Aaron Ramsey's Injury Is a Reminder of the Physical Side of Football

illya mclellan@illya mclellan @illbehaviorNZSenior Analyst IMarch 1, 2010

PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 30:  Steve Finnan of Portsmouth challenges Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Portsmouth and Arsenal at Fratton Park on December 30, 2009 in Portsmouth, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

While it is a terrible thing for a player to be heavily injured in the way talented Cardiff City product and current Arsenal player Aaron Ramsey was in the premier league match at the Brittania stadium by Ryan Shawcross, in some ways it is a part of football that people have forgotten about. It is chosen not to be acknowledged anymore as it is the ugly side of the beautiful game.

The truth is, some very good players have also made some very bad tackles. I am sure you can think of at least one such incident. Van Persie, anyone?

This sort of injury was very much a part of the game in the bad old days, as players would throw themselves about the pitch like maniacs trying to stop those of them who were to fast and too skillful to be stopped by conventional means.

Luckily for most involved, in the game now the rules have been tightened up and there is zero tolerance of obvious malicious fouling.

The problem with the incident involving Shawcross and Ramsey is that it was not a malicious tackle. The ball was there and Shawcross had just won it from another Arsenal player before it rolled out ahead of him and he and Ramsey both moved towards it at pace.

In the split second that followed, both players converged on the spot and Shawcross was obviously attempting to kick the ball, Ramsey, unfortunately, made contact with the ball just enough for it to clear the area Shawcross was kicking and as a result his leg was where Shawcross had moments ago seen the ball to be.

The speed at which this all took place negates from the notion that Shawcross was intentionally out to injure Ramsey. Shawcross was doing his best to fight for the ball and secure possession for his team. This inevitably involves a lot of running against a team like Arsenal and because of the speed with which Arsenal move the ball, a lot of running at pace. 

The real problem in the incident occurs when Ramsey reaches his foot forward to touch the ball, putting his leg into a weakened physical state and not a state with which to cope with the force of a tackle like the one Shawcross had committed to.

Therefore, the Arsenal player had opened up a little to a strong physical force coming from an opposing direction while he himself was also travelling at high speed. In the video you can see that just before they meet, Ramsey looks to have extended his foot to touch the ball forward.

This is where the idea that it was malicious comes into play because people think that because of the gathering speed of Shawcross, he intended to harm the player he was confronting.

But when he decided to make the challenge and make it hard, the ball was there, and it looked as though he would make it and he had fully committed to a typically hard midfield challenge. All of a sudden, the ball had been touched ahead and was gone, you know the rest.

In a football match, there are 22 players running around at speed and using their bodies as weapons and tools for victory over an opponent. It is a battle, it is a modern form of warfare that appeals to those primal instincts in the human psyche involved with dominance and power and the desire to prove prowess and superiority over others.

It is also fun and extremely enjoyable to open oneself up to these primal energies and an entire industry and legend revolves around the game.

In such a physical confrontation as football, the forces involved are at times comparable to the power and ferocity that was generated in the heat of pitched battle between adversaries wielding swords, spears and other such brutal implements.

Also, at the very highest levels of the game now, there are elements of speed and power that are beyond anything that the average player could comprehend, even those who played to a reasonable level at one stage or another. At the top, it is so fast that anything mistimed can have ugly consequences.

As was the case with the incident involving the two players at Stoke City's Brittania Stadium.

There is no conspiracy.

This notion of a conspiracy is something to do with Wenger's persecution complex. He is a brilliant manager and has given the English game as much as his countryman Eric Cantona. But to voice idea's that there is a conspiracy against Arsenal because his players have had bad injuries is totally preposterous.

A lot of comment has also suggested that Stoke City are a thuggish team who play brutal football. This is also not true as Tony Pulis has actually put together a good footballing side that can compete with the best teams in the league as they proved recently in beating Manchester City, who recently disposed of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The game is a physical confrontation, and in the case of the EPL, it is an intense physical confrontation, where a man's entire career can rest on his team getting the three points on offer.

The sort of pressure involved is phenomenal and leads to moments like the one that has left Ramsey looking at months of rehabilitation. But this is the game, these incidents are as much a part of it as the scoring and saving of goals. In a physical confrontation, there are always people who get hurt.

But labelling this incident as malicious and Ryan Shawcross as a malicious player is a fallacy as the moments leading to the tackle were at high speed and tackles like that are part of the game around the world. Luckily for Ramsey, he is young enough to recover from this and also has the best care money can buy available to him.

To start to wail and moan about the horror and torment that has befallen him is a bit rich considering he plays a game for a living and kids his age all over the world are being killed every day by war, disease and hunger.

He has a broken leg, it will get better, he is not dead, he still retains his limbs. He will play again.


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