Football has changed in many ways over the past 20 years, and to a certain extent, it has been for the better.
The pace of the game is frenetic, but perhaps one thing that has been disappointing, is how the art of tackling has disappeared.
Now with the assistance of VAR, there is no hiding place for the players. You can no longer afford to follow through or lunge in two-footed, otherwise you could pay a heavy price.
Anyway, let’s reflect on four rash challenges from FA Cup history that will make you wince.
Paul Gascoigne’s moment of madness – Tottenham v Nottingham Forest (1991)
FA Cup Finals can sometimes incur a rush of blood to the head, and players let the occasion take over them. This was evident in the 1991 FA Cup Final when Tottenham faced Nottingham Forest.
In the opening stages of the game, Paul Gascoigne lunged into Gary Charles, and it was rash. Gascoigne ruptured a cruciate ligament, while Charles suffered the mental scars, and it took him to recover, but luckily it didn’t end his career. It was shocking in every sense of the word, and the fact that FA Cup Final is remembered for that challenge says everything you need to know.
Vinnie Jones smashes things up – Wimbledon v Liverpool (1988)
Vinnie Jones was a no-nonsense kind of player during his career. He was never one to shy away from a confrontation, and he often ended up in the referee’s book.
The main story of the 1988 FA Cup Final was how Wimbledon aka ‘The Crazy Gang’ stunned Liverpool at Wembley, but perhaps we shouldn’t overlook some of the crude tackles in the match. One of which was Jones on Steve McMahon. Only minutes into the showpiece occasion, Jones produced a cynical tackle on McMahon that left the Liverpool midfielder in a heap on the pitch.
When asked for his thoughts about the tackle years late, Jones said: “The boys knew I was going to smash him because I told them that if I could early enough, the referee wasn’t going to send me off in front of 100,000 people.
“I didn’t get too much of a response from the lads, so it was a bit of a gamble.”
Jones, as we know, was just one of those players you wouldn’t mess with!
Kevin Moran sends Peter Reid flying – Manchester United v Everton (1985)
FA Cup Finals can always be tense affairs, but once again, there was some drama in the 1985 FA Cup Final. But the clash between Kevin Moran and Peter Reid got the fans off their seats in an otherwise drab game.
Paul McGrath made an untimely error after an otherwise impeccable game, and he let Peter Reid in, who had just Kevin Moran between him and United’s goal. But Moran dashed out and produced a ferocious challenge that left Reid flying through the air. Chants from the Everton fans urging for the referee to dismiss Moran and Moran was duly given his marching orders.
Sergio Aguero turns nasty – Manchester City v Chelsea (2013)
Sergio Aguero, like most other world-class strikers, was known for his goals during his playing days, rather than his tackling ability. However, the mercurial Argentine turned rather nasty during an FA Cup semi-final tie against Chelsea.
Towards the end of the game, Aguero slid on David Luiz, and as he did, he appeared to stamp on the Brazilian defender. Despite the unsavoury episode, the FA decided against taking retrospective action, and so Aguero escaped any further punishment.
Any FA Cup shocks this weekend?
Although there are predominantly Premier League teams left in the quarter-finals, there could be a potential shock. Nottingham Forest – who knocked out Arsenal in the third round – host Liverpool on Sunday.
However, Middlesbrough – who took out Manchester United and Tottenham in the Fourth and Fifth Round respectively – face Chelsea at the Riverside on Saturday evening. Paddy Power is offering a tempting price of 11/2 for Middlesbrough to reach the semi-finals, and the Blues would arguably be the biggest scalp for the Championship to date were they to do so.