Holland coach Bert van Marwijk has dropped Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong from his squad for yesterday’s tackle on Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa. The Dutch boss has said: “It was wild and unnecessary.”
You mean wild and unnecessary like the tactics you employed in the World Cup final where your players constantly kicked lumps out of the superior Spanish opposition?
Now I’m not disagreeing that the tackle was wild, although there have been plenty worse, but to drop de Jong for it is completely hypocritical.
Nigel de Jong is tough, physical, ball winning midfielder. That’s his game. Bert van Marwijk had no trouble utilising this when he knew his side couldn’t outclass their opposition in the biggest game in international football did he?
While I’m not trying to defend de Jong I think Ben Arfa was incredibly unlucky to come out of that tackle the way he did. A double leg break is obviously horrendous. But it wasn’t so much the impact of the challenge that caused it. The way Ben Arfa’s standing leg was planted caused his leg to buckle under his own weight when de Jong tackled him.
There has been many a worse challenge than that where the player being tackled has got up and been fine. And of course there has been many an innocuous challenge that has seen a player injured for months on end.
The point I’m making is Bert van Marwijk can’t make his own decisions on when a strong tackle becomes too strong a tackle. For the most exciting and watched game in world football he set his team out to crunch Spain at every opportunity. A game that should have been about great entertainment between two great footballing nations became uneasy to watch.
And what’s worse, Holland came within four minutes of a penalty shoot out.
Van Marwijk is out of order; it’s hypocrisy at the highest level. And while I can’t condone de Jong’s over physical style, if I were him I’d be pretty livid.
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