Good luck to the City boys tonight. I'm pleased to say that KK 182 is at the printers and should be out for the game at Blackpool on Sunday. However a couple of articles, which should keep, had to be left over for the next issue, and this one from Howard won't be topical by then so here it is for your perusal:
During the early stages of the Manchester City v Newcastle match, Ben Arfa suffered a double break of his leg.
As a result of this, Nigel De Jong should be drummed out of the game. Not my words, but those of incisive analyst and shock-jock Stanley Collymore.
After City’s 2-1 over Newcastle, Collymore took it upon himself to launch into a personal hatchet job on De Jong. He even resorted to a photo of the tackle to try and prove his point. Yeah, that will tell us all we need to know Stan.
The problem with his approach was that it was a clean tackle. No one around me in the crowd thought it was a foul at the time. He clearly wins the ball, without showing any studs or raising a leg. The referee was fine with it. No Newcastle players complained (the most telling fact of all). And it took over 10 seconds and a foul on a City player before anyone realised Ben Arfa was injured. David Pleat thought he had dislocated his shoulder. Even Match of The Day barely mentioned it. And, for the record, Collymore saw nothing wrong with it at the time either-fancy that eh?
I’ve heard a few say that there was no need for the challenge. What? There’s no need for tackling, or to challenge for a loose ball? Let’s just ban tackling altogether, and be done with it.
Of course, we are talking about a player with a “reputation”. The simple fact is, if that challenge had been done by, for example, Gareth Barry, there’d be less uproar in the media, and Collymore et al would probably have had little to say. But it wasn’t – but what De Jong did in the World Cup Final is irrelevant, he may throw cats off bridges to wind down after matches, it doesn’t matter, he should be judged on the tackle, and the tackle alone. And it seems only those with an agenda have a problem with it.
Football365.com and such luminaries as Mark Ogden over at The Telegraph fell into this trap. Ogden used past discrepancies to hit back at those that have defended the De Jong tackle. They just don’t get it, do they? The same stupid argument as to why Joe Cole shouldn’t have been sent off against Arsenal, because, unlike De Jong, he “isn’t that sort of player”. It simply does not matter when assessing the Ben Arfa tackle is De Jong has broken an opposition player’s leg in the previous 25 games.
You see, it’s the ignorance of pundits who decide on consequence not actions that annoys me most. When discussing De Jong’s tackle, the broken leg is irrelevant. That is down to pure bad luck. Either it was a bad tackle or it wasn’t. As I have said before, a crude tackle can result in no injury, an innocuous challenge can rupture cruciate ligaments – that is the lottery of life. But the fact is, if Ben Arfa had sprung up uninjured, none of us would have been talking about this now. No one would be criticising De Jong. Lee Dixon would probably have used the tackle in a montage to show how he broke up play effectively. But because of a freak injury, suddenly it is decided that the tackle is now upgraded to some sort of assault. What absolute drivel.
Of course the repugnant Alan Green had to get involved and agreed with Collymore – he said the FA could now ban De Jong as he wasn’t booked at the time. Sorry to disappoint you Alan, but there will be no ban – you see the reason he wasn’t booked at the time is that he won the ball fairly, and I don’t think the FA ban players for that. I know you’re hurting at Liverpool’s spiral into oblivion, but please don’t take it out on City. And due to Sky Sports News 24-hour coverage of a waterlogged golf course in Wales, we may be spared them replaying the incident on a constant loop until the FA feel inclined to act.
Collymore’s stance is slightly more understandable. In his role on Talksport, like every other DJ on there, his job is to say something controversial or usually just plain stupid, to get calls coming in, to raise revenue (he has denied this on twitter, but either way, the shows rely on controversy and people ringing in). And he had a show on after the match, so he thought this would be a good way to get the lines buzzing.
And yet he has the nerve to criticise how others do their job - you really do have to laugh sometimes. But thankfully most City fans had better things to do than listen to his pathetic rants, and his cunning plan failed. It’s funny how Stan thought he could criticise the Match of The Day pundits when clearly so incapable of incisive analysis himself. Let’s not forget that after England’s World Cup exit, one of Stan’s solutions was that every Premiership club should have to play five attacking players every game BY LAW. And as Martin Samuel kindly pointed out, Stan’s suggestions for replacements on the Match of The Day panel just happened to consist of a group of his mates. How very convenient.
Sadly, De Jong’s national manager decided to take matters into his own hands, and remove De Jong from the Dutch squad. Funny how he didn’t take this decision after earlier controversial tackles by De Jong in his national shirt, or remove Van Bommel, the dirtiest of all Dutch players – but then, unlike Van Bommel, De Jong isn’t married to the national manager’s daughter. And adding extra pressure was the Dutch media who have long called for De Jong’s removal from the squad, as he doesn’t fit into their ethos of total football. Perhaps it’s about time they stopped living in the past.
De Jong is no saint. He plays hard, very hard, and is open to criticism, and man enough to take it. He has made some bad tackles, most notably a leg-breaking foul on Stuart Holden six months ago, he has made some mistakes, he has set his stall out as a certain type of player, and he will rise or fall by that. But please let’s not allow pre-conceived ideas of a person to cloud analysis of individual incidents on the football field. Leave that to Talksport.