Massaido Haidara is the latest in a long line of players to have suffered a broken leg as a result of a dangerous, mistimed tackle.
The Frenchman, a new recruit at Newcastle after signing in January from French side Nancy, was taken out by Wigan Athletic’s Callum McManaman.
The facts of the case are vital to state first of all. McManaman had a chance of winning the ball – he had a right to go for it. McManaman also got the ball before he took out his opponent. However, McManaman’s method was the problem. He used such force that he was not in control of his body, it was reckless, and he took both man and ball in one fell swoop, assaulting the Frenchman so viciously that he needed to go off.
There will be many who say ‘but hold on, he won the ball!’ That would be to miss the point. A dangerous foul is a dangerous foul. Whether you win the ball or not is a complete irrelevance if you are not in control and the force used is dangerous.
Others may claim that he is not that type of player. Of course no-one is suggesting McManaman went in to hurt Haidara. All we are suggesting is that he failed to engage his brain in doing so, thus endangering an opponent. So when people say ‘he’s not that type of player’, it is not exactly clear what they mean by that. Do they mean he is not the type of player to hurt someone on purpose? That he is not the type of player to hurt someone accidentally? Or that he is not the type of player to launch himself into dangerous tackles?
The evidence would be that yes, he is the type of player who launches himself into dangerous tackles and so to all intents and purposes, he is that type of player. Just like Ryan Shawcross, a serial leg breaker, or Martin Taylor, the former Birmingham defender. There are too many of those types of players, particularly in the Premier League, where the rules are only really applied when a serious injury is sustained. Earlier this season Vincent Kompany launched himself into a dangerous tackle on Jack Wilshere, for which he was sent off. The red card was later rescinded on appeal, as Kompany had won the ball and Wilshere was not injured. In doing that, the FA made a big mistake. Kompany’s winning of the ball was an irrelevance. It was dangerous.
Had McManaman not injured Haidara yesterday, no one would probably have said anything publicly afterwards. It would have become an irrelevant footnote .Yet the danger was there and was real and he needed to be punished for it. Thankfully he probably will now but the three game ban is clearly an insufficient deterrent, players continue to throw themselves into brain dead challenges and endanger opponents on far too regular a basis.
Until that changes, then unfortunately Haidara is unlikely to be the last player to suffer a broken leg through the incompetence of authorities and the brain dead delinquency of an opponent.