On the Ball

With Richard Langley OVER the last few weeks the topic of footballing conversation has often surrounded tackling.  The well timed tackle that great players in the past have perfected seems to be fading out of today s game; to be replaced by the careless l

With Richard Langley

OVER the last few weeks the topic of footballing conversation has often surrounded tackling. The well timed tackle that great players in the past have perfected seems to be fading out of today's game; to be replaced by the careless lunge now increasingly prevalent up and down the country.

With so much riding on each game these days, we as professional footballers have a collective responsibility to show a duty of care to each other when going into 50-50 challenges. The increase in power and speed of the modern day player means that any slight misjudgement has the potential for serious injury and, no matter how much you want to win, injuring a fellow professional should be the last thing on any player's mind. Looking back at some of the tackles recently they are not much short of assault and, in some cases, have resulted in long term injury.

Unfortunately these dangerous tackles are creeping into the game from the Premier League down to the Conference where they often seem to be greeted with a cheer of encouragement from team mates and fans alike as well as managers and coaching staff. It has become almost an accepted part of the rough and tumble of the British game. Referees keep the game in check with the same laws all over the world but it seems that, in this country, the application of these laws is not as stringent as in the European leagues where the players are better protected. Consequently skill is allowed to blossom, players are allowed to develop their technical ability and there is less room for thuggish actions.


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The further down the leagues you go the worse it gets. Having watched a lot of lower league football I have found referees are becoming far too lenient when it comes to inappropriate tackles. I believe that in so doing they are giving the opportunity for some players to kick talent off the pitch with little, if any, sanction. At this level skill and technical ability is secondary to hard work, often resulting in mistimed tackles and very few completed passes. Perhaps if what is seen as unacceptable in Europe becomes unacceptable here then the talent of up and coming British youngsters will be allowed to flourish. If this misdirected aggression can be stamped out of the game the standard of football will improve.

I am not for one minute suggesting that football become a non-contact sport. What I do ask is for all concerned, particularly players and officials, to understand the difference between enthusiasm and complete recklessness.

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IF you have any questions or comments to put to Richard, you can email us at nwl.sport@archant.co.uk

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