View For The South – Time To Reflect

Posted on March 1, 2008 
Filed Under Articles By Bazza

Massive apologies to Bazza who sent me this article on Tuesday. I only checked my email today and have posted it as soon as receiving it. Yet another view on Martin Taylor, that tackle, Arsene Wenger and Eduardo.

I consider myself a very lucky man after what I witnessed last week. On Wednesday believe it or not I was privileged to attend the AC Milan – Arsenal game at the Emirates as the guest of a good friend who knowing my love of football invited me along as her guest as her sister was unable to go. After a beautiful three course meal I watched the game which as you all know was a 0 – 0 draw but the passing and movement from both sides especially in the second half when the tempo increased was sublime and I could only reflect on the fact that my team will never be that good! When you see the facilities at a ground like the Emirates and the standard of football on offer it beats me when fans of the top four sides ring up BBC 606 and complain. I hasten to add this does not apply to the Gunners as much as certain teams north of our hallowed turf.

On the way back to my home in Surrey on the train my thoughts played forward to our forthcoming fixture against Arsenal at St Andrews. Adebeyor had given the Milan centre-halves a torrid time, young Walcott terrorised the full back when he came on late as a substitute, Fabregas, although not at his imperious best had delighted with the assuredness of touch and range of pass. Alexander Hleb played beautifully and looked cool in control of the ball and graceful off it and I dreaded to think what was in store for us. My heart hoped that the Arsenal that played in the FA Cup against Manchester United or in the league game earlier in the season against Middlesborough would turn up but I suspected we were unlikely to be that fortunate. In my head I could see only defeat and it was just a matter of the margin.

Saturday morning arrived and as is my usual ritual on a match day, I drank my coffee out of a Birmingham City mug and was relieved to spy no less than two magpies in my garden out of the kitchen window whom I saluted with a flourish wishing both Mr and Mrs Magpie well! My youngest son grudgingly arose, ate breakfast while I filled the car with petrol and having donned the shirts of the faithful we betook ourselves in the direction of the M3 on the first leg of our journey north for the 12.45 kick off. (Football should be played at 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon in my opinion!)

We were fortunate with the traffic and arrived in our seats just in time to take part in the minute’s applause for Len Boyd. The match started and suddenly a red card! Two minutes gone for heaven’s sake – what has happened? Naturally the horrible injury to the young brilliant Croatian international striker Eduardo has been graphically shown in the media despite the Satellite TV channel televising the game showing restraint in refusing to replay the tackle in slow motion for the masses. However, it was shown on MotD in the evening albeit only once but just in case there was any doubt about the severity of the trauma the newspapers on Sunday and Monday have more than made up for the commendable initial censoring. The ghoulish in all of us gets the better of most of us in the end doesn’t it?

For those of you that don’t know I happen to be medically qualified and have had some experience of caring for people with such awful injuries and my initial view was that it was a distal, compound fracture of the tibia and fibula of the left leg which for a number of reasons do badly because of the damage not only to the bone which has a relatively reduced blood supply at that level as opposed to the same bones further up the leg but to the soft tissues particularly the skin overlying the fracture. It since appears that the injury is a little lower than that and the compound trauma is to the ankle joint. It is difficult to say which of the scenarios is worse but on balance Eduardo is perhaps slightly better off with the latter but make no mistake about it, the injury is still very serious and potentially career threatening despite the optimistic newspaper reports this morning which assume that the injury will heal and recovery progress without complication which is a huge assumption at this stage. Like every right minded football fan in the country I hope and pray that Eduardo will make a fantastic recovery and we will all have a further opportunity of watching this fabulously talented young man grace the Premier League and the international stage once more.

What of Martin Taylor? He must be devastated to have caused such harm to a fellow professional and I have considerable concerns regarding his future. How is he going to react the next time he has to commit to a tackle? Half-hearted attempts to win the ball have no place at the level he is playing at presently and it remains to be seen whether he has the mental strength to put this deeply upsetting incident to the back of his mind and play a dominant role in our quest for survival. He is needed at this time given the state of our central defensive resources. One thing that I am glad about is that Arsene Wenger has retracted his original statement that Tiny should never play again after that tackle. He was clearly angry and upset as we all were and his reaction was in some ways understandable. However, if that philosophy was to be applied to every X-rated tackle we have all witnessed throughout the football league there would be some notable absentees in the professional ranks! There have been far worse challenges this season which have fortunately not resulted in serious fractures and the things that can be said about Tiny’s tackle are that he attempted to win the ball, he challenged from a close position, he did not go in with two feet and he didn’t take a dirty great run up before a feet first lunge. It was mistimed; it was clumsy and it was crude but Eduardo was too quick and skilful and that was his undoing on this occasion. I suggest that a tenth of a second either way and the ball would either have been won or there would have been a free kick awarded and we would have continued with eleven versus eleven. As it was, however unintentional the outcome of the challenge, the referee had little option but to dismiss the defender when he saw Eduardo’s leg snap like a twig.

The Arsenal players were clearly affected by the incident as demonstrated by their performance in the first half but credit has to be given to the Blues players who worked overtime to deny Arsenal space and time to weave their magic. In many ways, Blues deserved the lead given them by the free kick beautifully dispatched by McFadden and it is somewhat churlish to suggest that it wasn’t a foul because McFadden had lost control of the ball. Regardless of whether he had or he hadn’t Flamini still backed into him and pulled him to the ground so it was still a foul. After half time we were overrun by Arsenal who decided to up the tempo. Having had chance to review the equaliser on MotD I have changed my original view that Maik Taylor was fouled by Adebeyor. The latter jumped legitimately for the ball; Taylor attempted to punch and didn’t get there. The challenge was therefore fair and the goal sound. The second resulted from a mistake from Ridgewell and they are mistakes that are mounting up this season I’m afraid. Lovely finish from Walcott and I thought we were going to get avalanched at that stage.

What has got lost in all the footage about the injury to Eduardo is how magnificent Birmingham City’s players were on Saturday considering that they played the whole game with ten men against the best side in the land and yet having gone behind, dug in and scraped a point out of it! It was a truly magnificent performance but we were very lucky. The award of the penalty I thought at the time was harsh. It later transpired that my initial feeling that Clichy may have played the ball was proved on replay. However, the defender has only himself to blame for going to sleep at a vital moment. The challenge was clumsy and we have been long overdue a bad one to go in our favour for heaven knows we have had some pretty abysmal decisions go against us this season. However, we were doubly lucky when the referee failed to give a clear penalty against us for shirt pulling about a minute before. What on earth Nafti was thinking of when he grasped Adebeyor’s shirt is beyond me especially as he was running away from goal and presented no immediate danger? I hope Big Eck delivers the hairdryer treatment to Nafti for that one! Maik Taylor was fantastic in the second half and we have the post to thank for saving us when Taylor couldn’t. Fortunate or otherwise Blues deserved their point and I am delighted with the result as I am sure all fellow noses are. However, as a final caveat I will say this:

I would much rather have lost the game if it could have finished with Eduardo’s leg intact!



One Response to “View For The South – Time To Reflect”

  1. hatton2008 on March 5th, 2008 6:11 pm

    would u sacrifice that point if it meant we were relegated?

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