So Danny Murphy doesn’t like us and how we play then? Well firstly can I say how totally ambivalent I am to his comments.
As professional footballers go, he is hardly a shining example of how players should conduct themselves so why exactly would anyone pay much notice to his views? They say that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones but as we saw against Fulham recently perhaps Danny simply throws footballs into opponent’s faces instead.
Football has always been a sport that is prone to knee-jerk reactions. In today’s media driven environment there will always be a phone-in show or an internet blog that will appeal to the Daily Mail reading, armchair fan. If it’s not players behaviour off the pitch or how the “big” clubs are that much more important than anyone else, this plastic breed of football fan is always ready to stick their informed tuppence worth into the mix. Normally the phone-in chat starts with the caller saying “no, unfortunately I couldn’t make it to today’s game but…” to truly rile the fan who is listening in the car at the start of a 200 mile trek home after an away defeat.
The facts are that despite Murphy’s views and a couple of highly publicised incidents, English football hasn’t suddenly turned into a dangerous sport with issues that need addressing.
Unfortunately Murphy’s comments will be lapped up by people who don’t attend live football matches and have no idea how conceding an injury time equaliser can literally ruin a proper fan’s week and make their home-life horrendous for the following seven days. The worrying thing is that perhaps the footballing authorities are now pandering to the views of satellite T.V. football fans more than the punter who turns up week in, week out. You only have to look at the ridiculous kick-off times and how they affect proper fans for evidence of this shift in power.
If the people in charge of our great game can be swayed like this then perhaps we have more to worry about Murphy’s comments than perhaps we might. It strikes me that the T.V. fan watches football as they would the X Factor. They view it purely as entertainment rather than a way of life. Real fans know that in actual fact football is about 60 minutes of dross punctuated by 30 minutes of sheer delight and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
During those 30 minutes that we all enjoy so much there is of course a fair amount of tackling and without it the game would simply not exist. Obviously there are tackles which go beyond the laws of the game which is why we have a referee and his assistants. If players do break the rules they are punished and rightly so. Sadly players do get injured and it is something that no real fan ever likes to see. However if we want to sterilise football completely so that the only way a player gets injured is when he is leapt on by his own players after scoring a goal preceded by 50 un-challenged passes then football is a sport staring into the abyss.
People talk about the need for our game to progress and move away from the typical “English mentality” but I have to ask why exactly? Football is much more than the teams who qualify for the Champions League. It is much more than seeing England do well in a major tournament. Football is about the loyal fans of a Rochdale for example who kept turning up despite their team being in the same division for over 30 years and it is about the joy they felt after finally winning promotion last season.
Real fans know football and know what it is to dedicate a vast chunk of your life to your team.
They know that the first thing they want to see is their eleven players giving everything for the shirt and making sure that the paying fan knows they are trying their hardest out there. Proper fans know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way our game is played. There are plenty of wrongs in English football that need looking at but the occasional bad tackle should not be featuring anywhere near the top of the “to do” list.
Let us hope that the lunatics don’t end up running the asylum and football can continue to be the high octane, pumped- up adrenalin ride that true fans will always want to see.