Monday, 8 June 2015

Football has to 'tackle' a problem.

Call me old-fashioned, but whatever happened to players being allowed to tackle?

After watching the Champions League final and how all too easily most of the Barcelona players went to ground it made me realise exactly how soft the modern player has become.

However, there was one player who stood out in the match for his determination and that was Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal, who was blasted by commentators for his over-aggressive style of play, but I put it down to his true desire to win and a desire not to let the opposition control the play.

Vidal should be praised for his attempt to do something that seems to be frowned upon in the modern game and that is to tackle. I'm in no way condoning over the top challenges but I am suggesting that players should at least be permitted to try and win the ball without the worry of being cautioned for nothing.

It's true that Barcelona has an abundance of quality when it comes to the attack but having said that how many times during the match did Suarez and Neymar fall to the ground from the slightest of touches in an attempt to con the referee and how depressing was it to see how many times it worked. The Turkish referee was shocking in the final and I'm sure the Barca players knew how gullible he was before going into the match.

I can't imagine what would have happened if the hardest men I've ever seen play had been involved in that match. The likes of Bryan Robson, Stuart Pearce, Nobby Stiles, Graham Souness, Jimmy Case, Norman Whiteside, Roy Keane and Norman 'bite your legs' Hunter would have been given their marching orders within the first five minutes.

In fact, I believe that most of the Barcelona side would have thrown a sickie if they had seen those players in the tunnel before the match.

It seems that the main culprits of this namby-pamby style of play originate from South America, which surprises me as back in the 60's the hardest men in the game came from places like Argentina. Cast your mind back to the '66 World Cup when England, not shy of the odd kick out here and there, came up against an Argentine team that coined the phrase 'Argy Bargy'.

Then you had the '68 clashes between Manchester United and Estudiantes in which George Best and Nobby Stiles were lucky to be sent off before being carried off.

How times and players have changed. Nowadays players are streamlined, physically fit and athletic, however, they have another element to their game and that is basically cheating. Put it down to money and pressure it still doesn't deter from the fact that too many players are now adept at conning the ref and, therefore, the fans.

Of course, cheating to gain an advantage is not a new thing, it's been around for decades, but it seems to be everywhere within the game these days right down to grass roots level. I recently went to watch an Under 10's schoolboy's game and one of the youngsters fell to the ground as if he had been shot following the minimal of touches, as he was rolling around his watching dad ran onto the pitch and dragged him up to his feet and told the coach to sub him.

I for one don't blame the kids as they are only copying their idols, but it's up to the pro's and football associations to consider the future of the game. I understand that with all the new UEFA rulings the referees are under pressure to keep a tight control on tackling but it's becoming ridiculous how it's affecting the game as a spectacle.

Something has to be done and quickly before the beautiful game becomes a charade where no contact is allowed between the players. You may think this is impossible, but with Platini at the head of UEFA anything's possible. He may have been a world class player but he was also prone to go to ground far too easily himself.

The answer is to instruct the officials to allow the game to flow and not to let the cheaters control the match or be fooled by their comical theatrics. I'm sure they will soon get to their feet once they realise nothing is forthcoming and get on with showing their true talent.

Thank you Vidal for at least trying to put the bite back into the game.

Thanks for reading.

Miles Dunton.