Is football too physical? That seems to be the argument doing the rounds this week. Do me a favour: it isn't physical enough.
I am sick and tired of people pretending to fall over in an effort to con the referee and win a free-kick. We need to be more like boxers, whose whole ego and ethos is not to go down. They would rather get smashed all over the place.
Our sport is so daft you actually get rewarded with a free-kick in a dangerous area if you go down like a complete wuss. Let's go the whole hog and put a tutu on players. For God's sake, we're not in ballet. This is football and it is a man's game.
I was a defensive midfielder and I love seeing a rasping, well-timed tackle. The fans love it. It is an essential part of the sport.
I remember one game I was sent sprawling a full 15 yards by Terry Hurlock. All he did was step over the ball and put his shoulder into my chest and hit me. I swear to you I ended up on my back miles away with my little feet in the air. But I didn't roll over 25 times and whinge. I just thought "fair play to that bloke". He protected the ball, shielded it and mashed me into the ground, then turned the other way and pinged a 40-yard pass to a team-mate. He had a little look back at me and winked, and that was all part of the game.
Nowadays that would probably have been a foul. But it made me better. I needed to make sure that didn'thappen again and so I learned to shield the ball myself. It is a fantastic skill. Trevor Brooking was brilliant at it – he could hold people off with his arms. As long as you don't elbow someone in the face, there's nothing wrong with it. Yet at the moment if you put your arm out or someone gets too tight too early, it is a free-kick. That's nonsense and I want to get upper-body contact back in the game.
What we do have to be careful of is tackles below the knee. We play Manchester City next Sunday and their midfielder Nigel de Jong has been under the spotlight since the challenge which broke Hatem Ben Arfa's leg. Now for me it was a complete accident... as opposed to De Jong's tackle in the World Cup final, which was chest-height and should have been a definite red card. But against Newcastle it was just one of those unfortunate things.
Half the problem is the speed of the game these days. My players and I have been shocked by the pace of individuals in the Premier League and some of our tackles at the moment aren't getting there. It doesn'tmean they are deliberate, though.
The best challenge I have ever seen was Bobby Moore's against Jairzinhoin the 1970 World Cup. But maybe if Jairzinho was as quick as today's players, Bobby might have mistimed it and broken the guy's leg. Would that have made Bobby's tackle a deliberateleg-breaker? Would it heck.
We get the same argument in racing when a horse dies. Are the fences too tough, did the jockey cause it, is it the fault of the trainer? It is none of that. It is just a circumstance of the sport, and it is the same with football.
Murphy's stout of order
Danny Murphy owes a few apologies. I was shocked to read his comments about Blackburn, Stoke and Wolves being too physical and playing the game the wrong way. He said those teams are over-zealous in their tackling and have a win-at-all-costs attitude which should be looked at.
Danny, you are totally wrong and a bit out of order. Teams play in different ways – that is football. Jose Mourinho plays in a different way at Real Madrid to the Barcelona coach. That's what coaches do. They have their own tactics and they play to the strengths of the players they have.
I looked at Karl Henry's tackle for Wolves and it was simply a silly, reckless challenge. It was stupid, even Mick McCarthy said so. But why Mick is being blamed for the challenge I just do not know.
I think you have to be really careful when you are someone like Danny Murphy, who is still playing and who has never been a manager, to talk about what managers do. If I was one of the managers he was talking about I wouldn't be very happy.
Players haven't worn the suit. They don't know what it is like and anyone who wants to comment on what I do and how I do it should have at least worn the suit for one day.
Tony Pulis, for example, won't tell his players to go out and do whatever it takes to win a game, as Danny is implying. Tony just uses what his players are good at and that is part of the skill.
I've heard managers say get close to someone, or "bad-rash" him, in other words be all over an opponent like a rash. But I have never heard a manager tell a player to go and break someone else's leg.
We've played against Blackburn and Fulham this season and some of Fulham's tackles were as strong and vivacious as Blackburn's. So I'm very confused about what Danny is trying to say and personally I think he should apologise to Sam Allardyce, Tony Pulis and Mick, who are all decent fellas and very good coaches in their own right.
Seeing red over these disgusting Yanks who should get out of football
This is a message to those Yanks running Liverpool – sort your lives out and treat a great club with the respect it deserves.
That pair are getting right on my nerves. They are completely out of order. The club doesn't belong to them. It belongs to those thousands of people from Liverpool who haven't got any money but keep buying a ticket.
They should respect that above their own issues, get over their quarrels and let someone else take the club forward if they can't afford to. People have lost their lives supporting Liverpool and yet we have these Yanks arguing with each other.
It is absolutely disgusting, worse than any tackle I've seen, and they should get out of football if they think it is about them.
Anyone who has been through a divorce knows that kids start misbehaving when their mums and dads are more concerned about themselves. So they need to heal the rift and move on, and let Roy Hodgson do his job.
Roy is the most dignified man I have ever met and a fantastic coach. I have the utmost respect for him, and anyone blaming him for what is happening at Liverpool should havea right good look at themselves.
The people at the top of the club should give him some direction. That is why they are called directors. But they are not helping one bit. I just hope the embarrassment we caused by winning at Anfield will make them shake themselves and get the club back to what it should be, for all those fans and the weight of their support.
Last Sunday's 2-1 win wasn't half a good day for us, though. I celebrated afterwards by having a pint in my local in Burnley, then headed home to watch Match of the Day 2 because I wanted to hear what Alan Hansen said. He has not always been impressed with us this season and he admitted he thought I was mad by going to Liverpool and attacking them. Then, after 20 minutes, he said he realised I wasn't mad at all.
I loved him saying that and I think we justified that praise because we played fantastically well and recorded one of the most famous wins in our club's history.
No going back for McClaren
If Steve McClaren is offered the chance to become England manager again when Fabio Capello's reign ends in two years' time, he'd be making a dreadful mistake if he accepted.
Trevor Brooking says Steve should be considered. Steve is a fantastic coach but if you've been somewhere and it hasn't worked, then the English fans won't accept you again. Steve could win 6-0 three games on the trot but if he lost the next 1-0, the fans would be on his back.
The FA selected Steve because he was a fantastic coach. We all wanted him to do well but it didn't work. You have to move on and there are some fantastic managers in the English game who could have a go at it.
We should be looking at Harry Redknapp, Sam Allardyce, Steve Bruce. Maybe they should be talking to them already. It would be a mistake not to.Reuse content