Time To Tackle The Tough Tackling

The audacity of some people to link Manchester United’s Paul Scholes with the dark side of football is quite preposterous.

Arsene Wenger recently said that Scholes has a “dark side” to his game, but the outspoken Frenchman should now retract that baseless statement after watching some clips of some of the challenges made by players from other clubs.

After watching Nigel De Jong’s x-rated, malicious-intent filled lunge on Hatem Ben Arfa in Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Newcastle was enough to send shivers down one’s spine as well as boiling their blood.

Scholes has most certainly made some wild, ill-timed tackles, but there has never been one that remotely compares to any of the THREE tackles that De Jong has made during the last seven months, which could have potentially ended a player’s life let alone their career.

De Jong first offense was a ill-advised, leg-breaking tackle on American international Stuart Holden, which almost cost him a place on the United States’ 2010 FIFA World Cup roster, but thankfully he recovered in time.

The next brash challenge was on the world’s biggest footballing stage – the World Cup final – which the entire world saw him needlessly lunch a kick into the sternum of Spain’s Xabi Alonso.

What these raged-filled, foolhardy players do not realize is the severity of these red-misted, reckless challenges could very easily end up causing life-threatening, permanent injuries to the recipient of those ill-fated tackles.

The English game has always been known for its bruising, no non-sense defenders, but what is happening in the modern day is nothing short of disgusting.

To even think that De Jong got away without a yellow card is criminal to say the least, and if the English Football Association does not sternly punish him, it will just keep happening and, ultimately, effect other aspects of the beautiful game.

People often say that diving makes this sport somewhat unwatchable, and not to justify a player doing this, but the rough play from defenders against a very vulnerable attacker has contributed to the growing popularity of simulation.

When a player, like Ben Arfa was doing, is running at full steam he is completely unaware and defenseless to what their opposition can and might do, and once this part of the game is cleaned up then the opposite will be true.

The days of players being able to ride out some of these challenges are long gone, because the defenders are getting more forceful.

A former United player was often subjected to these types of mindless, gut-wrenching tackles, but no one really made anything of it, because the misconceived notion about the player.

When Cristiano Ronaldo played for Manchester United, he was often criticized for going to the ground quite easily, but what opposing supporters did not realize is the amount of grim challenges he has also suffered or avoided.

Ronaldo was a player that people either loved him or hated him, but a lot of the hatred was do to his cocky attitude and the jealousy of not having him in your team, but to say that he was only a diver is a bit unfounded.

Here are three different examples to disprove those theories about Cristiano.

Two seasons ago at the Britannia Stadium against Stoke City, their defender Andy Wilkinson maliciously threw himself at Ronaldo in an attempt to hurt him.

Before that, against Middlesbrough Clinton Morrison thew himself and his entire body weight in attempt to get retribution for Ronaldo earlier diving to win a penalty.

Some will make the case that it is only against lesser-skilled, lower-placed teams, but this final example will clearly show that this is not a justifiable reason, because even a successful club and a very respected player can have moment of mindless madness.

With United winning 1-0, Ronaldo got the ball on the wing, and as he was about to hit top gear a flying, shameful tackle by Joe Cole halted him in his tracks and could have very easily ended his career.

That wild-from-behind challenge, even though it warranted a sending off, was only deemed to be a yellow card offense by Mike Dean.

Some of the tastiest, thoughtless tackles that Ronaldo was subjected to during his time at Old Trafford came from none other than Arsenal players – whether it was Ashley Cole, Emmanuel Eboue or Sol Campbell – which makes Wenger’s accusation of Scholes that much more hypocritical.

There are a couple of players that have been unfortunate to be grouped into this thug mentality.

Rangers defender Kirk Broadfoot and Stoke City’s captain Ryan Shawcross for their respective mistimed challenges on Antonio Valencia and Aaron Ramsey.

With the United blinders off, Scholes has had some rush-of-the-blood moments – e.g. almost connecting with a withdrawn punch directed towards Alonso during the dramatic 1-0 win at Anfield in 2006/07 – but never has he tried to end the career of a fellow footballer.

Americans are known to love the hard-hitting sports like American football, which was under scrutiny for defenseless cheap shots on wide receivers, but they will never share their love for the world’s game because of the theatrics of some the players – even though it has all been caused by the rough-tackling, mindless defenders.

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