Friday, March 6, 2009

Wenger speaks the truth about cynical tackles; plus, an honest assessment about Ronaldo

The headlines today are about Wenger (correctly) describing Ronaldo's arrogance as provocative toward defenders who cut him down, but the chunky, protein-filled beef at the core of the Arsenal manager's presser yesterday deals with a fair assessment about the state of "getting stuck in," or what passes for it with tackling in the Premier League of late. That's understandable, I suppose, as Wenger bemoaning harsh challenges isn't necessarily anything new, but such a high-profile, respected man of the game calling a spade a spade in regards to Ronaldo is certainly a tasty headline – because it's true. The Frenchman might have a doctorate in economics and he sure is prepared to explain the dietary benefits of steamed vegetables and natural foods. But today, my friends, Arsene Wenger stands alongside the 7 a.m. drunks and all common, free men and women everywhere shuffling on down to the pub to watch the football. Arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, Wenger joins us in summing up Ronaldo for what he is.

To be fair, Wenger isn't quite on par with some of the more intense variations of the c-word that I've either said or heard spewed toward the television on a Saturday morning when United is playing. Here's Arsene:

"With Manchester United I am a bit cautious because sometimes I feel they get too much protection and sometimes they don't get enough," Wenger said. "Ronaldo is a specific example of that. Sometimes his arrogance is provocative – and his class as well."

Clearly, Ronaldo is a very good player. Sometimes he gets kicked over because he is simply superior and the defender is frustrated. But many, many times it's the fashion in which Ronaldo goes flouncing about in front of a defender and the degree to which he flashes his fancy feet at a man that makes it completely understandable to me – and apparently Arsene Wenger, too – why a defender would choose to just kick the prick sonofabitch over and into the boards.

Which brings me to Wenger's main point, and the one that got lost in the headlines today: The tackles lately have been atrocious and the referees have been awful. Wenger with the line of the week (added emphasis mine):

"Maybe we [managers] need to be stronger with our own players, but sometimes you see the players who make horrendous tackles and they say to the referees, 'What's wrong there?' After you see the pictures you think, 'My friend, touch your head because you have completely lost touch with reality.' It's unbelievable. But they know what they have done."

This recap in the Independent summarizes Wenger's recent reasons for his anger. Of course, there was Eduardo last year, though Wenger appears to have at least partially forgiven Martin Taylor, who he does not consider a dirty player. But then there's the 2006 fracture and dislocation of the ankle for Diaby, caused by Sunderland's Dan Smith. Wenger's assessment:

"If you tackle a player, anybody in the street like that, you go to jail."

Dramatic? Yes. Something we've all thought? You bet! The challenges do seem to have gotten "extra hard" of late. Most of it gets chalked up to the so-called intensity and ferocity of the Premier League. Wenger is calling for a special harsh tackles panel that could dole out suspensions of up to 10 matches for particularly egregious bad challenges. I can't say I agree with that, but as far as psychological games at press conferences aimed to influence referees, Wenger works this argument well.

Much of it gets lost in the Ronaldo comments, but perhaps that was his point. "I'll say this about Ronaldo, and the people that matter the most will read the rest of the story where I also say this." I can see him thinking that. After all, he has a doctorate and has studied the dietary effects of the healthy Far East diet.

Now, somebody buy the man a beer. Or a cranberry juice or something. I'm guessing he doesn't drink. How am I supposed to know? I'm not Colin.


Jamie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jamie said...


yeah i think that the fa or fifa should definetly do something! i think we all agree that we dont like what we see and punishment is the only way. a severe one, too...

hung, drawn and quartered is possibly a bit over board, but hung and drawn, maybe? mmm?

sometimes things go a touch too far and the rules are too slack on what goes on in a game.

if violence is NOT the way, then i think the length of a ban should be a lot more than ten games.

i mean, just look at how greasy he is! the slimey smarmy namby pamby lardy dadrdy, lardy dar...

our associate AW has a great point on the harsh tackles, too.