Blog: LMA wrong to criticise Murphy’s comments

The debate about tackling in the Premier League has continued to merrily rumble along over the past couple of weeks. Martin Shillito assesses why the League Managers’ Association (LMA) statement yesterday was ill-advised and unnecessary.

Two leg breaks in the Premier League within a matter of weeks and numerous other challenges, be them reckless, brainless, mistimed or all three, threatening to break bones or damage ligaments, and the unusual debate on whether some top footballers have become too aggressive and rough, rather than the more prevalent argument of recent times that they have become too soft, has raged fervently since Hatem Ben Arfa’s suffering at Eastlands nine days ago.

Now the LMA has thrown its hat into the ring by standing up for the managers who were rather innocently and tacitly ‘attacked’ by Danny Murphy at the Leaders in Football conference last week.

Part of the LMA’s statement read: “Professional football managers certainly do not incite their players to go out and cause injury to fellow professionals”. Danny Murphy, however naive in suggesting Stoke manager Tony Pulis, Wolves manager Mick McCarthy and Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce were partly responsible for the heightened aggression observed within tackles so far this season, did in no way whatsoever suggest they wanted their players to go out and hurt opponents. He simply said some managers got their men so ‘pumped up’ that problems were more likely to occur with players going in unnecessarily hard.

The Fulham captain’s words were predominantly eloquently, thoughtfully and carefully released, whereas the LMA’s statement struggles to be any of those three qualities. Not only that, but someone who has experienced opposition players and managers at the closest possible of quarters this season must surely have more of an idea on the matter than the suited and booted officials of a managers’ support organisation.

Furthermore, the fact the LMA felt the need to release their statement on the issue reeks of the desire to prevent any footballer in the future criticising managers publicly. Fortunately the right of free speech is exercised in this country, and no matter how much the association attempts to make footballers feel guilty over their comments about managers, they should not be deterred. The LMA does a great job in looking after its managers, but on this occasion it took an unnecessary and somewhat foolish measure.

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