Bit late for De Jong rebuke, Mr Marwijk
If Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk had slapped down Nigel de Jong after the World Cup final, Hatem Ben Arfa might now not be facing six months out with a broken leg.
Instead, only after a second “robust” challenge has De Jong been punished by being dropped for the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers with Moldova and Sweden.
His kick to the chest of Spain’s Xabi Alonso in the World Cup final was bad enough but the Manchester City midfielder’s fierce tackle on Newcastle United’s Frenchman on Sunday caused real damage. Ben Arfa had to have oxygen on the field.
What happened to the beautiful game? Moreover, what’s happened to Van Marwijk to suddenly make this decision? Sunday’s challenge was not as bad as the World Cup final kick.
“I saw no other possibility,” the coach said in a statement. “In the near future I will discuss this matter with Nigel.”
Why didn’t he discuss De Jong’s recklessness with the midfielder back in July? He did not seem so bothered by his player’s karate kick on Alonso at Soccer City.
“Both sides committed fouls and it may be regrettable for a final and it is not our style but you do play a match to win,” he said in South Africa. “I would have loved to win the match even with not so beautiful football.”
We have to remember that De Jong wasn’t sent off for either tackle. World Cup final referee Howard Webb has since said the kick to the chest should have been a red card but what about Sunday’s challenge, which didn’t even earn him a yellow?
He was going for the ball and we can’t cut out tackling altogether but there has been a spate of broken legs in the Premier League in the past few seasons, with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in particular complaining that his players don’t get enough protection.
At least Moldova and Sweden will be protected from De Jong’s tackling.