We shouldn’t allow managers to try rid the beautiful game of physical football.
This weekend saw two of the most high profile managers in world football – Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – complain that football is getting too rough. They wanted more protection from the referees.
Klopp took aim specifically at his opposition, harshly criticising Burnley for playing football the way they do, on a budget that would just about cover Liverpool’s three highest paid players.
While the latter’s comments are definitely less harsh, and not as personal, both are equally ridiculous.
In defence of crunching tackles and physical battles in football
Football fans all over the world love the game because of what they grew up watching. A game where the contact is often minimal, indeed, but where the contact that is allowed is an art.
A crunching tackle where the ball is won but the defender also takes out the man, when done legally, can be as good as a goal. It can be the entire subject of conversation in the pub after the game, and in some cases, it can be talked about for years.
This style of play can also help to level the playing field.
It makes sense that Klopp would want Burnley punished heavily for roughing up his team of world class players, but it is how Sean Dyche has chosen to instruct his players to play that day. Klopp will say that his biggest concern is player welfare, but in reality his issue is with the fact that it is an absolute pain to play against a side who are willing to hurt themselves (and the opposition) in order to win the ball.
“The game’s gone…”
For years, younger football fans have had to listen to those from generations gone by explaining that the sport has gone soft, and that the best players in the world wouldn’t last a second on a pitch back in the day. It has always been nonsense, but if Klopp and Solksjaer get their way, they could end up being right.
Players, even the best ones, need to be able to take a hard tackle. Players also need to know how to dish out a hard tackle. The goal here isn’t to have players intentionally trying to hurt others, it’s about ensuring that a game played on a grass surface between elite athletes still has some sense of a physical battle.
Otherwise we’ll all just start watching golf.