VIDEO: As we face up to a world without tackling, Sportsmail looks back at some memorable challenges
15:49 GMT, 15 January 2013
16:12 GMT, 15 January 2013
There was an outcry of disapproval after Vincent Kompany was given a straight red card for his full-blooded challenge on Jack Wilshere.
The Manchester City captain’s challenge was robust but he won the ball, sending out the message that players will be handed their marching orders for aggressive challenges.
Does this signal the death-knell for the old-fashioned tackle And if the letter of the law is followed, we may never see the likes of these challenges – as nominated by Sportsmail’s reporters – again…
Bad Kompany: The Belgian harshly saw red for this challenge on Arsenal's Jack Wilshere
KEVIN BALL (Sunderland) on Duncan Ferguson (Newcastle United), St James’ Park, August, 1999
Very few players in the game, never mind the North East, have relished a tackle as much as former Sunderland captain Kevin Ball. And they certainly like a tackle up here.
But on the night Sunderland pulled off a rare win on enemy territory and with the game in the dying minutes, ‘Bally’ pulled off a typically well-timed, hard but fair challenge on Duncan Ferguson. Only the ball flew from the pair who were 30 yards from goal, over Thomas Sorensen and hit his bar, denying Newcastle an equaliser.
This one of the most memorable Tyne-Wear derbies – Ruud Gullit put Alan Shearer and Ferguson on the bench and paid the price in the endless rain. But if Bally of all people had scored the equaliser, even Sunderland’s former manager and current reserve-team boss wouldn’t have been able to live it down.
PAUL McGRATH (Aston Villa) against Helsingborg, Olympia, September, 1996
The big man had just been dropped by Brian Little. If memory serves, he came on as a substitute in this game and was seriously peeved. With about five minutes to go, the ball broke down the right, just in front of the dug-outs. McGrath wasn’t the quickest but, my life, he shifted to make his mark. He took ball, man, trainer’s bag, the lot, right in front of Little – and me, sat in the press box towards the back of a small stand.
It was fair. But it wasn’t so much a tackle as a statement. I remember nothing else about this game. The thought of that challenge has stayed with me throughout my career.
McGrath was a solid bloke and I felt a tinge of sympathy for his opponent that night. Honestly, he absolutely cleaned this guy out.
Hardman: McGrath (left) was known for his tackling prowess
STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool) on Phil Jagielka (Everton), Anfield, March, 2008
Never one to do things by halves, Gerrard ignited the home crowd with a typically uncompromising double tackle on Jagielka. An initial block challenge near the halfway line sent the ball spinning towards the corner flag, with Jagielka sprinting after it and Gerrard scrambling to his feet and setting off in hot pursuit.
As Jagielka caught up with the ball, Gerrard was a good four or five yards behind but that didn’t stop him hurling himself into a full-length studs-first tackle that sent the ball flying into the Kop. A blur of red, the Liverpool skipper might have been inviting trouble in the current climate but there were no repercussions then.
Neither should there have been. It was the cleanest of contacts and Jagielka was rattled but unharmed. Gerrard at his most committed, and it soon spread to his team-mates, who dominated and should have won by more than an early Fernando Torres goal.
PHIL NEVILLE (Everton) on Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd) Goodison Park, October, 2008
Not many tackles can lay claim to changing the course of a team’s season – but, according to Everton manager David Moyes, this one did. United were cruising at Goodison Park, 1-0 up thanks to a Darren Fletcher goal, but on the hour Phil Neville launched a ferocious challenge on ex-team mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who had already been half-felled by Steven Pienaar. Neville’s lunge sparked fury in the away section and he was booked by Alan Wiley. Later replays showed he got the ball but the whistle had already gone.
The incident (48 seconds into this video) whipped up the crowd and Everton began playing with increased vigour. Soon after, Marouane Fellaini scored an equaliser. They had lost three of four at home up to that point but won their next three Premier League games to finish fifth in May. As for the best overall tackler I have seen – Ryan Giggs takes that accolade. His slides are always silky smooth and generally he wins the ball.
STUART PEARCE (Wealdstone)
Bobby Gould said he went to watch Stuart Pearce playing for Wealdstone and left after the first tackle when the part-time electrician sent the winger flying. Legend has it the winger ended up closer to Bobby and his wife in the stand than the pitch and Coventry, where Gould was manager, soon paid 300,000 for the player who went on to become England’s greatest left back.
It was a huge amount of money to pay for non-League part-timer but money well spent as Pearce went on to play 78 games for his country (even if most of his success came with Nottingham Forest).
Psycho: Pearce wasn't one to shy away from a challenge
Anyway, I guess that’s Bobby’s favourite tackle, not mine. I’m going to pick a player I liked watching tackle for England and that’s Paul Ince. I was there in France, during the World Cup, when he was asked about it. He said this: ‘I love tackling, I really love it. It’s better than sex. My wife is not going to be too pleased, but I love the sound of it, the crunch, the noise, the act of tackling. I was born to tackle.’ I think he was too. I wish I could have tackled like Paul Ince.
JAMIE CARRAGHER (Liverpool) on Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan), Istanbul, May, 2005
The memory of how Liverpool came back from the dead to win their fifth European Cup remains as fresh as ever, with that incredible three goals-in-six minutes flurry, but it sometimes tends to be forgotten that they also had to withstand a late siege from Milan.
As the Italians tried to pilfer a win late on, Shevchenko powered into the Liverpool area and had skipped past Sami Hyypia but just as he was about to pull the trigger, Carragher swept in to spirit the ball from his toe with immaculate timing. Given what was at stake, it has to go down as the best, most important tackle I’ve seen.
That game was also responsible for the best save I have ever seen, too, with Jerzy Dudek’s scarcely believable parry from the hapless Shevchenko.
Master of the art: Carragher dives in to challenge Mark Viduka
STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool) on Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Anfield, March, 2007
Ronaldo – soon to become the most expensive player in the world – and the best tackler on the planet. Gerrard nicks possession just when United are in a threatening position with Ronaldo in possession. Minimum fuss, goes to ground for a split second, nicks the ball and Liverpool are on their way up the field. Pure class.
MARK FISH (Bolton) on Michael Owen (Liverpool), Reebok Stadium, November, 1997
The 17-year-old Owen was lightning and nobody could catch him. So when he went through on goal, home fans feared the worst. But Fish, playing one of his first games for Bolton, somehow managed to keep within an outstretched leg of the Liverpool striker and just as Owen was about to shoot slid in, scooped back the ball, got up and played the ball to a midfielder. Easy.
Mark-ed man: Fish (left) gets to grip with Owen once more while at Charlton later in his career
CHRIS SOLLY (Charlton) on Steve Morison (Millwall), The Valley, March, 2010
Nine minutes into this fierce south London derby Morison, one of the most prolific strikers in League One that season, was sent through on goal by a long ball that caught out centre backs Jose Semedo and Miguel Llera. But 19-year-old left back Solly hurtled towards the middle and produced an unbelievable recovery tackle taking the ball first, then the man, and a large chunk of the turf in the process.
BORIS JOHNSON (England) on Maurizio Gaudino (Germany), Madejski Stadium, May 2006
They say great tackles can change games but this one changed an entire career. Boris was seen as a bumbling buffoon before this remarkable rugby-style tackle. Now he’s still seen as a bumbling buffoon but is somehow in his second term as Mayor of London.
OK, it’s not a proper tackle, so don’t try this one at home, kids (or on the training pitch) – it won’t get your football career very far. But it was very funny.