Eduardo da Silva vs. Martin Taylor: Tackling the Real Issues

Simon MartinSenior Writer IFebruary 24, 2008

Eduardo da Silva will probably never play football again.

Having broken his leg in no less than four places (the fibula, twice on the ankle, and once on the back of the shin), his injuries were so horrific that it is rumoured that he is lucky to still have both legs this evening.

I personally have stayed behind the scenes, keeping quiet for a while, checking the replay on my Sky+ box and making some notes and observations.

Finally I have formulated an opinion on the matter: Birmingham VS Arsenal, the 2-2, and most importantly, THAT challenge.

To the crux of the matter: Martin Taylor did intend to tackle Eduardo in such a fashion. He fully intended a crude, malicious challenge. What he did not intend was for it to backfire in such a fashion.

You see, Mr Taylor is an old boy of the school for hard knock defenders—shake 'em up to screw 'em up. He fully intended to put in a hard challenge on Eduardo, in order to put him off his game. What happened, instead of the player getting up shakily from the ground and having a quiet match, was nothing short of horrific. 

The tackle itself, in the replay—both in slow motion and normal play—is easy to break down. Taylor intended to tackle Eduardo hard, pushing his foot over the ball, and knocking him to the ground in such a way that he a) did not give away a free kick and b) put fear into his opponent.

However, as has been the case with so many bad tackles this season: his studs were up. This is factor number one.

Factor number two: Eduardo is wearing slightly longer studs (with moulded blades intended to grip a wet or damp playing surface better), and therefore his leg was acting as an anchor—the studs of Taylor's boot caught his leg, which crumpled under the weight of the heavy challenge. The rest is too grisly to describe.

Yet I have nothing but sympathy for Taylor. He is as much a victim as Eduardo is. That is because it is clear that he has not been taught to tackle properly.

It was only as much as ten years ago, that PE teachers across the land taught how to tackle a football safely, with as much consideration for the opposition as you had your own team. Studs down, foot pointed to ground, a sweeping motion, played to either side of the football: it must never be from behind, especially in a sliding tackle, and in a sliding tackle, only one foot must be used, and its studs must be pointed to the ground.

How much the game has lost! How much society and the football community is to blame for this situation!

We find excuses for our players—it's in everything: players were taught how to jump with their arms down as far back now as the eighties, to avoid the elbows and knocks to the head we see today!

Now? The player needed the leverage.

A good jumper doesn't need to use his arms. He is not a long jumper, or a high jumper—where there is only one person who can get hurt: himself. There are twenty two other men on the field (referee included) and the players need to recognise that peoples' livelihoods are at stake here.

Respect and consideration for your fellow man—your fellow professional!

This is why—back when they were taught the etiquette of football—when football was just a game, and when all that mattered was that you played your best—this is why they taught it! Now?!

Now, the game is a business, and you must win at all costs.

Even if it costs a young, talented football player, his livelihood.

For shame.