Last nights 4-1 defeat to Villa was a disappointing watch for all West Ham fans. The midfield looked lethargic, the attack looked toothless and a few mistakes here and there left the Hammers disappointed as they traveled back to West London.
Thankfully the game avoided any VAR mishaps, which have been ever to prevent lately. But during sky sports coverage of the game, Carragher said this:
“No! This is, honestly I’ve had enough of this, people are milking this head injury stuff. We’ve seen the challenge, there’s nothing wrong with his head. Get on with the game, it’s killing the game and it’s happening too much. People go down, hold their head and know the game will be stopped when they’ve lost the ball in a dangerous position. Look at that, this is a nonsense. This has got to stop. It was brought in to help players and they’re now tasking advantage of it.” (Sunday, October 22nd, 5:50pm).
This came in response to Villa’s Zaniolo going down with a supposed “head injury”, when West Ham were in a promicing position going forward. With the score currently at 2-1, a goal could have proved pivotal in the tie. Off course that is a big “if” but Carragher brings about what is potentially the next big issue the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) to attend with.
The problem arrises from the added threat to player welfare that comes with a head injury. Because of this referees tend to stop the game the second a player goes down holding their head. When a replay revealed that Zaniolo in fact didn’t receive any blow to the face/ head, what was the response from the referee? Nothing.
Head injuries are acute and potentially life threatening, but it’s obvious that this seriousness is being abused by players. As much as we all want to blame Zaniolo for simulation (which it blatantly was), we should turn are frustrations again to the PGMOL. There was no punishment handed out to Zaniolo, therefore from his perspective he’s done a good job of stopping a promising West Ham attack.
We’ve seen throughout history the lengths players will go to force a positive result for their team. Think of Maradona’s “hand of god” incident. But irrespective of the legality behind the simulated head injury, Aston Villa kept the scoreline 2-1, and went on to press there advantage by scoring two more goals.
The PGMOL need to do more. And i’ll propose how they can improve the situation:
Once a player goes down holding their head, the referee should stop play. That much is obvious as genuine cases of head injury require urgent and sometimes life threatening attention. However, in this event, the player should be forced off the pitch for a minimum of 5 minutes to be properly accessed for damage. Not only would this allow for pitch-side physiotherapists/ first aiders to better access if the players welfare would be compromised if they continue playing, but It also discourages simulation, as if you are faking it you’d still have to be accessed and side lined for a minimum of 5 minutes.
Is this the new “diving” or are all these head injury related stops off play needed to maintain player welfare. Either way the PGMOL need to stop players abusing this new rule in our beloved game.
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