Olly Dickinson: “Callum McManaman won the ball”

Let me start by saying that its always a sad sight when a player has to be stretchered off a football pitch.

I’m a Leeds United fan and believe me I detest Manchester United, but never in a million years would I want to see a United player be stretchered off after suffering any form of injury. My heart goes out to Massadio Haidara for any injury he has suffered in what I will be the first to admit is a poor challenge by Callum McManaman. If Mark Halsey sees it, its a red card offence a 3 game ban and a nice little fine at least. This kind of tackle cannot be allowed to continue in the modern game. What worries me is the way its has been portrayed and discussed in the media and in public.

However, and trust me, there are a few however in this little debacle, several things have disturbed me in the playing out of post-match events. The best way to go through this is point by point.

Firstly, lets analyse the tackle itself.

Now no-one in the world, no matter how much of a die hard Newcastle fan they are can deny that the Wigan man wins the ball, taking it off Haidara. Its here that my first problem lies. The number of fans who have attempted to portrait this as some kind of cowardly off the ball attack on a player is getting ridiculous. It was a sporting incident, a terrible consequence of a full blooded tackle, which once again let it be said, won the ball.

Now I appreciate that you cannot in this day and age go into challenges with a force that was perhaps acceptable in the past. Referee’s are so quick to show red cards for seemingly fair challenges that its got to the point where the game is losing touch a little. McManaman’s tackle when played at full speed, in a game, looks hard, perhaps a little over the top, but I have to say, my first impression, and that of several of the people around me at the time was that he’d taken the ball and that there had been some sort of coming together. It was only once replays were shown that we realised the extent of this coming together.

This is point two.

Over the last week the British public have been borderline indoctrinated with still images of Haidara’s leg bowing under the force of the tackle, or of slow motion replays from angles which are unavailable to the referee.I ask honestly, seeing the challenge, at full speed, from the angle that Mark Halsey did, do you produce a red card? Even a yellow? Or do you see the ball pop out of a tackle and a player go down as so many do far too often in the modern game?

Supportive: Wigan gaffer, Roberto Martinez, has publicly backed McManaman

Point three is the reaction of the Newcastle players who saw the incident.

There was very little on the pitch reaction from anyone. Yes John Carver lost his cool at half time, but that is after he’s had the luxury of seeing a replay on the touchline, doubtless in slow motion, from a new angle. Generally speaking when a bad tackle goes in, someone, somewhere from the opposition will react, but no one did. There was no fighting, no pushing, from the limited lip reading I’ve done, no indication that any Newcastle player had an serious grievance with the way in which they had seen the tackle.

Point four is the reaction of some Newcastle and some football fans.

I mean really, get a grip, please. Before you post something, think, do you play football yourself? Have you ever kicked a ball in anger in competition other than in your gym kit? If the answer is no then your opinion is null and void, not in general “He’s a good player” or “I think I’d have played so-un-so instead of so-un-so today” but in terms of the blood and thunder of a competitive game. Also do you know Callum Mcmanaman? Are you a clinical psychologist? If the answer to either of these is no, then do not post stupid comments such as “You can tell its intention, look at his face” or “He’s a dirty player, there was intent there”. Was there really? Well if you can tell that and can prove it then please, step forwards, otherwise, shut up, sit down and carry on eating your pie and peas, reading the Sunday Sport and swilling the dregs of your £1.79 pint in your local. Please note, this is not me saying it’s not a challenge full of intent, but lets be honest, Roy Keane on Alf Inge Halland is a challenge with intent in it. This was a terrible, horrible accident.

Twitter rage: Some Newcastle fans took to the social networking site to vent their anger

Point five, I’ve seen one tweet which said its a “F*****g disgrace that The FA haven’t punished Mcmanaman.”

No its not, it’s the rules. On this occasion one of the match officials, which can be the ref, the two linesmen and the fourth official, said they had seen the incident, and deemed that it did not need a punishment at the time. So agree or disagree, unfortunately its the rules.

To summarise, this challenge should have been spotted, it should have been punished and it should have been dealt with at the time. The reaction of some Newcastle fans has been embarrassing in my opinion. The way in which the tackle has been overplayed has been scandalous. The idea that it was a challenge that was meant to hurt, injure or in some way ruin another players career is something however that really disturbs me. People need to sit back, think and consider before they comment, or else they get it hopelessly wrong.

Written By