Now that I have seen some of the photographs and replays of the utterly disgraceful assault on Eduardo yesterday, I have had some more thoughts on the incident and the fallout, and I have to say that the word that comes to mind when I think about what happened yesterday is depressing.
I am depressed that the football community has become so obsessed with condemning diving, petulance and dissent that over the top, studs-up, career-threatening tackles have been reclassified as “clumsy” or “mistimed”. How can this have happened?
When I watched the footage of the tackle on Match Of The Day, I felt physically sick. I cannot begin to imagine how it must feel to have that happen to you, whether football is your profession or your hobby. When injuries like this have occurred in the past, to David Busst for example, everyone involved in football has rallied around and agreed that the perpetrator must be punished and a huge amount of sympathy has been given to the victim. Quite rightly. In this case, everyone in the football media seems to be falling over themselves to find ways to excuse Taylor’s behaviour and to criticise Arsenal players and staff for reacting emotionally to the incident.
Alan Hansen’s comments about William Gallas’ reaction at the end of the game beggar belief. Here is a man who has captained his side to a 5 point lead at the top of the table having lost the best player in the world the previous summer, who has just witnessed his team lose 2 vital points in the title race in the last minute of injury time in a game where one of his team mates may well have had his young career ended by a tackle from the team that has just equalised. Can anyone assure me that, in the same circumstances, they wouldn’t react in the same way? It doesn’t matter that he is a professional – he is a human being.
Jonathan Pearce mentioned that he’d never seen professional football players looking so distraught in his commentary on the match which may go some way to explaining how Gallas felt at the end of the game. However, when my girlfriend (who is not interested in football) saw Martin Taylor’s reaction after the challenge, she said “he doesn’t look bothered at all”. All around him were players looking shocked, putting their hands together in prayer motions and a man with a severely broken leg being given air on a stretcher by medics and Martin Taylor “didn’t look bothered”. This is the man for whom this is “not in his nature” and who “feels distraught” according to his manager, Alex McLeish.
Has football really become so uncaring that it would be too hard for McLeish to stand up and say “yes, it was a bad tackle – I do hope Eduardo pulls through and manages to play again”?