer to these questions are important to what is going on in football today.. Maybe I should reconsider my position on the amount of coaches vs. players in England proper. The skill of a proper tackle 99% of the time will have the proper outcome. And, when it doesn’t as Danny Murphy explains (In proper context) will result in rewarding of this ill timed fast paced bad tackling. So for me I have had more games played than I can remember. I have hurt few and have gotten the proper result nearly 100% because I have been trained that way. And, when I did not first I was so sorry for the injury I incurred and then I was punished for being reckless. Today, I believe what has gone wrong is first players don’t know what they are doing in the skill of a tackle, second when a tackle is done it is done with intent other than dis-possesing, and lastly players are not chastized for bad tackles.

  • Paul C.

    Arsene Apprentice – top post.

    I also think we do a disservice when we simply try to brush off bad tackling as “part of the game”. Bad tackling is not part of the game. If proper technique is taught at a young age and proper intention emphasized by coaches then there should be very little of poor tackles being made. Not only is proper technique breaking down on many occassions, but more frighteningly proper intention is now lacking as well.

  • Wrenny

    It’s not just about how to tackle, but WHEN. More and more players are making challenges when they must know full well they won’t be getting the ball. That’s what is most disturbing, when a situation is obviously not ’50:50′, but a player decides to slide in hard anyway knowing there’s no chance of winning the ball from it.

    That kind of terrible judgement must come from managers who, like Danny Murphy’s pointed, pump up their players and send them out as if they’re going to war and must win at all costs. That attitude is leads players to make those poor decisions and make tackles they shouldn’t be making.

  • Fem Dee

    Good piece Tony and good comments all round.

    However, it occurred to me that there would have been no issue at all if the refs do their work or are the footballing rules different between Europe and EPL?

  • durban_gun

    how many promising english players have had thier careers ended because of such violence ?? how much better it would be if more ball playing teams from the championship replaced the thugs of the premiership ?? i would luv to see leeds crystal palace and cardiff in the premiership instead of wolves R.C stoke R.C blackburn R.C

  • Finsbury

    Great posts on this topic on 7am Kick Off as well.
    It seems the LMA are looking after their members’ interests, and not the players. Tim utterly destroys the particilar line of cr*p that is more then just a little annoying:

    ‘He was too quick for me.
    Where’s my mummy?
    Dumma!
    I need my dumma!’

    http://www.7amkickoff.com/2010/lma-trots-out-the-horribly-wrong-speed-of-the-game-defense-of-leg-breakers/#comments