As the winter weather has put paid to all of our junior and youth football this weekend I took advantage of some free time to catch up with the brilliant Jeff Stelling and the Gillette Soccer Saturday team on Sky Sports.
Like a lot of football folk I love the banter that goes on between Jeff and the boy’s in the studio as they chat about that afternoons fixtures or the previous weeks events and it’s also great to hear the views of the ex-pro’s on the current “hot-topics” such as the Vincent Kompany red card in the Arsenal v Man City game last weekend.
Just in case there’s anyone who missed the incident or the coverage this week of the F.A’s review and subsequent rescinding of the red card, Kompany was sent off for what looked to the referee like a two-footed tackle on Jack Wilshere.
The discussion was preceded by some clips of some of football’s famous “hard men” including Ron “Chopper” Harris and Tommy Smith getting stuck into opponents with tackles bordering on assault.
Whilst all of the team thought that the F.A.’s decision was correct and all agreed that the tackle didn’t deserve a red card, Phil Thompson, former Liverpool and England defender, appeared to glorify the violent tackling of the past and decided to share with the audience his disappointment that our Academies are spending all of their time teaching the young players ball skills, keepy-ups, passing and dribbling rather than spending time teaching them how to tackle. So it seems that we should be teaching our young players how to tackle to ensure that you get both the ball and the man, and which you get first is not important. In fact for some of the “tackles” that he appeared to be longing to see brought back into the game, the ball wasn’t even in view when the poor victim was being hacked down.
The funny thing was that the other ex-pro’s on the panel were Paul Merson, Charlie Nicholas, and Matt Le Tissier, all players who were more associated with using their skills rather than their physique.
So, as a coach, do you want me to coach a player to play football or coach someone to stop a player playing football?
It’s a game for players, let them play….