Was Murphy right to tackle the managers?
Fulham midfielder Danny Murphy opened up a can of worms when he hit out at the tackling of some of his fellow professionals last week.
Murphy described some tackling as “brainless” and suggested managers were sending their players out so pumped-up that they were flying in to reckless tackles.
The League Managers Association (LMA) hit back on Monday, saying Murphy’s comments were inappropriate.
In a statement the LMA said the fast pace of the modern game had made tackling more difficult than ever and that no manager would send their players out on to the pitch to deliberately harm an opponent.
Does the LMA have it right in saying Murphy went too far, especially in singling out Wolves, Stoke and Blackburn Rovers?
What is instantly apparent from the press box view we get as journalists is that tackling, as the LMA says, has to be timed to perfection, otherwise the result can be ugly and injuries like the ones Eduardo, Aaron Ramsey, Bobby Zamora and Hatem Ben Arfa suffered are splashed all over the back pages.
Skill should be applauded and encouraged of course and referees must protect the ball-players. The question is, what more can referees realistically do? Football needs close contests to be compelling and if we begin to demonise those players whose job it is to make life difficult for the more skilful sides, or managers for “motivating” their teams, football may be in danger of losing much of the passion that makes it so popular.
The reality is that the game has got quicker, players are faster and fitter, footwear is lighter, balls are more like beachballs compared to the lumps of leather that used to get bogged down in the mud and pitches that are already pretty slick are often watered before play to speed them up even more.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the strength of the human tibia, fibula or patella. Sadly they can still break on impact and with TV cameras showing every conceivable angle tackles can look worse the more you see them.
PHOTO: Fulham’s Danny Murphy reacts during their Europa League final against Atletico Madrid in Hamburg May 12, 2010. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender