Aggressive, traditional, no respect for reputation, up and at them, playing on the edge of the law, underrated and of course, not that sort of player … Just some of the terms used over the years to describe Kevin Cyril Davies, and now alongside his one “it should have been more” England cap Kevin has another achievement to be proud of, only the second player to receive 100 yellow cards in the Premier League.
Despite this somewhat dubious accolade, how often do we hear the media describe Davies as exactly what he is? A dirty player perhaps? A cheat? A thug or a footballing luddite? But the point stands, until Davies and this type of overly and unnecessarily aggressive player is driven out of the game, English football will remain in the doldrums.
An over exaggeration you may say? Let me point you to the picture of Tom Cleverley sitting wearing a protective boot, out for at least a month with ankle ligament damage. How often do English players break into the central midfield of teams like United? Those chances need to be seized and built upon, yet Cleverley’s fine start to the season is now halted.
Still, it will teach him for being a tricky midfielder; he deserved to get nailed early on. Remember the way to beat any team is just to get stuck in and hurt them. And look at the pre match quotes from dear Kevin “I faced Phil Jones at Blackburn last year and he’s a big, strong boy, so I’ll be looking to give him a going over”. Looks like Kevin found a smaller target to give a going over to during the game.
Until English football gets out of this mindset, then countless more talented English midfielders will be left with injuries from this brutish thug-like behaviour and instead of our national midfield being blessed with the technical class of Cleverley and Wilshere, it will be full of players who espouse those great British qualities such as energy, tenacity and effort, Parker, Milner and Barry perhaps. It’s worth noting, that Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas and Busquets also have those qualities but no one ever talks about them because their technical skill is the thing that wins them games and rightfully has fans and pundits purring.
The injury to Cleverley should be a lesson to English pundits and managers alike. Stop making excuses for players who can’t tackle. Despite Andy Gray finding it hilarious for 15 years, Paul Scholes not being able to tackle wasn’t funny, it was exactly the sort of behaviour that prevents England developing players with a similar gift on the ball that Scholes had. It’s about time pundits started saying it how it is. Next time Davies injures someone with a bad tackle, call him a cheat. Next time Ryan Shawcross breaks someone’s leg don’t say he’s not that sort of player.
Without this culture shift, England can look forward to continuing to chase Spanish and German shadows in major tournaments. That said aren’t we due to play Spain in a friendly soon? How about one more cap for King Kevin? I hate watching that tiki-taka football – you can’t hurt players in tackles when you’ve got the ball, it’s boring.