A cowardly challenge that needs stamping out

Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo (left) and Everton's Seamus Coleman battle for the ball during a Premier L

Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo (left) and Everton's Seamus Coleman battle for the ball during a Premier League match at Goodison Park last month. Hopefully Coleman makes a full recovery after breaking his leg last week. - Credit: PA

You have to feel pity for Neil Taylor.

No, not the one that snapped Seamus Coleman’s leg in half during the Wales v Ireland clash last Friday (although according to his Welsh manager Chris Coleman, he is ‘not that type of boy’).

But the other Neil Taylor – an ex-Liberal Democrat councillor who has been inundated with abuse by the Twitter loonies because they thought he was the same Neil Taylor who broke Seamus Coleman’s leg in half – easy mistake to make if you are illiterate enough!

In the end councillor Taylor took to Twitter:

‘1: I do not play football

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2: I don’t even like football

3: I was in a school footie team aged about 6 (we lost every game).’

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He has taken it in good grace, clearly realising the intelligence of many of the abusers is about as impressive as footballer Taylor’s judgement of a ‘tackle’ on a pitch. Importantly, councillor Taylor has a sense of humour.

Not that many of us who love the ‘beautiful game’ have much of a sense of humour when it comes to footballer Neil Taylor.

Most of us are just hoping he hasn’t ended Seamus Coleman’s career with such a cowardly tackle.

For those who don’t know, and I’m sure most of you do, Everton star Seamus Coleman left the Aviva Stadium pitch on a stretcher, hooked up to oxygen, after an over-the-top-of-the-ball challenge from Neil Taylor.

It was a terrible, reckless challenge that inflicted such damage on the defender that replays were not shown to protect those watching on television.

There can be no excuses from the Welsh player and I don’t care how upset he was afterwards, how many tears he shed, or how nice a chap he is away from the game.

That type of challenge in football is a disgrace (I suggest you don’t go watch it on You Tube). It has started to creep back into the game again and it needs to be stamped out. The ‘hard man’ image is starting to become fashionable again on the football pitch, as much as a tattoo sleeve or silly squad number. And it’s not a good thing.

I see poor tackles flying in at all levels of the game.

They are dangerous and Coleman’s injury shows the magnitude of the damage that can be caused.

For me, there is an element of intent in every flying footed challenge.

Don’t tell me players don’t know what they are doing as they lunge, teeth gritted, face contorted, towards the ball and the opponent’s legs.

More often than not, the person intends to win the ball of course, but they are happy to take the man as well, and that is where the problems occur - all or nothing for too many these days.

Seamus Coleman faces the rest of the season on the sidelines, hopefully his career is not over, while Neil Taylor hopefully replays the challenge in his mind over and over and over again - telling himself never to repeat such carnage on a fellow professional.

All sports are dangerous, football is no different.

But I have never been one to excuse violent play.

It’s not part of the game, it’s not part of any sport.

I have no sympathies for those who inflict such damage - Taylor’s was a cowardly challenge, with a capital C.

It was good to see Jermain Defoe back in an England shirt.

The man is a goalscoring machine and he has clearly looked after himself to be so fit and athletic at 34 years of age.

Not that any of that impressed old ‘grumpy man’, Alan Shearer.

Writing in The Sun this week he said: “Look at yesterday’s team and they will not be troubling anyone of any note next summer, even with Harry Kane back in,” he declared.

“Indeed, it is an embarrassment that Gareth had to call upon a 34-year-old who has not played for England in four years to play the striker’s role.”

Really? Now, that rather surprises me coming from Shearer.

I would have thought, as a prolific goalscorer himself, Shearer would know more than anyone that goalscorers know where the back of the net is, whatever their age.

Personally, I thought it refreshing that Southgate picks players in form, not on reputations! Shearer will be suggesting next that Messi and Suarez, who are both 30 this year, are edging over the hill and should not be considered for Argentina or Uruguay.

The things people will say to draw attention to themselves – you are spending too much time with Gary Lineker, Alan!

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