Stoke and Arsenal: the referee’s views

By Walter Broeckx

Some have asked my point of view on the game and I must say it is with much pain in my heart that I will try to analyse the game.

I will try to come to the Ramsey  incident in the last part and hopefully by then I get my thoughts a bit straightened out.

Should Ramsey have been given a penalty?  Yes it was a penalty. As I wrote in my live match comment on the Arsenal Benelux site it was a penalty. The defender got nowhere the ball and brought him down.

The yellow card on Song? This was laughable at the time. They ran next to each other Song had his arm out a bit but it was Delap who was holding Song’s hand. I think he was trying to dry his hands on Song’s sleeves to take a throw. This is the way I saw it when I could laugh about it. It was before the Ramsey incident.

Let’s go further to the foul on Bendtner. It was again a penalty. The Stoke defender just pushed him with his arm in his side so he couldn’t control the ball. Lucky we scored after that our third goal.

The penalty we finally got was a penalty. If a defender stands like that with his arms out stretched and you stop the ball it is always a penalty if the defender stands in the penalty area.

And now the Ramsey incident. It all started long before in fact. The ref did gave some fouls against Stoke players but didn’t get his cards out to tell them: stop this wild tackling. Even a blind man could see that the Stoke players couldn’t do anything about the way Arsenal was passing the ball around and the only thing they did was throw themselves at everything with an Arsenal shirt on.

But to be fair to the Stoke players they only did what the pundits and the press and other media are suggesting time after time.  It has been coming for a while and today it happened.

For years most of the pundits, the press, the media have been applauding teams that try to kick Arsenal off the field. Every defeat we suffered the last years against teams like Stoke, Birmingham and other Blackburn and Bolton’s was a defeat coming from “let’s kick them off the field”.

The pundits on MOTD never mention it or even worse they praise it and say look at it and this is the way to kick Arsenal off the field and to beat them. And we have had our casualties during the past seasons. Diaby lost a season when he was just starting his Arsenal career.

We all remember Eduardo being kicked to pieces in Birmingham. And did the pundits and the media learned their lesson? NO. They just went further applauding the “kick them off the field” tactics we have seen so many times.

And now Ramsey. The next victim from the kick them off the field boys. As I have been the victim of a similar situation which has ended my career in football I must say that I really feel sick when such a thing happens on the field and it is always hard for me to watch it again. On days like this I can feel the pain Aaron has to go through again in my leg.

Even now I feel a gnawing pain in my leg where it was broken. And it brings tears to my eyes. I was 20 when it happened so I know what it’s like. Sorry to get my personal feelings getting the upper hand on this for a moment but it really is hard for me.

So I come to the tackle. This is the thing that you get when you have a team of football players and a team of kickers. In my opinion it was a late tackle and reckless tackle. I don’t think he intend to break his leg but he was late as he was trying to kick as hard as he could, ball or leg, he only tried to kick as hard as he could. Unfortunately Ramsey was faster than Shawcross and therefore the Stoke player hit him full on the leg.  It was violent, it was way too hard. It was a straight red card. A violent attack on a player is always a red card and this was one.

I rather would not blame Shawcross for this alone. NO, it is the WHOLE PRESS, THE WHOLE MEDIA and THE WHOLE PUNDITS  and THE REFS that should stand up for once and for all and stop this kick them off the field thing.


Earlier in the season I wrote even somewhere on the internet, could be on the Untold site but I don’t know for the moment,  that I was waiting in fear for such a thing to happen to us once again. Unfortunately it did again today.

It happened because the media, the refs and the FA knew it could and would happen and they all did nothing. They are all guilty as hell. Don’t they dare to say :  “Wir haben es nicht gewusst”.

Which literally translated into English is: “ We did not know it”. You did know it would happen again and you did nothing to prevent it. Enough is enough. This has got to stop.



It seems inappropriate to run the usual rumours section at such a time as this, and indeed if I were trying to make up a rumour I could never have come up with anything like the fact that Shawcross walked off the pitch and was immediately given a call-up to the England squad.  Or the fact that in today’s Sunday Mirror Ashley Cole says he may quit football after the collapse of his marriage.

Tony Attwood immediately after the end of the Stoke game

Almunia: are we being unfair. By ex-keeper now referee, Walter Broeckx
“Making the Arsenal” – the novel.  Final few copies of the first edition (about 40) available from and from the publishers direct.
Our new superstarWellington Silva
The days when football journalists could write, entertain and make us laugh (a true newspaper report about Arsenal in the 1930s)

EPL owes more money than the rest of Euro football combined.

Predictions for the rest of the season: the start of the new golden era.

Why did Arsenal move to Highbury, and not somewhere else?

46 Replies to “Stoke and Arsenal: the referee’s views”

  1. Walter – It’s frightening how poor the standard of refereeing is in the PL. The crazy thing is the same media who praise the method’s employed against Arsenal then scratch their heads when teams outside the big 4 get turned over by all and sundry in the UEFA cup and can’t understand why smaller nations are far superior technically to England . Until we stop this mindset that it is acceptable to play in this way and stop the excuse of he was just to quick for him we will not see the quality of football or players improve.

    We also need ref’s to stop worrying about providing a “good contest”, if Stoke end up with 4 or 5 players being sent off they will either adapt and evolve or dissapear. Stoke fans might not like it but I couldn’t give toss what Stoke, Bolton or Blackburn fans want ot like.

  2. I feel that vermin Walton will get away this time too…. the heat right now is on Shawcross (rightly so!) and what with being English and all he’ll get away and so will Walton (no offense English gooners).. I think Arsenal has to show its might and clout in the EPL to do something bout this.. how does manu always get their way? the board has to intervene.. it may sound ridiculous but all ideas when stated for the first time are.. we must move to prosecute Shawcross and screw the puny potters out of their eyeballs and win compensation.. I dunno if my judgment is right or just clouded by raw emotion.. pls feel free to comment on it..

  3. I was impressed with the team’s response against the physical committed game of Stoke, and as well the maturity after the horrible tackle. Because that is in fact what it was, no tears or words can change that, it was a reckless challenge. I do think Shawcross should be forgiven though.

    But the fact is that the tackle came after the referee laid the bar very high and strangely inconsistent, as for the silly booking of Song. With the referee allowing such a physical game, then heads can easily be heated; as with Shawcross. I think a lot of people, who get heated in the moment and act violently, will regret afterwards. But first of all it is the referee’s responsibility to make sure the game does not get that far; that is why there is free kicks, warnings and sending off

  4. Marc, personally I enjoy a committed hard game as well as the technical game, and I think this side is able to present both now. I also think the referee contributed to a flowing committed game, but I think he has to take a lot of the blame since he put the bar too high…leading to heated heads, and it is his job to make sure it does not go over that limit.

    That said, Arsenal were really fighting out there, like Muhammad Ali; floating like a butterfly, sting like a bee; that is where I see this side heading; beautiful technical creativity combined with mental strength and ability to play a committed, focused game with the ability to utilize a more physical side. This side is very close to becoming a strong side in the history of Arsenal,very close

  5. He did not try to smash his leg in two,he did however intend to hurt him.As they do “get in there faces”.”get about them”,manslaughter rather than murder thats ok ,is it? Now ,what about this clown B52,not fit to wear an Arsenal shirt that boy.never be good enough,hes 21 already for goodness sake.Ofcourse if Dogbreath had beaten 3 defenders .whilst backing off and directed a header in form that range it would be because he is world class.a real game winning centre forward,a true heroic powerhouse.Had Stevie G bean pushed of the ball it would have been a penalty,but rubbish Bentner failed to impress the Ref. Then his pathetic attempt to chip a ball in behind was rewarded by a spot kick. And what about him turning up on the flanks and the defence ,interchanging with other players.who does he think he is ? Thats a job for a world class player like Wayne Rooney . Heres a thought.why cand we buy Vila,Rooney,Kaka,Torres,Gerrard,Torres,Alves? We would win the league by 15 points.Give them all 200K a week on 5 year deals.(here is the cleaver part)Go into administration loose 9 points ,we still win it,and now we are the same as all the other clubs ,skint.That clown Wenger would leave.the board would go as well .Everthing would be just as our good friends at “Le Grove”would have it.problens solved,simples

  6. Some rubbish being talked about this.

    I’m not mad on Stoke either…..cold ground, no standing, dubious tactics, dodgy fans, dodgy policing, long trek to station…..but they deliberately go out to crock Ramsey?
    Are you sure?

    Frankly, the awful Premiership has reaped what it has sown.
    How can a jobbing Division 2 side (Hull, Wolves, Burnley, Stoke etc.), that generate the same amount of money in a year that the Bore Four and Man. City reap in a week, possibly compete?

    If they try to ‘out-football’ Arsenal or Man. U. they get a tonking.
    Of course clubs like that are going to use more unsubtle methods.
    Not a pleasant thought but what do you expect them to do?

  7. Walter, the ref was a complete a**hole. He could have had a stoke jersey on. The only reason why he gave the red card was because if he hadn’t then it would have resulted in a big havoc 2day. And also, all his other actions would come to light.

    Sejbob, we all love to see a hard game but there’s a limit. The limit gets usually crossed when playing against the Arsenal.

  8. Two years ago to the week we drew a match we should have won and went on to miss out on the Premiership title.

    Yesterday, we won.

    Arsenal, could well be the most mentally-strong side in this season’s title race. And if determination is the deciding factor, then our wait for a trophy, while hardly forgone, might at last be at an end.

  9. @Sean,
    Same ole excuse right! And, how poor are ole Stoke? That boy you are defending just got a call up to the National side. He makes 2x as much as me or you.

    In my house we know what right and wrong is… I am not equipped financially to compete with most people in society! But, it is forbidden in my house to steal from others who have money… No excuses here. I see how you are..

    Seriously, you and the chip on your shoulder need to check back in when this is all over… At least give Arsenal supporters the time to know wether or not the boy Aaron will be out of harm’s way,, You do know he is at risk for complications due to the slaughter he was given?

  10. @ Sean

    As a courtesy to the writer of the blog and to other commenters, you should actually read and try to understand what has been written.
    Walter said:
    In my opinion it was a late tackle and reckless tackle. I don’t think he intend to break his leg but he was late as he was trying to kick as hard as he could, ball or leg, he only tried to kick as hard as he could. Unfortunately Ramsey was faster than Shawcross and therefore the Stoke player hit him full on the leg.

    No-one has claimed that Shawcross deliberately set out to crock Ramsey. He didn’t intend to do him serious injury. He intended to tackle in the way that he did, that is the only “intent” which is relevant. What he did was dangerous, that is why it was a reckless tackle and he was sent off.

    As to how lower sides can compete, they could buy and train better footballers than the ones they have. They could spend their money on training instead of big wages. They could take youngsters or from better clubs on loan to raise the standard of their squads. Just a few ideas there, all of which are better than simply resorting to cheating or dangerous play.

  11. To all;

    If anyone sees or hears about the boy Aaron Ramsay’s latest injury report let’s post it…

    I am surprised no news yet.

  12. How can anyone not make the connexion between Arsenal’s reputation for “not being up for a fight” or being susceptible to a “kicking off the park” and the number of injuries we pick up let alone three broken legs in four years.

    Referees continually fail to properly penalize systematic fouling against Arsenal full in the knowledge that it’s taking place.

    Over the next few days there’ll be a variety of reasons Shawcross wasn’t to blame and that “he’s a nice boy … really he is … just ask his Gran”.

    Well, no, Granny Shawcross, little Ryan isn’t a nice boy, he’s a serial fouler, an accumulator of yellow cards, and an incompetent tackler that, while only following orders, doesn’t mind carrying them out.

    If AW can collect enough statistical data to support it, he should build a case and (at least) threaten to take this to court. It doesn’t matter if it’s unlikely to succeed … the threat of litigation should be enough to level the playing field and protect the battered aspirations of Arsenal’s “beautiful game”.

  13. So lets wait and see who else gets injured before the season,s end and hear the nauseating hypocrisy from Liverpoool,Manchester ,the Midlands ,London and elsewhere?

  14. It’s because the pundits & media have been so very accepting of the ‘physical’ (kick ’em off the park) approach that they are so
    defensive towards those that do the kicking when an incident like this occurs.

  15. Did we learn something from the same previous incidents ?

    The season it didn`t start today to say referees and the almighty FA has to do something about it.
    We all live in the real world and we can see starting from FA the media and pundits they are happy Arsenal players in particular to be roughed up and kicked all over the park.That is the fact and we fail in my opinion to deal with it.

    1-)The chairman or director are they just sitting counting the money they earn or they have to pressurize the FA for not placing enough protection to the players.Not that i heard .

    2-)Teams like Stoke and Birmingham as long they get it away with with a ridiculous three match ban for a player after breaking the leg and the life of a talented player they will continue to do it for ever.This is not a new phenomenon.We been three times at the receiving end.
    Question is what did we learn ?what measures has been taken from our side to counter this tragedy ?Are we going to sit and watch our boys butchered season after season ?

    In my honest opinion i do not believe for one minute that any single measure is taken.
    Reading opinions prior to the match on differnt arsenal forums our fans opinion was not confident.At glance one will say Arsenal fans should be 100% sure and confident they are going to win it.But that was not the case.To me WENGER as much as i respect him in this issue i am not happy at all.The least i can demand from him is as long we are 100% sure we are not going any kind of protection from the referee it is to IDENTIFY SPECIFIC PERSONALITY ON SPECIFIC TEAMS TO INVITE THEM TO THEYR USUAL SO CALLED COMMITMENT AND HIT THEM WHEN AND WHERE IT HURTS.For me this is the way to counter this horryble incidents.

    Managers on premierleague has to deliver to stay in the premiership and they cannot match high level technically due to the huge differnces on finances.Theyr only way to stay up is to be overphisical nad over commited.Therfore to blame and single out SHAWCROSS is not a solution are there are surely many to take his place.The job is to identify early those thugs (yes because it has nothing to do with football)and eliminate them early.
    The guy of Birmingham that sidelined Walcot if one could just see what he has done yesterday when playing against Wigan will give us i believe a clear picture what this thugs theyr are up.
    Upto now we do not learn anything .

  16. Arsene ONLY condemned the tackle but the moronic media told Pulis that Arsene had condemned his player,not supprised!
    Totally agree Marc,thats why england with it’s so called golden generation struggle in big tournaments against technical sides.
    I feel your pain Walter,had my cartilage torn in a 5-ASIDE game by some P***k doing a sliding tackle,where such tackles are banned.Wont be supprised to hear that the ref did nothing.

  17. Well the footballing clubs like Ipswich, Norwich, QPR, Luton, Palace have been brushed aside for the Stokes of the world.
    Just this morning a QPR 15-year old has been ‘bought’ by one of the Bore Four (Liverpool).
    How can a club like that compete as they might have done 25 years ago if this happens?

    You’ve got exactly the league you wanted….and it includes Stoke I’m afraid.

  18. i have to agree with u, there must be some harsh penalty not just 3 match ban, so that this sort of things don’t happen again..

  19. Alex I agree partially…But that link I supplied condems Shawcross completely. His third horrid tackle in 2 years. Shawcross then is highlighted in the Sun say” I’m no hatchet man” This past Dec. It is just to unreal.

    Anyone who defends Stoke, Pulis, or Shawcross need to read this… If I would have seen this link yesterday I would be picketing in Stoke City today.

    I am not surprised about Wenger and claims of no coincidence.

    I had no idea about Shawcross being the ring leader.

  20. @Sean,

    You are becoming obsolete… But, hysterical at the same time. Any idea of the money at QPR? This site is fantastic at the financial side of club organizations. You should read the posts every now and then.

    All’s you do is post your rhetoric “bore 4

  21. Walter, thank you for your lucid and heartfelt article. I completely agree, as I’m sure all Arsenal fans would (even our good “friends” over on the other, anti-Wenger blogs).

    The one thing “positive” I see is that this is uniting the team an the fan base for the title run. We gotta believe!

    (@Sean — I respect your opinions, and in many ways I agree with you about the inequalities in the league. But to legitimate dirty tactics from teams like Stoke, especially after what happened last night, is appalling. I don’t care if it’s the PL, League One, or sunday league. Reckless tackles like the one against Ramsey should never happen.)

  22. I wrote in my comment yesterday that Shawcross is not a first offender. He did it to Jeffers in 2007; to Adebayor last season; and now to Ramsey, who is almost 300% better than him. Now, this is the player my country wants to take to the world cup. Let’s just ensure that we carry along a very big bag to contain all of the yellow and red cards that we will inevtably collect.

    What a sad bunch of pathetic people are we, not only to sanction thuggery in the guise of football; but to also idolise and appoint mediocres to run (FA), pundit, comment on, and write about our football? What retarded people are we to teach our kids and younsters that it is okay to exercise thuggery in the guise of committed football?

    If Arsenal does not fight for compensation in the law courts, the FA will not act. That is a fact.

  23. LRV,
    Sorry I was so focused on my task of e-mailing organizations about my outrage I did not see that! Clockenders actually puts it together as you said quite nicely by laying out pieces of news articles…
    Out rageous…

    I have a much different perspective now! I wonder if Walter does? Walter?
    (Copy/Paste my reponse to Clockenders)
    I have a different view…

    First, I was outraged beyond belief yesterday after the incident.

    Then, I calmed down after reading about how sorry Stoke, Pulis, and Shawcross.

    Then, I succombed to theShawcross as a young bloke who had no reason to want to hurt anyone.

    Now I realize he scammed me. I read about his brief history over the past two years.

    Don’t get me wrong…. I can forgive and forget… But, not here.

    I have played football my whole life. And, this tackle was not accidental! He is clearly frustrated that he lossed control of the ball. So, as to last ditch make sure no Arsenal player gets it he throws out a walloping tackle… No problem if it were just a disruptive sort of a flick or knock… But, this was a snap irrational “I will show anyone who dares” challenge that was a milli-second of pre-meditation. Granted, If he knew what the result were ahead of time followed by the torment Ramsay has to face over the next couple of years he wouldn’t have gone through with it…But, nonetheless he did it…He did it exactly the way I said it…And, he should be banned indefinately.

  24. Too bad Sam Wallace is an asshole in the above video. “Ramsey was simply too quick for Shawcross…” Fuck you.

  25. i am heavy on villa this afternoon aswell

    utd without rooney are mid table quality.

    the omens are good aswell… all this newton heath green and gold stuff from the fans…

    well, the actual team wore a green and gold kit against villa, at wembley in the 94 final and lost.

    3-1 villa again? 🙂

  26. Good article Walter. You lay the blame at the right places – the FA, the refs, the pundits and the general approach to football in this country.
    Arsenal deserve to get kicked because they play a skilful quick passing game.
    Ricardo Fuller was promising that they would kick us off the park before the cup tie. Does anyone believe that Pulis didn’t send them out fired up to (try to) intimidate us? The week before Eboue was taken out by Sunderland. Earlier in the season Walcott was kicked out of the game by Birmingham. Bolton spend both games trying kick Fabregas.
    Fabregas was spot on in his post-match interview, but he also worried me. He spoke emotionally about three players being badly injured in five years. He must be thinking – “When will it by my turn?”
    Any club that doesn’t kick us gets criticised for being naive. Until something is done, we are just waiting for our next crushed leg. And once again everyone will line-up to say what a lovely bloke the aggressor is. The foulers seem to get more sympathy. Didn’t mean to hurt an opponent? Well why fly in like a lunatic then?
    Great spirit from the team though. All gooners should really get behind the team now, whatever your views are on the club’s transfer policy. It is time to stand together against the cloggers and foulers. Shout your heads off if you are going to the Burnley game.
    And, of course, best wishes to Aaron. A great talent kicked out of the game – but hopefully not for too long. Get well soon

  27. I will be shouting my head off during the Burnley game. I must say that the pleasure of coming over has been put a level down for the moment. But come friday I will be as restless as a 6 year old before his first day at school.

  28. Hartwick I wrote this article yesterday evening when digesting the game.
    This morning after a short night rest I have written another article on this and send it to Tony. I must say I am still very upset by it all.

    Instead of celebrating the fact we have come back to 3 points to the leaders it all seems so irrelevant for the moment.

    But I must say the reaction of the players on the pitch after scoring and after the game was great to see.
    The had overwon the evile empire and the delight was very very big. Our black beast has been overwon and even after such a disastrous game with the early goal on a throw once again, the horror with Aaron and still we have beaten them. You could see on the faces of the players and on Cesc his face that this victory meant a lot to them and this has brought extra belief in the team that they even can win when all and everything goes against them at the most unpleasant ground in the league.
    All this should be setting us on fire and feeling happy, but the fact that Aaron will not be there to play an important part in it takes so much pleasure away.

  29. Hartwick
    1. The huge finances of the owners of QPR have ‘not’ been made available to improve the club.
    2. QPR is just an example of a ‘footballing’ club that has its players poached by the Premiership before they’ve made a first team appearance…..I could have said Crystal Palace or Southampton or Ipswich.

    You’ve got Stoke because the Premiership poaches the best youths from such clubs and makes the likes of Stoke stronger.

    I know it’s hard but do understand, don’t you?

    You’ve got the league you deserve because it’s Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool etc. who are poaching these players.

  30. On Eurosport there are plenty of comments saying that Ramsey had already broken his leg before Shawcross made contact.

  31. Get in their faces,hit Fabragas,they dont like it up them,we cannot play football against them,stop them playing.Can you imagine Pullis and his sidekick Peter Reid saying all these and more to their players before the match!
    It was interesting on the Sky TV football Supplement today,that Neil Curtis of the Sun said”their are Mangers that gang up on Wenger,and like to snipe at any comments he makes”.
    Most of the Managers he gets on with are foreign,Zola,Benitiz,funny that.When we get knocked out of the World Cup,you know what will be said by all the Media.”We are not good enough Technically”,surprise,surprise.The only reason some of our English players have improved is because of the foreign influence.
    I will leave you with this.Belliti of Chelsea will get a 3 match ban,and had apenalty awarded against his team,Shawcross less,just a ban!

  32. this tackle and the surrounding issues stil bring a tear to my eye and wil probably do so for some time. on th positive side tho as i feel that this negativity should be channelled differently if i was in the squad or fab before every match the dressing room would resemble a braveheart scene. i believe most things happen for a reason, and maybe, just maybe this needed to happen to put that extra fire in the team to really believe. i thought we had a good chance of winning summit before the tackle but now… its hard to explain but the feeling is different. i feel like were gonna be unstoppable from now on. i was nearly right with the scoreline yday. and it should have been 4-1! eduardo! bendtner! so we’ll see. get well soon rambo,

  33. Some pertinent questions:
    Will the press react the same way if Rooney, Gerrard or Lampard had their leg broken by a marginal player like Shawcross?
    Why has England done not particularly well in continental and world cup? Could it be the “kick them off the field” system?
    Has anyone ever heard players in Italy or Brazil talk like Fuller? It equals placing a bounty on a an athlete.
    The incident on Ramsey made me sick. And I cant read Shawcross’ mind to know if he intended to hurt Ramsey or not.

  34. Walter,

    Just so you know: You are good peeps (people). I was not criticizing at all… In fact I was thinking the same last night as you… But, then I saw the post that I linked and Hawke linked and I feel conned. I feel conned by that Softcroft…. He is a rat… He had it in his head he was going to make a big tackle and he did… So he needs to be punished!

  35. just what is the point of playing the game buy the rules when you get refs like that tit in charge of the stoke game, and an equaly useless tit in charge of the carling cup,unless some thing is done to esure that the game is refed fairly and honestly we will watch games that are so boring an predictable that the final result should be printed in the match day program, refs should be interviewed after the game to be accountable for their decisions and if they are proven to have made howlers by video re runs they should dbe down graded or re trained with the table so tight ,if Arsenal got only half the decisions that we should have we would be top of the table

  36. Shawcross is a cheat. How many chances is this guy going to get to injure our players? I shouldn’t wish this on anybody, but if he is going to continue to play recklessly, I hope he has a very, very short career.

    The “I didn’t mean it” or “I was stupid” defense DOES NOT WORK. Stupid people are a danger to all.

    Thanks, Stringfellow Hawke. That needs to be posted everywhere. Maybe, just maybe, somebody in the mainstream media will pick up on it.

  37. Walter,true about the celebration. You can see how they took out the tension with Vermaelen and Campbell standing over the railing screaming and repeatedly boxing out in the air…the reaction was completely different than the Eduardo incident at Birmingham.

    You could see the leadership and how the tensions came out…especially Campbell and so many players stepping up the leadership and leading the way together. In particular Wengers shared captaincy model blossomed there in my opinion. That in no way criticizing Gallas like some other bloggers of a different opinion have, he has grown leaps as a persona and player like others. First of all his captaincy was a product of a collective collapse back then, now it was shared leadership…they are now a strong team

  38. A challenge that is mistimed in football is normal, but one when mistimed breaks both bones in a mans leg is reckless by definition. If this challenge was normal- a little bit mistimed as some many pundits have claimed- the EPL would be too dangerous to play in- players would need protective suits to ensure their health and safety.

    This incident has highlighted for me that many English media pundits (mainly ex EPL players) do not know where the boundary lies between acceptable aggression and reckless dangerous and violent play in football.

    There are far too many apologists for violent play in the English game. The fact that the English media are so dominated by former players and managers is disturbing- most of these people extoll the values of greed, winning at all costs and aggression that got them where they did. Most have experienced limited education- and this contrasts with many European countries- with a far higher percentage of graduates in German and French football for example.
    This culture of aggression- far from being the defining characteristic of English football- is now its greatest weakness.
    The EPL is a great league- it would be better still if the skill level increased and players were taught how to tackle without losing control as Shawcross did on Saturday.

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