Usually pre-season brings events about as note-worthy as a weekly shop to Tesco to buy sports nutrition products, with trips to the USA or Far East being little more than a marketing tool for the club, yet after the game between Liverpool and Spurs a whole saga has erupted after yet another ill-timed challenge on Gareth Bale was made.
Bale has been subject to an increasing number of shall we say ‘dubious’ challenges as his ability has become more and more evident, and most consider this rite of passage for a player who has such talent and ability. Players like Ronaldo and Silva are fouled time and time again and like it or not just have to learn to get up and get on with it – after the obligatory card waving and moaning at the referee of course. Yet the real fall out after the challenge on Bale was due to the player making the tackle being non other than Charlie Adam, who not so long ago made an equally naughty tackle on Bale, and this time the Spurs player spoke out quite strongly about it.
Whilst I doubt any footballer will ever release as eloquent a statement after a tackle and the resulting fall out as Vincent Kompany, Bale does make a valid point when questioning the nature of the tackle in a friendly, and given the history of ill feeling between the players and some of Adam’s past on the field challenges, one has to wonder if Bale has a point.
Obviously even in a friendly players want to win, and tackles are part and parcel of the game. Some seem innocuous at first and turn out to be damaging, and some are made by players who don’t have a reputation for being dirty, such as Martin Taylor on Eduardo, but turn out to be awful challenges but devoid of malice. Of course there are those players who seem to make poor challenges a little too many times for them to be let off the hook – Ryan Shawcross is one prime example here.
Yet with the challenge on Bale, it once again raises the question of if more protection should be given to so called ‘flare’ players, in order for them to play their best and most scintillating football and really be able to shine. Think back to the 2010 World Cup final, where Holland tried in no uncertain terms to kick Spain off the field – not exactly a great spectacle for the beautiful game.
Do we really want players like Bale to be subjected to poor tackles time and time again, to the detriment of the game we are watching? I am not for a second suggesting that football becomes a non-contact sport, the tackle made by Kompany which resulted in such debate over the red card to me was not worthy of a sending off in any way, shape or form, but deliberately setting out to hurt a player is something that cannot be tolerated and has to be stopped, so why is Bale left to defend himself yet again?