Analysis: Was it a 'fantastic tackle' or 'should the referee have said something earlier'?
Joe Gomez is set for six weeks on the sidelines after a Ben Mee challenge fractured his leg (photo: Getty Images)

Analysis: Was it a 'fantastic tackle' or 'should the referee have said something earlier'?

Where do we stand with tackling in football?

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

'No foul but Joe Gomez is injured.'

Those were the words of Jurgen Klopp as he debated the the challenge manufactured by Ben Mee that fractured the leg of the young Liverpool defender.

Even though he suggested the challenge did not warrant a free-kick, Klopp believes that such a tackle should not have even be made.

Do footballers need more protection as Klopp suggests or would we 'rather see physical football' as his counterpart Sean Dyche argued?

'Burnley had this specific plan'

It is an argument that has been raging since the comments were made at the post-match press conference. Klopp claimed, 'the challenges from the beginning, the sliding tackling on that wet ground, I really think the referee should have said something earlier.'

But is that the role of the referee? Surely he would be punishing such challenges if deemed dangerous enough with free-kicks, yellow cards and/or red cards?

Klopp suggested to the BBC that 'Burnley had this specific plan, they wanted to be really aggressive,' despite only ten fouls and one yellow card being given against the hosts.

He also claimed, 'the injury threat is massive. That was hard...the first three or four challenges everybody likes it. I know that. It's part of football but it led to the situation (Gomez injury).'

'There were some excellent tackles'

However, Dyche responded by saying 'there were some excellent tackles. I think Ben Mee’s was a fantastic tackle.'

He added, 'I would rather see physical football than cheating football. Definitely. I’d be amazed if there are fans out there who don’t agree. I don’t believe that’s the way football wants to be.

Our lads went about their business terrifically last night and everyone else apart from the manager seemed to agree.'

So, who is right?

Embed from Getty Images

The analysis

Both managers seem to agree that Mee's challenge was a fair one on Gomez, despite the unfortunate resulting injury.

And tackles are exactly what teams struggling at the foot of the table need to produce. Clubs such as Burnley cannot rely on quality alone against the bigger teams and need a physical edge to 'rough up' their opponents. Stoke City overachieved for several years in the top-flight thanks to such an approach.

Football is a contact sport despite tackles seemingly disintegrating out of the game. Everyone wants to see silky football, and dangerous tackles should be protected against, but not to the point that such an art becomes extinct. Players take up the sport knowing there is the possibility of injury, as is the case with any contact sport.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the majority of complainers are bosses of teams that regularly ply their trade on the European stages. The ones with the more naturally gifted players when it comes to flair and creativity.

The conclusion: Klopp could learn from Burnley

But perhaps such an argument underpins the difference between the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. In Fernandinho, Pep Guardiola has a master of the craft. For all of City's impressive football, whenever they lose the ball, the midfield enforcer is on hand to break up opposing attacks.

How many other top sides have a player like the Brazilian?

Dyche concluded, 'I was a Liverpool fan growing up in the 70s and when I grew up watching them, they had a fantastic side, of skill, will, demand and a physical edge.'

Does Jurgen need to be more physical with his approach?

 

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