Oh man, I love the Friday pre-match presser. Arsene Wenger, naked, in front of dozens of sports reporters who ask pointed questions… about other teams players… like Ronaldo
Fine, this is really two related issues: hard play and diving. As for hard play I’ve talked about this before, every Arsenal blogger talked about this issue at one point or another, owing to the fact that Arsenal have probably suffered more than any at the hands of this English cultural phenomena. My argument, in essence, is that we need some hard play, but that some teams, like Bolton, when outclassed by their opponent are told by their managers and the fans to go out and “get stuck in:” intentionally tackle hard in order to disrupt play and make their opponent think twice about dribbling in to their area. Further, it’s a fact that when two teams of disparate quality come together the English referees manage the game differently. The clod-hoppers are allowed to challenge a little harder than the butterflies. After all, it’s expected that Sheffield United will come and kick Arsenal off the pitch but when we do it, it’s clearly intentional and retributive.
From grade school to the Premier League, English players are taught to play like this, English coaches coach like this, and English referees ref like this. Wenger has been on a 5 year mission to change this fact about English football and by all accounts has failed miserably. Yes, the game is a bit less rough than when he came in 12 years ago. But I could argue that that’s down to the fact that the Arsenal herself got less rough! Old heads know what I’m talking about: Patrick Vieira was no butterfly. Actually, what it’s down to is a bit of clamping down on the more cynical tactics that most defenders used to employ in order to try to align the Premier League more with the continent.
But this is Wenger’s thing right now, he wants every team to play beautiful technical football, and if asked about it will launch into a huge tirade. I think he needs to abandon this principle and bring in a Vieira type because after 5 years of trying this new, more technical football, Arsenal haven’t won shite. The reality is that you need some gritty players, guys who are going to go out and employ the dark arts. Not all the time, but when the time comes, you’ll know it. Like whenever Kevin Davies is on the pitch: one good tackle and that fucking clod-hopper will be put in his place.
The other thing, the comment about Ronaldo and how he invites hard play because he’s such a ponce, well, yeah. DUH. It’s true. I wrote about this issue after the Hleb/Murty incident. And again, the essence of the argument goes like this: I hate to see players “make a meal” of contact. When 140 lb Hleb “struck” Murty he fell to the ground like he had been hit by Mike Tyson. When Cesc was brushed by Arteta’s elbow he went to ground as if he’d had his eye socket collapsed. etc. etc. You all know what I’m talking about and it’s one of the most infuriating aspects of modern football. Can you imagine Tony Adams pulling a Murty? Hell no, he’d be more likely to bide his time, wait for the perfect moment and take Hleb out with a well timed slide tackle. Then stand over him and say “keep your hands to yourself, son.”
Given his history of histrionics and admission that “when I feel contact I go down” Ronaldo is the poster child for this type of feigning injury douche baggery and Wenger points that out. Yes, Taylor’s arm struck Ronaldo on the shoulder, and that should have been a yellow, or maybe a retroactive red. But watching Ronaldo slumped over by the hoardings, grasping his face as if he’d been kicked in the face is a disgrace on the modern game.
He’s play acting, he’s faking, HE’S CHEATING.
I don’t know how you stamp this sort of thing out, maybe have after match reviews and fine players who are clearly feigning injury for bringing the game into disrepute (Eb*ue).
Or… maybe we just let the hard tacklers have at them and call it a wash?
Anyway, Burnley on Sunday and it’s a 6:30am kickoff, live on Fox Soccer Channel, which means sausages and skivvy’s and liveblogging for me, you have to tune in for that.
Match preview tomorrow, if you’re in to that sort of thing. See you then!