Wilfried Zaha and bad tackles; does he have a point?
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha found himself in the headlines this week, following a passionate outburst regarding horrendous tackles coupled with their respective punishments.
Zaha's problem came in regards to the colour of the card being produced. Huddersfield Town's Mathias Jorgensen was given a yellow for a fairly innocuous tackle on the Palace winger, but I think the general consensus was that the referee made the correct decision. If you start handing out red cards for that, then there would be a sending off in practically every fixture...
With that said, the 25-year-old Zaha has been on the receiving end of some awful challenges in the past (see Marcos Rojo, December 2016). The tackle on him from Etienne Capoue a month or so ago was pretty shocking also.
In these situations, I always feel the referee is an extremely tough predicament. They have one opportunity to view the incident that no doubt flashes by so quickly. We, as fans, have the benefit of multiple replays, at various angles, in slow motion. This is another call for VAR week-in-week-out, but that's an argument for another day entirely.
As for Zaha, he understandably lost his cool following the Jorgensen foul and he himself picked up a booking. In these situations, it's so easy to lose your cool and obviously, things boiled over during his post-match press conference.
Bringing it into the public eye is certainly a positive. The referees will now be looking out for these incidents more often. I'm just not sure Zaha has gone about it in the correct way...
Berating, basically calling out the referee is never fair. The man in the middle is doing the best job he can. On the day, it was Lee Mason with the whistle. Do you think he'll now have that tackle in the back of his mind from this point going forward? Absolutely. Referees are supposed to treat each incident individually. They are only human, though, this Zaha situation will always remain in the back of his mind. That's not fair.
I think Zaha is well within his rights. It tends to affect the skilful, quick-footed, clever players more than others. Obviously, it's harder to win the ball cleanly from these guys. Player protection has to be the number one priority. It's these world-class athletes that puts bums on seats. Nobody wants to see their hero ruled out for months after a dirty tackle. You have to remember, footballers are people too, this sport is their livelihood. Imagine it ending with one moment of madness?
Zaha means well, I just think he could have gone about it differently. Hopefully, this is the start of players taking a stand against these potentially leg-breaking tackles.
As to what the next step is, I've no idea. Perhaps UEFA, or the English FA need a get-together with the referees to draw up a plan of action. Obviously, things will become far easier when VAR is used in every competitive football match, but there needs to be some sort of contingency option to be used in the meantime. Retrospective action, perhaps? Until you clamp down on it, we're going to see too many superstars sidelined for too long...