Leg Breaks; Dirty or Mistimed?

I’m going to begin this blog piece by sending out my best wishes to Chung-Yong Lee of Bolton Wanderers FC, on 30/07/2011 he suffered a double-leg break (tib and fib, not both legs) in a pre-season friendly vs non-league Newport County, after a reckless tackle by Tom Miller. Lee will be out for around 9 months, but as many Arsenal fans know, with the case of Eduardo, in some examples the individuals may struggle to find form again.

So here we go;  Tackles. Are footballers under-protected or are safety conscious viewers attempting to remove physicality from the beautiful game?

I must add, and this is a key point from myself. I do have an element of hypocrisy in this blog post, given I’m a proud Rangers AND Arsenal supporter, it would seem ludicrous that I support crunching tackles in Old Firm encounters, yet slate wild attempts to injure Arsenal players, perhaps there’s no continuity in football. I’ll try to maintain an element of neutrality, but I’m not promising anything.

Scenario; ‘a player is coming towards you with the ball, he’s quicker than you, he’s technically superior to you, and you’re a CB who’s found himself out of position beyond the half-way line, you swing a boot in a scythe-like motion, completely missing the ball and leaving your young opponent lying on a heap in the floor, with his leg and ankle shattered.’ Ouch. If your mind is struggling to invisage this, check the inbedded video, below. The victim of this ‘tackle’ is sidelined for the next 9 months, in some cases – longer. The attacker serves a 3 match ban and then is available for the remainder of the campaign. How does this sit with your moral  conscience Mr/Mrs.Reader?

Okay, that’s my dig at Ryan Shawcross out the way.

In my opinion, cases like this should see the player who breaks his leg, be suspended for the time it takes the victim to recover. So; 9 months.

It seems harsh, but is there any other way to stomp it out?  – excuse the pun.

Let’s dive deeper; my only issue with my initial punishment is that where do you confuse recklessness with lack of skill. Many have argued that Shawcross’s attempt was a 50:50 and that to alter the rules, thus removing the physical edge, would turn the game into a non-contact sport? Or, in this case, alter the rules to suit Arsenal’s style of play? I think it’s fairly common knowledge for English Premier League supporters that; “To beat Arsenal, you kick them off the park”, – except Manchester United, who just absorb and counter – but kicking them off the park can lead to injuries. And with Diaby/Eduardo and Ramsey all suffering leg-breaks in the last 7 years many Gunners’ fans are beginning to worry at the tactic’s instructed which may lead to this. – Let me back up this point with a good example;

…You all remember being 14/15 years old, you’re playing for your local or school football team and the coach tells you; “First tackle you make, make it a hard one! Make sure they know they’re in a game!”. Well, I happen to think that’s very similar instructions to what some <8th place sides get when they face Arsenal. Of course I’m not suggesting they’re encouraged to attempt to injure, but surely if you’re encouraging hard, crunching tackles, then injuries to your opponents are a potential by-product.

Holden and Evans contest a ’50:50′

Further more to this point, since the take-over of Owen Coyle at Bolton Wanderers, many bloggers and media alike have noted the style of play exhibited at the Reebok, and have commented on their new-found notions of passing, moving and playing a better game. Their style of play has become a far cry greater than the Allardyce days and I believe Europa League is not outwith their abilities should they secure a few more signings. So, and I think you know where I’m going with this, since Christmas, Bolton have had 2 leg breaks, the fantastic and highly rated Stuart Holden, and now Chung-Yong  Lee. Is this a coincidence?  Perhaps not.

Though I do find the irony in Trotters fans tweeting in out-cry at the same reckless tackles they were happy to cheer on during Allardyce’s tenure.

There currently is a panel, set up by the FA, to look at red card incidents and decide on if these are worthy of an extension to the 3 match ban imposed automatically. – Most notably in the case of Ben Thatcher vs Pedro Mendes. However, this is the same panel who happened to deem Wayne Rooney’s elbow on James McCarthy as okay.

Which brings me nicely on to the topic of this blog entry’s title. How do you distinguish between dirty and mistimed?  

Nolan challenges Victor Anichibe of Everton, leaving the Toffee’s man out for months.

The fact of the matter is, it’s difficult to. Every coach and team-mate will claim “he’s not that type of player”, and I’m sure he’s not malicious at all off the field, in fact… I’ve been told Mike Tyson is one of the nicest people I could ever meet, still doesn’t alter his sporting personality. Dirty tackles are an everyday occurrence, so I would say that the only way to distinguish between tackles and punishments is the severity of the out-come caused, and a harsher view upon this by the governing panels in situ. Cause at the end of the day, the intent behind this (Wayne Rooney vs Portsmouth) and this (Karacan vs Liverpool) is the exact same, it’s merely the contact, and the effect is what should determine the punishment. Similar to driving a car, if you are speeding; 3 points. If you speed into a residential area and kill someone, slightly more than 3 points. Similar system…..ish.

So I guess the jury is out, this blog piece has been a build up of entirely my own opinions, but it doesn’t necessarily make it right or wrong. I guess this is one of the few times where, in my eyes, the responses I get are just as valuable as the original piece.

Get voting on the poll, give a good overview without needing to read through everyone’s comments!

Follow me on twitter, link below, and if you guys have your own blogs please let me know so I can check them out and hopefully add them to my ‘recommended read’ section!

Over and out.


About the12thman

A twenty-something football fan with two business management degrees. I run @_the12thman because my friends told me I talk about football too much on my personal twitter/facebook. Turned out quite well, 2 years on. View all posts by the12thman

7 responses to “Leg Breaks; Dirty or Mistimed?

  • Glenn

    Suspending the player for the length of the injury seems harsh (especially as complications can happen which might or might not be the fault of the original tackler, e.g. a player coming back in the reserves and getting injured again).

    However, 3 matches is definitely too short a ban for the sort of tackles you’re talking about. Extensions should be considered on a case-by-case basis, so that the Powers That Be can consider a player’s history, and the circumstances surrounding the tackle. So if a serial reckless tackler gets sent off, he might be banned for longer than a player who has never previously injured someone.

    • IanM1871

      Agree with Glenn, think if the ban was the same length of time as the injured players absence, that is too much for various reasons. But like the idea of a six match ban (double the normal three).

      Great challenge by Karacan. Nothing wrong with that! 😉

  • P

    I absolutely categorically disagree with the “length of injury” idea. It is completely illogical and reactionary. It inevitably brings up the scenario of two tackles 1) A perfectly timed, one footed, ball first tackle which breaks an ankle in the follow through 2) a waist high, two footed lunge 3 metres from the ball which results in no injury, a smile and the player carries on. There is absolutely no correlation in foul = injury. Should a shoulder barge result in a 4 month ban because the opposition snaps a hamstring? It cannot be employed in only a few select cases or you get the Rooney- Mccarthy elbow let off happening for big clubs/ players.

    The reactionary, emotional outlook is almost inevitable with these terrible injuries but try to sober up and refrain from Arsene Wenger’s (politically, future- referee orientated) “he should be shot” reactions.

  • Luis Wilkinson

    You become a professional footballer, you train hard and you make it into the 1st team on a decent salary. You are going to get kicked. It’s called football for a reason, you use your feet. As reckless as a tackle may be, if the intent was simply to win the ball (innocent until proven guilty) then how dare a player be banned for months, they were just doing what they get paid to do. The problem then becomes, once a player is known to be dirty, they will be mistreated by refs, linesmen and panels left right and centre. This may be a ridiculous notion, but in the Rooney tackle above, who are we to suggest he was trying to cause injury, from my point of view he was trying block the pass. Football is a contact sport and should remain so, if you get hurt, you get the treatment needed and then hopefully return to the pitch.

    • Chris Russell

      Luis Wilkinson is clearly a united fan

      There is no way that was only an attempt to block the ball, the lunge, the foot of air between him and the ground, the pace he went into the tackle at, and the other leg, waiting to wrap round kranjcar, if he caught him, kranjcar’s just lucky he wasn’t any slower or wouldve been recovering from that tackle for a fair while.

      I agree the double-time punishment, football will never be rid of bad challenges, and as a supporter, there’s soem times/players in games you love seeing some harsh challenges on, or the famous ‘get stuck in’ statement would go out the window. Personally, i think wayne rooney’s a shocking role model in football and even though he’s been getting ‘better’, can still; run past mccarthy, elbow him, and get away with it because of who he is.

      Also Wrong.

      Most of the time it’s something heated in the match or a build-up of emotions that run to these challenges, which is where the managers should eb able to take their players aside and tell them to calm down, cause we can all see it from the stands. Other time’s it’s the lack of skill, or simply a mis-timed challenge that goes horribly wrong, but mistakes happen in football, and if every palyer was perfect, or didnt ever challenge other players it would die as a sport.

  • James Newman

    I found some of the points interesting, however, proposing to ban somebody for the length another players injury is propostuous, a 50/50 challenge can leave somebody injured the ramsey tackle was horrendous, but it could have easily been ramsey on shawcross, or bill vs ben, 50/50 challenges are part of the game, I definitely would prefer to see tougher sanctions for 2 footed challenges, and retrospective punishment should also come in, Jamie carragher on Nani in the liverpool united game springs to mind, yes carragher was booked, but he left nani with a hole in the top of his leg (and no, I am not a man utd fan, i support a league 2 side who are still in administration). The underlying issue with causing injury is proving intent, but how can one prove intent, in the case of the Rooney vs Mccarthy challenge, it was deemed that there was no way that rooney “intended” to harm mccarthy, 9/10 people(the other one being the man utd fan) could clearly see that this was an intentional elbow, as was thatcher on mendes. There needs to be some form of blanket rule in football for leading elbows, harsher punishments, heavy fines, how can fining somebody on 100,000 pound a week just 5,000 pounds be a “just punishment” I have often been an advocate of “percentage fines” by fining someone fifty percent of their weekly wage it becomes fairer on the clubs who have less money and harsher on the players who have money pouring out of their ears.
    Leading back to the point of “leg breaking tackles”. Obviously nobody wants to see someone break their leg in any game of football, whether that be park football or premier league games, but the fact of the matter is, if there are sliding tackles in the modern game then there is always going to be 2 or 3 premier games a season where this unfortunate event happens.
    I have to say, and I very strongly agree with, is that some managers do say to their players, something along the line of “let them know you are there”, I have had a manager say that to me, so it happens, every manager would deny this, and deny it to the hills, but it happens.
    everyone is entitled to their opinion on leg breaking challenges, and yes, some arsenal fans go on about it more then the stokes and the wolves fans of the world, which, in hindsight, considering that a lot of arsenal players have unfortunately suffered this horrible fate then the fans are going to be talking about it.
    Really interesting blog, going to be following this one from now on!

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