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Our duty of care: How can football avoid another injury like Ramsey's?
Published : 06 Mar 2010 01:04:17
Premier League football sparks into action again this weekend with the game still in shock over THAT horror injury to Aaron Ramsey last Saturday. Sportsmail asked top figures in the game what can be done to avoid another casualty... ARSENE WENGER All players should have a duty of care, and most of them fulfil it. I can understand people want to be committed and I have no problem with that. I like players who put their foot in, but it has to be with a fair intention. There is a grey area over intent. You can never prove it. There are a few tackles where you can say that the tackler should be suspended for as long as the guy is injured. But you have to prove intent. Ramsey went for the ball. I like that kind of commitment. The interesting thing in England is you can watch a game between two average sides and it is interesting because of the commitment. But the commitment demands a fair intention. Then, if an accident happens, an accident happens. I admire a great technical tackle as much as a creative pass. It is an art in itself - that means you always have your eye on the ball, never with a high foot. We've had three players this year who have had surgery as a result of tackles: Robin van Persie, Kieran Gibbs and now Ramsey. What I say is not just for Stoke or Arsenal, it is for everybody. I defend football and the values I believe are important for our club and football. That doesn't mean we are angels and everyone else is the devil. It is for everybody. And we have a responsibility with our comments before a game as much as after it. If somebody comes out before the game and says 'we have to kick them', they should not play in that game. Comments after a game provoke ego injuries, comments before provoke physical injuries. Ramsey will come back, but you never know what the psychological impact will be. Some players are never the same anymore. SIR ALEX FERGUSON I phoned Ryan Shawcross in the week. I know the boy because we had him here for some time as a kid. There's not a more honest boy in the world and I'm pleased that everyone has recognised that it was an honest challenge. I think even Arsenal do, or I hope they do. He was pilloried by the Arsenal players after it, but he was distraught and you'd think that would have registered with Arsenal. It didn't and the boy has had to carry that burden. But he can hold his head up - he's not that kind of player. You could see that Arsene Wenger was tense and uptight afterwards. These moments of emotion can really affect you. He was obviously feeling for the player and I'd be exactly the same. DAVID MOYES At Everton we've lost three players - Fellaini, Anichebe and Phil Neville - to long-term injuries over the past year after tackles we were not happy about. It is always going to be hard calling a tackle, and it isn't helped by the number of players who go to ground far too easily. There is nothing wrong with a hard tackle, it is an integral part of the game. Equally, players should be mindful of the possible consequences before they go steaming in. It's all well and good being sorry afterwards, but it's too late then. Give a tackle everything you've got, but do your utmost to make sure it is correctly timed. For all the serious injuries we have seen, I honestly don't think there is one player in the modern game who goes out with the intention of deliberately hurting an opponent. Maybe there used to be. Thankfully, those days have gone, but we still get reminders of the damage that can be done when a tackle is mistimed. ROY KEANE Tackling is a massively important part of the game. If it was all about 11 skilful players out there, it wouldn't be the same game. Nobody wants to see players getting injured, but it's part of sport. There's an edge to top-level sport, an element of danger. Why do you think football is more popular than snooker? As much as I admire skill, a good tackle can lift fans off their seats. It was a part of the game I enjoyed, whether I was making tackles or receiving them. If anyone thinks players are out to break legs at Arsenal, it is a crazy notion. I can understand Arsene Wenger's frustration but we can't take away the physical side of the game. If you ask me to go back over Arsenal teams of the past 10 to 15 years, I can remember playing against people like Martin Keown and Patrick Vieira. They both liked a tackle, if I remember it right. RAY WILKINS Generally players do respect opponents. I wish I was a midfielder nowadays. The pitches are much better and you don't get kicked up in the air. But if England had come into line many years ago with Europe, in that the raising of a stud is a free kick and a yellow card, then I'm sure we would have limited the amount of problems we find ourselves having. RAFA BENITEZ The Premier League is a physical league and if we want to continue in this way then a lot depends on referees. The fact is that we have far too many serious injuries in this country, and as a manager you have to be worried about that. The people at the top of the game, those who run the game in this country, need to analyse what is best for the game. ROBERTO MARTINEZ Referees should be stronger and look to protect the flair players more. The rules should help the attacking players. But a tackle does not have to be malicious to be dangerous. If it is mistimed, you can still put someone's career on hold for nine months. A broken leg because you are trying to be a creative player is too much of a risk. The rules should be stricter. MARTIN O'NEILL What I think that the referees have done very well is that the two-footed challenge is outlawed. You are pretty much getting automatic red cards for that. If you are jumping off the ground with two feet in the air into someone, then there is a fair intention of hurting someone. A duty of care does exist. It might be unspoken, but it does exist. HARRY REDKNAPP Players deserve a duty of care. I think with Shawcross, you only have to look at his reaction when he came off. He was distraught by what had happened ... not because he'd been sent off but because the boy was hurt and he cared. MICK McCARTHY Obviously there should be a duty of care, but if we are talking about last week specifically, I don't think it was malicious. Ryan Shawcross is a young man trying to win the football, not to hurt someone. But you are talking about fine lines. You ask players to compete. Accidents can happen in any contact sport. It's sad, but that's the truth of it. BRIAN LAWS I like to see players tackle fairly but strongly. It shows they want the ball more than the opposition. I think teams do prepare differently against Arsenal because they're a fantastic side. Teams have got more into their faces, got closer to them and tackled more against them, but I've not seen any team that's deliberately gone out there to try to hurt anybody. ROY HODGSON Do I believe that players have a duty of care to their fellow professionals out on the pitch? The answer is yes. P.S. At least Arsene Wenger can console himself with the fact that his kids are up against a defender in Burnley's Leon Cort who has not been booked in 188 League games! 'Nobody has ever moaned about me pulling out of a tackle.' he said, 'but it's true I don't get booked often.' Incidentally, the 30-year-old was last carded while at Southend - back in April 2004. 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