Paul Parker

Brutal De Jong deserves punishment

Paul Parker

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I can't
quite fathom just how Nigel de Jong escaped a card for his challenge that broke
Hatem Ben Arfa's leg during Manchester City's clash with Newcastle on Sunday.

It was both
reckless and dangerous and the FA should retrospectively punish the midfielder.

I have no
idea how the referee could deem a challenge like that a fair one; the official
himself should also face some kind of punishment for missing it.

De Jong is
a destroyer and only a destroyer. He has little else to his game, and we have
seen him making challenges like this before. He just hasn't been able to tone
his aggression down on the pitch yet.

His tackle
on Ben Arfa was bad, but even worse was the one in the World Cup final when he
nearly took off Xabi Alonso's head with that crazy karate kick.

It's now
safe to say that the Dutch authorities had issues not only with that particular
challenge but also the way De Jong  "needlessly looks to push the
limit", as Holland coach Bert van Marwijk put it, time after time.

Sunday's
assault on Ben Arfa was merely the straw that broke the camel's back and,
admirably, Van Marwijk has tried to put the player on a leash by dropping him
from Netherlands' upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers.

He's right
to do so. De Jong cannot continue to play like that. He may claim that he got
the ball when he slid in on Ben Arfa, but the question has to be: how?

He was not
in control of that challenge, and as soon as control is lost, a tackle becomes
dangerous. At the moment, he's playing the part of the bowling ball knocking
down pins and that's unacceptable.

Unfortunately,
I'm not so sure the FA will be as sensible as the Dutch have been when it comes
to meting out sanctions.

There is no
doubt in my mind that De Jong deserves a three-match ban for the tackle on Ben
Arfa. Surely the referee must have seen the incident on the television
afterwards and realised he made a mistake in not issuing a card.

But because
he opted to allow play to go on at the time, it's unlikely the FA will get
involved. More often than not, they back their officials as they don't want to
upset the referees' union. 

De Jong
wasn't the only one who was at it over the weekend. Wolves midfielder Karl
Henry's challenge on Jordi Gomez of Wigan was even more shocking. What on earth
was he thinking of, flying into a tackle like that?

For me,
that had to be intentional. It wasn't a case of poor timing or a lack of
control - he looked like he knew what he wanted to do. Even if he had got the
ball - which he didn't - he would have taken the man too, and that's just not
right.

He was
justifiably sent off, but for tackles as poor as that, I would suggest a
further two-match ban be retrospectively handed out by the FA.

Fortunately,
Gomez was not seriously injured, but the difference between walking away and
breaking a bone is marginal. Gomez could easily have been hospitalised.

The FA have
made big noises about stamping out those kind of challenges, but unless they get tough players will continue
to lose control, putting more players at risk of serious injury.

That means
following the example of the Dutch and hitting both players with retrospective
bans. Perhaps only then will the likes of De Jong and Henry - both of whom are turning into serial offenders - think
twice when launching into their next tackle.

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