Glenn Whelan does it again - So are referees tackling the wrong issues?

The Stoke City midfielder went in on what could have been seen as yet another two-footed challenge this weekend and got away with it. While he is not certainly alone are we getting confused about the important issues that need stamping out of the Premier League?

Stoke City are a team that divide opinion based on your preference of footballing styles. For those who prefer the continental tiki-taka passing style that has become the contemporary preference Stoke City are your arch-nemesis. For those who like their football played in something indicative of a more ‘English’ style full of no-nonsense play, direct football and tough tackling than a trip to the magnificent atmosphere at The Britannia may be right up your street.

Me personally; I am split down the middle. While I love the passing football and what-not I am not keen on the general rolling around and pansy-like dalliances of footballers who appear to be shot by invisible snipers on a weekly basis. I sometimes wonder if they would react in such a way in the local cash-and-carry if someone bashed them with a trolley.

However one player who has caught my eye in recent weeks for The Potters is Glenn Whelan. The Irish international is a pivotal member of the Stoke side and not just for the type of characteristics you expect from a Tony Pulis player. He is in fact one of the best passers of the ball in the Stoke set-up but it is not his passing range that has caught my attention recently; but rather his style of tackling.

First I direct you to this video…

I do not think even the most stringent of Stoke fans could argue that this was truly awful challenge clearly worthy of a red-card. There was little attempt to play the ball and the decision by the increasingly erratic Howard Webb not to award such punishment for the foul play was just as baffling as the idea of what was going on in Whelan’s head at the time.

This weekend he went in to a similar, but admittedly less dangerous, challenge with Mikele Leigertwood of Reading and rightly got an earful from the giant Antiguan.

I want to play devil’s advocate on the issue because while some tackles are recklessly dangerous others are the impact of a tough tackling and strong willed midfield player and losing those from the game would be disastrous. Whelan is certainly one of those and while other may disagree having a team like Stoke in the league is great entertainment. On their day they can beat anyone who can’t cope with their style of play and Whelan is a huge part of that.

However it is indicative of a bigger problem in the English culture when players like Gareth Bale and Ashley Young are being vilified for some of their more simulated falls to the ground but people who consistently make tackles that could end careers are not. It is a slightly backward concept.

Everybody loves a tackle in England but there is a line that can be crossed in all sports when it comes to taking things too far and Whelan has got away with a couple on recent occasions and I am sure he is not the only one; before people think this is another ‘’Stoke City Witchunt’.

So what do you think; should diving or reckless tackling be at the top of the referees priority list?

images:© Ronnie Macdonald

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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