Monday, February 25, 2008
Eduardo Da Silva for Arsenal (vs Manchester City), 2nd February 2008
The injury suffered by Eduardo Da Silva in the early stages of Saturday's game against Birmingham was one of those that makes almost everyone cringe in horror. The first person to react, of course, is the injured player, but pretty soon you can tell from the reactions of the other players on the pitch that something serious has happened: the frantic gestures to the sidelines, the looks of horror and, perhaps most telling of all, the looks away as the other players simply couldn't look at something so sickening. For most English football fans of a certain age, it was also the kind of injury that immediately turns the mind back to David Buust against Manchester United back in April 1996.... an injury so horrible that someone as big and tough as Peter Schmeichel was sickened and unable to look; an injury so bad that they had to delay the restart of the game whilst they mopped up the blood in the penalty area.
David Buust needed 26 operations on that injury, and never played again (although that was as much down to the MRSA infection that destroyed much of the tissue in his ankle as it was down to the original injury). Thank heavens it looks as though Eduardo has been "lucky" and is expected to be playing again in about 9 months - a far more optimistic prognosis than everyone was fearing on Saturday, although I should imagine it will be some time before the player himself considers that he has been "lucky".
Buust writes in the Guardian today about his injury and what Eduardo may face before he can think about kicking a ball again. It's an interesting article, but what's really interesting is the comments of the bloggers in response. Perhaps not surprisingly, the almost overwhelming view is one that backs Arsene Wenger's immediate reaction after the game (and subsequently retracted) that Martin Taylor should be severely punished for the tackle and should perhaps never be allowed to play the game again.
My heart goes out to Eduardo, of course it does, and I hope he has a full and rapid recovery from his injury, but this kind of overreaction seems ridiculous to me, and my immediate reaction to such a response is to actually feel sorry for Martin Taylor. Alex McLeish repeatedly said after the game that Taylor was not a malicious kind of a player, and although this isn't exactly a defence for such a horrible tackle, watching the game, I didn't feel as though there was any more malice of intent in that tackle than in hundreds of others that take place in the Premier League every week (Eduardo himself was lucky not to be sent off for a two-footed lunge at Nani in the game against Manchester Utd). Taylor goes in for the ball and Eduardo is simply too quick for him, moving the ball away just before the tackle comes in. It's clumsy and it's high, but it is not two footed and Taylor has his eye on the ball all the way. So how come he is being compared by one blogger in that thread to one of the terrorists on 9/11?
Taylor was said to be devastated after it became clear that Eduardo was seriously hurt, to the extent that McLeish suggested that if he hadn't been sent off, he wasn't sure he would have been able to continue playing. He tried to see Eduardo in hospital but was turned away as he was in surgery, and he subsequently returned and spoke to him the next day. Just because he didn't take the press with him to these visits does not mean that he does not care. Eduardo himself was incredibly phlegmatic, refusing to blame Taylor and suggesting that "It was an unfortunate situation but these things can happen in football."
Clearly Taylor was responsible for the injury, but how much blame should be attributed to him now? Should he be punished? Should he even have been shown a red card? Was the colour of the card in fact determined by the obvious severity of the injury?
I'd love to know what you think.
[incidentally, there are plenty of pictures of the actual aftermath of the tackle itself on the web, but I think we all know what happened and I'm not going to post any. If you want to see pictures of another human being in distress, then you can find them for yourself]