I haven't had the urge (or time) to do a blog in a little while, but this week something stirred me to such an extent, I had to get my opinion down in writing.
And that subject was the faux anger at Diego Costa's 'stamp(s)' in the League Cup semi final on Tuesday. Firstly, there is no way of knowing for certain that he did either on purpose, in which case I don't truly understand how he can be punished? I'd be inclined to think that he meant the first, albeit he did well to be so precise given that he was looking in the other direction. Secondly, it was hardly a 'stamp'! At worst he trod on him. I don't believe it would have even hurt at all, particularly during such an adrenaline fueled match. The furor that followed, and Brendan Rodgers reaction to the incident, suggested that he'd snapped Can's leg in half. Why must everything that happens in modern life be amplified to such an extent? Thirdly, so what if he did mean it? It wasn't the most vicious thing anyone has ever done, and quite frankly, man up.
In the aftermath I've seen many people calling for a lengthy a ban and proclaiming Costa some sort of pariah (even comparisons with Suarez, who let's not forget bit an opponent on three separate occasions). I'd argue that not only is it harsh to ban him given it can't be proven, but we could do with more players like Costa about. Modern football is very much a game for pampered pussies. As soon as someone puts it about a bit, the majority cry like little kids. It's all so biege. We've become used to watching boring (but admittedly technically fantastic) sides like Barcelona and Spain pass the ball to death with no penetration. Give me the cut and thrust of Bayern (pre Pep) or the directness of Madrid, with Pepe and Ramos kicking lumps out of the opposition any time. Last year we saw Atletico (of course containing Costa) lauded for their fantastic achievements, but anyone who watched them can't have failed to notice their ability to push the boundaries of what was acceptable. Their game indeed personified by their street fighter of a coach, Diego Someone, a thoroughly dislikeable man, but a born winner. Nice guys don't finish first. Winners will do whatever it takes (within reason of course), and quite right too.
The best and most entertaining players play close to the edge and blur the lines. Two of the Premier League most decorated and appreciated midfielders, Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane (not to mention Paul Scholes) would completely dominate their opponents, try and wind up opposition and have sneaky digs wherever they could. And the, in my opinion, greatest player we've seen in the division, Alan Shearer, would have thought nothing of treading on an opponent, or leaving a stray boot or elbow in if he felt he could get away with it.
Interestingly I've seen quite a few ex players come to his defence (including surprisingly Thierry Henry), whilst 'top' journalists bay for blood. This comes as no surprise, as we see a little sense from those who know the game best, and what it takes to win, whilst those on the outside attempt to stir up publicity to make sales/increase internet hits. Certainly the best article I read was Gary Neville in the Telegraph (read here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/chelsea/11379981/Diego-Costa-is-a-monster-thats-why-I-love-him.html ), and I genuinely couldn't agree with him any more. Indeed his brother got into hot water this week for saying that he'd have 'smashed' an opponent if they were having a great game. Sorry, but what is so bad about this?! Honestly, get a grip everyone. Footballer kicks another footballer to stop him playing so well. Well, hold the front page!! If only we'd have had such individuals playing for England in that ill fated loss to Uruguay at the World Cup last summer. One individual, the aforementioned Suarez ripped us apart single handedly. Surely anyone with any sense could have seen that as he returned from a knee injury, an early reducer would have been the obvious way to go. But no, everyone is just too nice. There's no place for niceties once you cross that line. I'm not advocating killing anyone, simply saying that the best players will do what's required to win.
Look at teams like Arsenal (and Spurs too) - they will never win the Premier League whilst they are such a push over. Their players are scared of certain opposition, and games can be won against them before the first whistle is even blown.
And don't give me anything about footballers being role models. If your child's role model is a thick millionaire footballer with likely dubious morals, maybe you ought to look elsewhere for someone to blame?
Why must we all be so sensitive and continually offended by everything? It's a man's game, stop acting like little kids.