Thursday, 23 September 2010

Spineless Cowards Are Uglifying The Beautiful Game

By Shane Thomas

Here's a scenario for you. Imagine you were hit by a car and ended up with a bad injury, say... a broken leg. Imagine that the driver was driving over the speed limit and had also had a little too much to drink. Imagine that the case not only failed to go to trial, but the parents of the driver justified their child's behaviour with the statement, "There was no malice in the incident. Our kid's not that kind of driver".

So, how would that make you feel? Pretty miffed? Mildly annoyed? Downright furious? That kind of sums up my mood right now because the footballing equivalent of the aforementioned scenario is becoming increasingly prevalent in the game.

Now for the benefits of perspective, I would never try to compare a motor accident to any kind of injury on the football pitch. In the interest of full disclosure, I have a friend who almost died in a collision with an underground train and uses a crutch to walk a result. To try and find an equal comparison between sport and human mortality would be despicable and wrong. They are not comparable.

Now here is my bugbear. Since this year's World Cup final, there have been far too many examples of teams or particular players of teams being targeted for special treatment from opposition defences.

Now when I say special treatment, I don't mean getting a team to try to nullify a talented attacker with tight marking or good tackling. I mean stopping him, via fair means or foul. It's funny in these situations how often the means revert to foul.

On Tuesday night, Stoke City's Andy Wilkinson injured Fulham striker Moussa Dembele with what I refuse to call a tackle. It bordered on assault. The challenge was late, the lunge was reckless and initially it looked as if Dembele's ankle was broken. Thankfully he only sustained ligament damage - but how absurd is it that we're grateful that a player only sustained ligament damage because another one can't - or won't - tackle fairly.

So one of Stoke's players commit a savage assault on the opposition and their statement of contrition comes from assistant manager Dave Kemp, "All I can say is that I hope the player is not too badly hurt. There is no malice in his challenge - it is just over-enthusiasm"

Not really much of a mea culpa. But as far as Stoke go, Dembele's not exactly their first. While fortune favoured the Moroccan, Ryan Shawcross succeeded where Wilkinson failed by breaking the leg of Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey in February. Once again, Stoke explained the challenge away by saying that it was an accident and that there was no malicious intent on the part of Shawcross.

A toddler spilling their glass of juice all over your new rug is an accident - and even then you try to educate it to not repeat this mistake. Despite what the tabloids would have you believe, footballers are not children. They are grown adults. They not only have an obligation to try their utmost to win a game, but they are obligated to do so within the rules of the sport.

Allow me to go back to my initial point for a moment. Car accidents, like footballers getting injured, are an unavoidable facet of life. But on the road most people do what they can to lessen the chances of this happening. Speed limits, seatbelts, traffic lights and driving with due care and attention are put in place along with the threat of prosecution if these laws are not adhered to. In theory, football has its own regulations to keep thuggery off the pitch. But Wilkinson wasn't sent-off on Tuesday. And Holland's Nigel De Jong also escaped a red card after karate kicking Xabi Alonso in the World Cup final. What's the point of having these deterrents if the officials fail to use them?

The media are also culpable. Only a handful of newspapers (mainly the right-wing ones), along with Sky, gave the Dembele incident due coverage. The BBC on the other hand, deferred from confronting not only Wilkinson's tackle, but the larger debate on reckless force that pervades the British game. It seems that the malaise that has afflicted the corporation since the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross/Andrew Sachs scandal has spread to its football coverage. These days the BBC give you completely anodyne analysis, assuming they give you any opinion at all. If they don't begin to phase Alan Shearer out of their programming after his clownish display on last Saturday's episode of Match Of The Day then they never will. But then that's a rant for another day.

And yet again, us fans must also be held accountable for this thuggish conduct from players. In Britain, we tend to prize the physical over the aesthetic, the robust over the elegant. Even at the Emirates Stadium, I can tell you from experience that the crowd are more likely to make noise in the presence of a thundering tackle rather than a glorious 20 pass move that leads to a goal. And this is from the club who are acknowledged to play the most attractive football in the country.

Our very football phrases lend to this penchant for physical contact. "Get stuck in!", "Put your foot in!", "Get in their faces!", "Put them under!". These are all euphemisms for tackle as often as you can and as hard as you can. And if you don't get the ball, no matter. At least you've sent the opposition a message.

And yet so many fans lap it up. Many a time you'll hear a crowd shout abuse at a player for going down when injured. "Get up you poof! He barely touched ya!" (Sadly, homophobic slurs are still commonplace in the game) And it's justified by the ludicrous statement, "Football's a man's game". As if this makes it ok for players to tackle without any consideration. I'd hope one wouldn't drive home at 70mph after having a few down the pub. And if they did, I doubt their thought process in the event of an accident would be, "S*** happens".

But this is how we view things in the UK. And this attitude needs to stop. I believe football should be played as a man's game (by which I don't mean solely by men). And as such players have a duty to act responsibly and with a degree of common sense (I'm talking professionally here. What they get up to off the pitch is a separate issue). Hurting a peer and then running to the safety of your coaches who say that "you're not that kind of player" is not the behaviour of a man. It's the behaviour of a boy. Take some damn responsibility for how you play the game. Because this is not how men behave.

And as well as Stoke and Holland there have been others who seem to think that injuring a player through carelessness is simply collateral damage. It's not. We are talking about people's careers which are being shortened or ended. And yet newspapers and fans would rather focus on diving and play-acting as the primary ill of the game. Well no player was ever stretchered from the pitch because of diving. And I don't think play-acting ever resulted in a footballer requiring surgery.

Football is becoming less of a game for men and more of a game for cowards. So here's a message to them:

To the Liverpool fans who cheered Alan Smith's horrific broken leg in a game against Manchester United in 2006. You are cowards.

To Martin Taylor, who snapped Eduardo Da Silva's leg in two in 2008 and robbed him of his peak years as a footballer. You are a coward.

To Karl Henry, who intentionally kicked Joey Barton all over Molineux and then broke Bobby Zamora's leg a week later. You are a coward.

To the entire Holland team who partook in the World Cup final this year. You are cowards who should have been thrown out of international football.

To Andy Wilkinson, Ryan Shawcross, Dave Kemp, Tony Pulis, Stoke City and its ravenous fanbase. You are all cowards.

And every fan who cheers when one of their players makes a late tackle on an opposition player, which could potentially have hurt him. You are cowards. Every last one of you.

Many would rather focus on how simulation is ruining the game. And I agree. But that doesn't mean we should ignore an even more heinous flouting of football's rules. The aforementioned cowards are despoiling 'the beautiful game'. And we are letting it happen. Until we stigmatise violent players the same way we stigmatise players with a propensity to dive, this is a problem that will only get worse over time.

The game's governing bodies need to take a firm stand on this because if the cowards are allowed to continue in this manner, eventually there'll be no game left that's worth watching.

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  1. Pathetic article. That is all.

  2. I think you should watch netball, or maybe this might be a bit rough for you!

  3. Of course you don't call petrick Viera a coward (20 seconds in)

  4. I agree that pathetic cowards are ruining the game. John Terry should be banned for life.

  5. Mwaaaaah, Mummy the big boys are being rough again.

  6. if you cant take the heat keep out of the kitchen.
    why dont you stay at home and do crosswords
    all day.
    you will not be happy untill football,rugby,cricket and all other sport is banned from the world.
    are you an arsenal fan by any chance...?
    stoke city forever..we rule britannia.
    welcome to the britannia..

  7. so no one was ever injured before! another newcomer to football who carnt believe it isnt the nice happy clappy game you think it is, sorry this upsets you, football is a man's game, the cowards are the likes of Arsene Wenger who was happy to let his own players get away with murder when they were winning trophies then attempts to divert attention from his own failings. Please go away and let us have our game back

  8. Are you American by any chance?

  9. Fabrigas is the worst kind of culprit with his snide, sly tackles.

  10. have you ever played football Shane? maybe you should try before writing about something you have absolutley no knowledge

  11. No such comments last week Shane? Blackpool laid down and let you score 6.

    You don't like it up you, do you?

  12. heres a message to Shane Thomas: You are a thick tw@t

  13. 'becoming increasingly prevalent in the game' What?
    You've obviously only been around for five minutes. For the last 40 years I've been watching the game it's always been a contact sport, and players have more protection now than ever. The only thing that is becomming more prevalent is the lack of sportmanship, and the increase in cheating/decepition and feigning injuries.

  14. Some heavy generalisations there Shane, just another example of lazy journalism from you and yoyr ilk.

    One question? Rather than hinting at it, would you just clarify (yes or no) if you thought Andy Wilkinson's tackle was assault?
    Not that I care a jot about your opinions but I think his solicitors would interested.

  15. I take it you play netball and are into ladyboys. Thats one of the most biased and stupid things i've ever read. Whinger himself could'nt of come up with such rubbish, go to your ballet lessons instead of watching the mans game (if you do)

  16. "...will only get worse over time..."

    "..there'll be no game left worth watching...".

    Perhaps you need to go and watch a series of games through the last 5 decades to understand that this sort of thing has improved drastically, that's if you've got time between your manicure and perm.....

  17. You say Andy Wilkinson's tackle was an assualt. What about Beckford's challenge on Harper that put the keeper out for 12 weeks, you haven't mentioned that have you? Oh yes I forgot, it doesn't fit in with your agenda does it?

    You Sir, are an idiot and a hypocrite. Anybody can write this splurge sitting behind a desk in their cosy office knowing full well nobody will ever question your comments face-to-face. Therefore, you my friend are the coward.

  18. You are going to have to stop reading the Guardian young's turning your brain to tofu!!

  19. this is a really original blog, i wonder where you got your ideas from? Your own playing experience? the years you have spent watching all levels of pro and amateur football? or did you read one of 1000's of other Arsenal fan's blogs and put your name to it?

    Its a shame that people like you are now calling yourselves football fans, i don't like to see players getting injured but if the likes of you are getting upset and will stop watching our game then it may not be such a bad thing

  20. I resent being called a coward. Having served my country for over 30 years you have no right to use the term, I suspect I am not alone. I doubt if you will/could ever show such application, you find it easy to make a living maligning others with scandalous unfounded accusations. As a life long supporter of Stoke City I ask that you compare the game we enjoy now to that we also enjoyed in the 1970's. If you believe that Mr Wilkinson's challenge was assault as you describe on several occasions (something perhaps you would like to say to Mr Wilkinson in person) in order he could correctly seek redress through the legal system, then what would you call the challenges of Mess rs Hunter, Stiles, Smith, and latterly Viera?. Of course the game has moved on this element of the game has always been present in our game I for one would nor want to see the whole hearted commitment shown by these players removed from the game nor do I want to lose the excitement or quality of the flare players. The balance is what makes the game what it is. I know Mr Wilkinson and therefore perhaps better understand that the last thing he would ever want to do is to injure any person whether on or off a football field, and he would be the first to acknowledge the fact the tackle he made was wrong but certainly not malicious. What he will always want to do is wear his heart on his sleeve and to show 100% commitment to a football club that is in his heart something I personally will continue to pay my deserved pension to watch.

  21. come to stoke my friend and dare to face all these cowards somehow i dont think you will

  22. Hmm, let's see...

    "I would never try to compare a motor accident to any kind of injury on the football pitch." - You say that and then go on to compare the two in detail, twice!

    "Only a handful of newspapers (mainly the right-wing ones), along with Sky, gave the Dembele incident due coverage." - Every paper/tv coverage I have seen has focussed on the tackle and nothing to do with the result. On the league cup show for example, most of the stoke v fulham coverage was about the tackle, not the goals. Nothing was mentioned however, about the similarly horrifc tackle against Kakuta in the Newcastle v Chelsea game?

    "A toddler spilling their glass of juice all over your new rug is an accident" - You are just trying to belittle the meaning of the word 'accident', relating it to a frivolous incident. Accidents can relate to all sorts of incidents, large or small.

    Nobody at Stoke City has disagreed that the Wilko tackle was bad and uncalled for. Any response from a Stoke fan on any of these tackles is one defending their club, as it's name is being dragged through the mud on the basis of what the media and high profile managers like to report and focus on.

    Calling everyone cowards is just another way of trying to put your opponents down, trying to take the moral high ground, when in fact you have no arguement at all.

  23. 'I would never try to compare a motor accident to any kind of injury on the football pitch'

    so why did you then?

    I probably should of stopped reading then, some one who contradicts themselves in the first 3 paragraphs was never going to write an intelligent article. But i read on and didnt know if i should laugh or cry. You really are missing the point aren't you, i won't try explaining football to you, i doubt you even know the off side rule

  24. The game's governing bodies need to take a firm stand on this because if the cowards are allowed to continue in this manner, eventually there'll be no game left that's worth watching.

    There is a game worth watching, it been here a very long time, long before Sky. sorry if you dont enjoy it from your armchair

  25. Spineless cowards? More like a spineless journo from what i see. Why do you guys insist on writing the same old crap time and time again? As a stoke fan i agree the tackle was miss-timed....but was it assault? was it hell! Wilkinson had every right to go for the ball, and like it or not tackling is a part of the game and will continue to be (or maybe not if Arsene Wenger has his way). Like many have pointed out there are far worse tackles out there for you to ridicule, from the so called "top teams" yet no mention of them...suprise suprise. Yet again a lazy journo jumping on the "dirty stoke" bandwagon....give it a rest mate its been done, we hear it time and time again from you self styled "football purists" and its getting rather boring.

  26. Wenger has assembled a squad of five-a-side players, and now seems baffled that his group of lightweight flair players cannot handle the perfectly legitimate physical contact that comes with professional football.

    It is like assembling a midget basketball team, then complaining that the opposition keep shooting over their heads."

  27. I don't think this guy is a Yank, more like Adrian 'bullied at school' Durham.

    Should be easy enough to arrange a meeting in Stoke for a chat about cowardice?

  28. Clearly the man who wrote this - whoever Shane Thomas is? - has no idea about football. He's seen a few highlights, read a couple of newspaper reports, and made this truely pathetic article. To call so many cowards whilst sat behind a computer screen - hypocrisy at its greatest!

  29. Shane Thomas you are the coward. Please come to Stoke-On-Trent and say these words. You pathetic man.

  30. no one is agreeing with you Shane, i wonder why?

  31. you are the worst sort of hippocrite, conveniently forgetting that arsenal were one of the dirtiest teams in the league during the early noughties. At the Brit when ramsey got hurt during a 50/50 challenge (if you care to watch the video), your team were more concerned with barracking the ref to get shawcross sent off than in going to the aid of your own player. who took care of him? why glen whelan of course. get real.

  32. Another clueless arsenil fan.
    Ask yourself these questions, this season who's manager has been fined and had a ban for his coduct, answer arsen wenger which team has had the most red cards so far? answer arsenil.
    Who was sent of for a lunge at stokes keeper in 2008 answer R V Persie for arsenil.
    Which team member was found guilty of diving to get a penalty against celtic answer arsenil.
    Oh and who's team has had over 80 red cards since being manager answer arsen wenger.

  33. Mwaaaaaah.Mummy no-one likes me.


    It was stupid of Andy Wilkinson and the ref maybe should have taken action, but to continue to focus on one club who are actually improving their disciplinary record and calling them 'cowards' and having a go at other players and clubs when Arsenal have the worst disciplinary record in Premier league history and as you can see, still get up to some strong stuff themselves. Were you cowards while trying to kick Messi off the pitch in the CL last season?

  35. Stupid bloggers are uglifying the beautiful written word

  36. People like the author of this article are killing football with their hysterical nonsense. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

  37. View my complete profile... Oh nothing here.. whose the coward?

  38. you're article sir is faulted by you're first half dozen lines,you start by comparin it to a road accident then tellin everyone for you're own arguments sake that you aren't compairin the two .Face facts sugar plum it's a contact sport if you don't like it take up knitting

  39. Uglifying? Dear oh dear.

    I think I'd be rather tempted to stick to thing within my cultural reference map; maybe dodgeball, Texas hold'em or hot dog eating contests?

    Furthermore, you'd think Arsenal fans might particularly steer clear of smearing other clubs as 'thugs' with their, frankly, awful recent history - involving genuinely horrific tackles from Messrs Diaby, Gallas, Henry, Fabregas amongst many.

    But no, in they steam with all the puritancical zeal of their strange manager.

    Ill-timed tackles, even over-zealous reckless tackles, have been going on since Moses was in short trousers (not that we can really expect post-'92 Arsenal soccerball fans to 'get' that).

    They are not a symptom of one style of play or another, but discrete incidents which happen and deserve to be judged on their merits as and when they occur.

    No club is beyond criticism, yet it seems some unglamorous clubs north of Watford (that's a place just north of London, for the benefit of the American 'fan') are easy targets.

    The only surprise here is that this 'author' thought he had anything original to say in this pile of regurgitated, redundant rubbish.

  40. Complete and utter drivel. Wikinson's tackle was late and poor but it happens. To sanitise football in the way that you want would ruin the game. As for Ryan Shawcross the incident with Ramsey was clearly a 50-50 ball which he had every right to go for. Since then an Arsenal inspired mythology has completely reinvented the incident as a deliberate horror tackle which is absolutely untrue.

  41. Wow. Anonymous is a very popular Christian name these days.

  42. Shane Thomas you are a Cunt.

    that is all.

  43. I wonder how many clubs even ones from the top 6 of the premier would have done as well as Stoke by ignoring the pathetic bandwagon media by surviving the drop when arriving into the prem. ?
    Yes Stoke players have made bad tackles like all the other teams , but when other teams do it the media dont keep bring it up like they do with Stoke , its certainly getting very boring especially the Ryan Shawcross saga.
    If some of the reporters would manage to even turn up for the games instead of watch from a studio they might see a different light. It looks to me as though its all one sided and folks love to get on the bandwagon. Yes your Manchester Uniteds, Asenals and Chelsea's and Liverpool's have all had their thugs over the last few years, but I would certainly sooner watch Stoke's style of play than those silly lads falling over every few minutes. I would to see if a player hits the deck he has to go to the sideline and wait 10 minures , then see how many dive. Yes would sooner see a very hard tackle any day than a diver and a cheat. Aresenal certainly have the share of Jacques Cousteau and Mike Nelsons.

  44. Geoff, given that you haven't been abusive & had the good grace to leave your name I'm happy to debate your point.

    My issue isn't with Stoke's style of play when in possession. Case in point, they deserve plenty of credit for their 2-1 comeback win against Villa. My issue is with any player who hurts another unnecessarily. The fact is that two Stoke players are guilty of just that. But it's not just them. Wolves have also been culprits (as stated in the post). My main focus was on Moussa Dembele so I don't see how I only care about top 6 clubs. To give another example, Everton's Victor Anichebe was on the shelf for months due to a shocker of a challenge from Kevin Nolan when Newcastle got relegated last.

    As well as this, Michael Essien went through a spell of reckless tackling when he first arrived in England - thankfully he's curbed this and is proving himself to be one of the Premier League's best midfielders. As well as this Jack Wilshere seems to have a nasty habit of flying in without due care and attention. And while he's young & inexperienced, this is no excuse. I'll happily call out anyone who hurts a fellow professional simply because they couldn't mind their surroundings. Hence the reason I called out Shawcross, Wilkinson, Henry & De Jong (who also plays for a 'top 6' club).

    Geoff, thank you for taking the time to respond respectfully. This is not sarcasm on my part at all. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing with a certain point of view, as long as you're not being disagreeable.

  45. Shane good evening my name is Neil

    I posted earlier as the person having served his country for over 30 years.
    There was nothing abusive within my earlier post. However I must take you to task on your earlier post quote
    "To Andy Wilkinson, Ryan Shawcross, Dave Kemp, Tony Pulis, Stoke City and its ravenous fanbase. You are all cowards."

    That is offensive and disrespectful.I am not sure if it was your intention to provoke a reaction if it was then I am afraid you have lost the moral high ground in my opinion.

    I am not sure what you are referring in the piece in your response to Geoff "I'll happily call out anyone who hurts a fellow professional simply because they couldn't mind their surroundings. Hence the reason I called out Shawcross, " I would welcome your explanation of mind their surroundings... I saw the Shawcross tackle both live and on some of the many repeats he had his eyes at all times on the ball, not the man, young and inexperienced to use your words and over enthusiastic but not malicious and certainly not as some have suggested carrying out the instructions of his manager. I hope this provokes some thought into your earlier blanket description of Stoke fans, its players and Manager.

  46. Shane
    I responded earlier by name and yes I called you a lazy journalist which I am quite prepared to say to your face if you wish.
    I put it to you that you have never played enough football to understand that mistimed challenges can happen in the heat of the game.
    I also ask you in regard to the Shawcross/Ramsey incident... if Shawcross had not been slightly impeded (intentionally) by an Arsenal player in his approach to what was a 50/50 challenge and had he got to the ball first and then Ramsey had broken Ryan's leg.... would you be whining on about how dirty and cowardly Arsenal were??? No, of course you wouldn't. Rory Delap had his leg broken in one of his first games for the club but did the football journo's bleat on and on about this ad infinitum? Again No! It happens, it's football and if you do think Wilkinson's challenge was a deliberate assault like you were inferring in your article, then I again ask you to confirm this and stop being the coward that you accuse other people of being.

  47. I'm guessing you're an Arsenal fan.

    There's nothing wrong with the way Stoke City play.
    Direct football is surely the purest form of football, the aim of football, afterall, is to win by scoring more goals than the opposition. The aim of football has not and will never be passing a ball around the halfway line boring the shit out of people for 90 minutes. 'beautiful football' my arse.

    Rory Delap throwing the ball onto Kenwynne Jones' head in the 79th minute of the game against fulham was beautiful football.
    Direct, to the point.

  48. Ian

    As I've just done with Neil, I apologise for not giving your comment due attention. Sadly, you seem to be in the minority that takes issue with my view but doesn't feel the need to be abusive.

    As far as your comment goes, I'm actually not a journalist. Just a fan of the game with an opinion, same as you (I'm assuming you're not a journalist yourself).

    I've never played football at pro or semi-pro level. Just leagues on Saturdays on Saundays, so I don't think that I am the authority on all things football.

    If Ramsey had broken Shawcross's leg then I would have had no problem with tagging him for it. While I don't mind admitting I'm an Arsenal fan, I still believe that the sport itself is more important than any personal allegiances. For example, in his first full season as an Arsenal player Cesc Fabregas made an atrocious challenge in an FA Cup game against Sheffield United - the player's name escapes me. He was lucky not to be sent-off. I personally think the FA should have taken stronger action & banned him for more than 3 games. It was a stupid & cowardly challenge. And as for Rory Delap's broken leg, one of my complaints was how the media have an indifferent attitude towards these kind of injuries. A broken limb doesn't become important because it happens to a player in a major Premier League side. It's sickening, full stop.

    Again, thank you for responding without resorting to bile. However, you seem to have me confused with one of those one-eyed Arsenal fans who think everything the club does os wonderful and that there's some conspiracy from everyone else to stop us playing our 'tiki-taka' style of football. There are plenty of fans like this but I'm not one of them. If I've made an incorrect assumption on that point then I'm truly sorry.

  49. Sorry Ian, despite that comment showing as 'sports history show', it is from me (Shane Thomas). My fault, I didn't change the title at the top.

  50. Justinho

    Yes, as stated above, I am an Arsenal fan. I never said anything negative about Stoke's style of play when in possession. It's not my preferred style of play to watch, but then that's just horses for courses. The way Stoke play tends to work for them, so it's the way they should play. Their Premier League performances over the past 2 years have proven this.

    I don't think there is any such thing as 'pure football'. Just good & bad. And good football is having a game plan to get the best out of your players and then executing well. For example, I think that Blackpool's style of play is more pleasing to the eye than Blackburn's, but I also think Blackburn play better football. And the Premier League positions at the end of the season will likely bear that out.

  51. Shawcross went for a 50-50 ball....It was an accident! It wasn't two footed; he went for the ball. What more do you want? It could quite easily have been the other way round.

    Wilko however was very rash and silly in that challenge and should have known better, but to keep dragging the Shawcross incident up is just becoming boring.

  52. I accept that an entire post on Shawcross may have been a bit tiresome, but I mention more than one incident here. It seems that a lot of the comments want to focus on Shawcross. If this was one isolated incident I wouldn't have bothered writing anything. But this is happening far too often in recent months (WC final, Wilkinson, Henry) and I'm worried that it'll be a regular thing in the game.

  53. What on Earth does 'couldn't mind their surroundings' mean? Do you even know what you're saying anymore?

    Anti-football gloryhunting no-marks who write articles like this make me very, very sad inside.

  54. For the record, the Wilkinson challenge was a bog standard yellow card. 20 years ago a yellow card would have been issued and nobody would have cared. Years before that there would probably have only been a warning for it. If a late, clumsy tackle is now being thought of as a horrible assault that should carry grave punishments, I may as well give up watching football altogether.

    A much, much more pressing issue is dealing with cheats like Nasri, Fabregas and Rooney who think that it's acceptable to dive around the pitch for 90 minutes. You see, genuine 'horror tackles' are very rare, suggesting that the punishment system is perfectly adequate. Anybody who's watched any top division football in Europe lately would be inclined to suggest that the punishment system is far too harsh. Diving, however, is more prevalent than ever before and it is one of the cancers that is killing the game. Whenever Chelsea, Arsenal or West Ham play, the game is absolutely unwatchable because of the non-stop cheating. The fairest solution would be to have a video referee assigned to every game in a round of fixtures and he watches for any instances of diving. If he spots any, he notes them down and sends them on to a committee, who dole out 12 month bans to players caught out diving. During this time, their wages are paid directly to the FA. You'd think twice about cheating then. "I'm sorry Messrs Nasri and Chamakh, but if you didn't want to lose a year of your career, you shouldn't have thrown away your dignity by casting a slur upon your fellow professionals and the referee in your league cup game against Tottenham". Problem solved.

    I'd much rather watch a game where players are playing in the hard-but-fair spirit that the game was intended in and getting stuck into tackles than watch the likes of Behrami, Young and Walcott cheating and picking a fight with anybody who makes contact with them. Bring back proper football.

  55. Fair enough Shane, at least you have the decency to try and explain yourself but your view on the Shawcross incident still leaves me baffled and I quote "If Ramsey had broken Shawcross's leg then I would have had no problem with tagging him for it,".
    It appears that you seem to base any guilt on the injury sustained not the intent, just the same as the referee did at the time. He didn't even look like he was going to caution Shawcross until he saw the extent of the injury. To me, that is lazy and possibly even cowardly refereeing.
    What you appear to be saying is that you would completely shift the blame onto Ramsey, had Shawcross been just that a split second quicker and won the ball himself before sustaining a broken leg himself!!!.. I just can't believe you're serious.
    No I'm not a journalist, yes I've played and watched a lot of football and yes as you've guesed, I'm a big Stoke fan. None of this makes me an expert of course but your comments, particularly about Ryan, are inflammatory in the extreme and you should really have a good think about your accusations.

  56. Sendings off this season

    Stoke - 0

  57. Ian

    You many have a point about the referee making his judgement based on the outcome rather than the initial intent. And I disagree with refs doing so. But I do think the right decision was made as Shawcross was off the ground when he made the tackle with his studs raised. I could be mistaken but if Ramsey had caught Shawcross instead, I don't believe he would have studded the Stoke player's leg & potentially caused serious injury. That's how I remember it, but maybe I'm mistaken.

    I concur that my statements were pejorative,and they were borne out of my outrage after watching Dembele's injury. Had that not happened then maybe it would have been something I would have complained to my friends about rather than put in this specific forum. But I do feel justified in what I've said, and I don't feel I specifically singled Shawcross out. He was one of a few people I've called to account on here. As I said in an earlier comment, I think Shawcross is a fine player and to my knowledge hasn't committed a similar offence since.

    That being said, I'm happy for us to disagree on this point. I have no personal vendetta against your club, physical play within the laws is fine & helps our league stay diverse. Blackburn, Wolves & Stoke have as much a right to play in the Premier League as Arsenal & West Brom. That's why we have league positions. To separate the wheat from the chaff.

  58. As for the red card situation this season, Arsenal have had 2 more players sent-off this season than Stoke & for good reason. Both Koscielny & Song fully merited their red cards. But I will say that they were never in any danger of severely injuring another player in those incidents. However, they flouted the game's laws & have been deservedly punished as a result.

  59. I'm surprised the family Anonymous can spell their surname judging by their comments.