Mauricio Pochettino was the Argentinian defender who infamously felled Michael Owen in Sapporo at the 2002 World Cup, allowing David Beckham to seal a narrow victory from the spot. And although Moyes would certainly not be complaining if ref Neil Swarbrick awarded his men a pivotal penalty this evening, the Blues boss would like the see the official and his colleagues help revive the dying art of tackling. As a former defender himself, Moyes shares the sense of sadness at how the famously physical element of British football is being erased by most tackles being considered automatic fouls in the Premier League – highlighted as Vincent Kompany’s red card for a faultless tackle on Jack Wilshere last weekend, or even Jack Rodwell’s challenge on Luis Suarez at Goodison last year.
“There is a change in the game, the emphasis is on less physical contact but not every tackle is a foul, and not every foul is a booking,” says Moyes as he prepares his Champions League-chasing side for the visit to the South coast.
“I actually think the referees know that but the crowd plays a big part. Every time a player goes down you get a big shout from the crowd. Maybe the refs need to turn around and say they won’t be giving everything.
“It’s part of the British game people have enjoyed over the years, that toughness. People will keep playing and refs wave play on, that was always part of it. You wanted to be tough and carry on. Now it’s turned the way were you want to get an advantage for your team maybe? It’d be good if the referees tried to halt that a bit.”
Moyes admits the new anti-contact culture which has developed has an affect on how he coaches his defenders.
“I think it does impact on your coaching,” he says.
“There are technically gifted players coming in which is great, and we want to encourage that but that means if they’re better on the ball, with better control the way you intercept or tackle needs to change.