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Has everyone forgotten how to tackle?

badtackle.jpgIn the least shocking news of the week, Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel picked up yet another red card for a shockingly bad tackle. This time it was a sliding tackle and though the challenge was one-footed, Mikel came in with his studs up (and nowhere near the ball) on Everton’s Phil Neville.

This was the fourth red card Mikel has received in about a season and a half of being a Chelsea player. Of course Avram Grant took his player’s side “I will not speak of the red card,” Grant spoke. “But if it was a red card, many players who were given yellow cards should have had a red card too. I will not speak about it. I don’t say that I have nothing to say about it. I have a lot of things to say about it.”

Grant should not be defending a player with a history of poor tackles. Instead, he should be working with him on the training ground or sending him down to the reserves for further work. I hate to single him out as he is far from being the only player to be guilty of these dangerous tackles but timing is everything in life, and in tackling too.

There is no question that Mikel is a phenomenal athlete and is a fine passer of the ball but his other skills are questionable. He does not seem to have a grasp of the fundamentals of tackling and marking (e.g. his recent hacking of Peter Crouch) or he has been trained using videos from the 70s when this sort of thing was tolerated and encouraged. In this era, where the players are supposed to be protected from dangerous tackles, he could be viewed as a liability to his team.

Steve Sidwell, brought on soon after Mikel’s dismissal, also deserves some scorn for what the Independent described as “an attempt at arthroscopic surgery” on Lee Carsley’s knee.

What do you think? Are the rules strict enough? Too harsh? To me want to see more of these bone-crunching tackles?

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  1. TheScout

    January 11, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Try watching the tackle again. Neville certainly did not make a meal out of it.

  2. Michael

    January 10, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Officials do get calls wrong; I would know, I’m a certified referee myself and have played soccer at a high enough level to see it in action.

    This is a case of that. Look, the Everton player made a meal of it and there wasn’t even much contact. Mikel came in from the front and with only one foot. This wasn’t a scissors tackle or anything else that dangerous, it was the same as a lot of tackles I’ve seen that only get yellow cards.

    The only, and I repeat, only reasons Mikel got sent off was because of his reputation and because referees have been instructed to crack down and take a no-tolerance policy towards these challenges, when they should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

  3. The Scout

    January 10, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Let’s clear up one misconception. It’s not just two-footed tackles that need to be punished. There are also the scissors tackling or the clumsy one-footed studs-up or the raking of the studs down the shin, etc, etc which are just as dangerous. It seems they are being cracked down on because players do need a certain amount of protection from thuggery and recklessness.

    My estimation is that Mikel was sent off not just because his studs were showing but also because his challenge was high and it did not appear to be a “reasonable” attempt at winning the ball. Reputation certainly could have played a part but quite simply the lad does not know how to tackle in accordance with the rules of the game. As a player you have to know that when you go to ground and attempt a slide tackle that there is an element of timing that you have to get spot on or you run the risk of committing a foul.

    The official has the discretion to deem an action like Mikel’s as dangerous play, which it was. Neville could easily have had his ankle broken had he not reacted as quickly as he did. The FIFA laws of the game state:

    A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off and shown the red
    card if he commits any of the following seven offences:
    1. is guilty of serious foul play
    2. is guilty of violent conduct
    3. spits at an opponent or any other person
    4. denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity
    by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a
    goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
    5. denies an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving
    towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick
    or a penalty kick
    6. uses offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
    7. receives a second caution in the same match

    A further clarification states that: “A tackle, which endangers the safety of an opponent, must be sanctioned as serious foul play.”

    Do officials get calls wrong? Certainly. There were two calls in the FA Cup that I can think of (Ispwich and Burnley players being sent off ) that replays showed were “incorrect” calls. As it stands currently, officials are tasked with making split second judgements without the benefit of replays. Introducing video replays is debatable because I’ve seen tackles that looked worse (as well as less offensive) when they were slowed down or shown from a different angle in a replay.

  4. Pingback: Daily Dose 01.10.08 - World Cup Blog - African Cup of Nations 2008

  5. Darin

    January 10, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Not to mention the red card against the Ipswich player in the FA Cup that should have been yellow at most…

  6. Michael

    January 9, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    My thoughts exactly, wanderer_abroad.

  7. wanderer_abroad

    January 9, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Call me bias but I think one of the people to blame for the sudden harshness of referees is Sir Alex Ferguson. For years he has been moaning to referees about such tackles – obviously only for self-interest – and is always questioning the referees decision in other matches. I think its down to him and other managers that the referees have been told to enforce the rule book to the extact letter of the law instead of using common sense when dealing with matters like this. The Mikel red card was never a sending off offence even though it was a silly challenge.

  8. Michael

    January 9, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    To be fair, that shouldn’t have been a red card for Mikel. Yes, his studs were up, but it was one-footed and from the front. The red card was a case of a player who has a bad reputation and referees instructed to take a zero-tolerance policy on tackles like that, when in reality it should be taken case-by-case and not just blanket red cards.

  9. Ginto

    January 9, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    What is strange is that I was watching some old FA Cup replays on FSC and really enjoyed seeing some vintage English football. The thing that I noticed, however, was that I think the tackles were generally horrific. The fact that most of the tackles I saw weren’t even punished with a foul (much less a booking), leads me to think tackling in general must be very, very difficult.

    I’ve only just started playing football, at an -ahem- advanced age, and slide tackling is not allowed at all so I don’t know how difficult a skill it really is. I would think though that if you can make a good cross-field pass and have basic football skills, you should be able to make a clean tackle. My limited viewing of H.S. football has shown me that the boys (and girls) in High School can normally tackle pretty well without going in either two-footed or with their studs up.

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