It may only be pre-season, but one of football’s greatest modern-day debates is rumbling on and it’s not even on this side of the Atlantic. A lot has been made of Charlie Adam’s tackle on Gareth Bale after the Scottish international allegedly slayed the Welshman to within an inch of his ankle ligaments as Spurs and Liverpool clashed on pre-season tour in America.
After big reactions from both Bale and new manager AVB about the reckless/unsportsmanlike nature of Adam’s tackle, the challenge has been subject to a lot of debate from football fans and pundits everywhere. Some say it wasn’t even that bad and is just part of the game and Bale should just get on with it. Whilst others say it was way over the top, especially in a pre-season friendly as it could have easily caused a serious injury
There has been no love lost between these two in the past, Adam has a long standing relationship with Gareth Bale’s left ankle. After the tough tackling midfielder put Bale out for 3 months with a stamping challenge whilst he was at Blackpool – you can see why Bale’s reaction maybe was a bit over the top. The media of course lapped this up, making as much news and reaction from it as possible and that is their prerogative, but it took the focus away from one of the major points that this incident throws up – whether diving can be necessary.
I am not concerned whether the most recent tackle was harsh or not – that has been done to death as the story rumbles on in the newspapers full of Bale’s comments and Adam’s lack of an apology. But Bale is one of a handful of world footballing stars who have been previously criticized for diving, a trait that he has himself admitted:
“When you have got people flying in at you all the time, it’s not really diving, you’re just trying to get out of the way of the challenges. If you stand there you’re going to get a whack. At the end of the day I would rather dive than get hurt.”
This latest incident is a perfect example of why diving DOES have a place in modern day football. What would you do if you knew a player was coming in from behind or flying in from the side? Would you stand and ride the challenge with a risk of being injured or would you “dive” out of the way and escape with your ankle/knee intact? Would you pre-empt a challenge and dive if a player who has previously caused you injury was flying in at you?
These horror challenges are becoming more and more apparent as players continue to be quicker, as does the game, and some players just cannot cope with players who have the speed, change of pace and dribbling ability of players such as Ronaldo, Messi and Bale as they move up through the gears.
Midfield enforcers in the mold of Roy Keane, Claude Makelele, Patrick Vieira, Rino Gattuso and Mark van Bommel may be a dying breed, but they were master craftsmen when it came to tackling and the odd calculated foul. But the game has changed and is more focused on quick, short passing with athletes who can physically dominate matches with their pace and power – in the case of players with limited physical attributes the mentality now is 100% you are going to get the ball or your taking the man with little regard for the consequences of the opponent, as long as it breaks up the play, because at the end of the day it is results that matter.
So is Gareth Bale justified in saying “I would rather dive than be hurt”? For me, he is starting to when you see the likes of limited players (without the ball) like Charlie Adam dishing out whatever they can to stop an oppositions threat.
I dislike diving to win a penalty or make something look worse than it is and I do not want to rid the game of contact or good solid challenges and the physical side, but players who are not quick enough or thoughtful enough are breeding a justification for a new diving/avoidance culture.
As a fan I want to see the best players playing week-in-week-out and more selfishly I want to see those players plying their trade in England. If players have to dive to avoid challenges or injury then I am all for it and I am not surprised players feel they need to do it to prolong their careers. Bale may have overreacted to Adam’s tackle, but the point needed to be made, it is just a pity the real issues were overshadowed.
It is still early days in this being accepted and ‘to dive or not to dive?’ is still very much the question.
Do you think diving should be acceptable in football if it is to avoid injury or bad tackles? Should players be punished for it in the same way someone dives to win a penalty or get someone sent off? We want you opinion so leave it below or for some live debate on the subject you can find us on Twitter and Facebook, so get involved.