Football fans never cease to amaze me. Never in a million years did I expect that Joe Ralls challenge on Lucas Moura would prove so divisive.
To recap, the ball broke to Lucas, who has pace to burn and he was gathering a head of steam as he headed in to the Cardiff half. Ralls, alert to the danger, tracked him and attempted to take one for the team. In a state of panic, rather than clip his ankles or tug his shirt, he chopped him down right in front of the Spurs bench and the fourth official.
This is divided people for two reasons. Firstly, it can’t be classed as denying a goal scoring opportunity because he was so far away from goal, although he probably would have been clean through. Secondly because it was not regarded as malicious or violent, more clumsy.
Valid points, but the rules are open to interpretation and common sense. This was a bit of a triple- whammy. For a start, there was no attempt to play the ball as Ralls had his eyes very much on the prize, which was Lucas. His challenge was also up around his opponents waist, which is never a good luck. Also, the ball was about five yards away at the time!
It would have been a remarkable reprieve had Ralls got away with a yellow, or without a card at all as some lunatics are suggesting. You just know the same people that are purple with rage about the injustice of it all would have been spitting feathers had it been against a Cardiff player instead.
The prosecution rests your honour.
The only thing Ralls is guilty of is not being cute enough. If he had disguised his foul as if he was running behind Moura, while holding his hands up as if to say ‘look, I’m really trying not to foul him’ all while tripping him up, he would have simply been booked. Those incidents are a dime a dozen in football these days.
Ralls was brainless to give Mike Dean the opportunity to turn all eyes on him. I don’t think a Tottenham player doing the same thing would have seen red on Saturday and I don’t think Ralls was deserving of a red either. The Tottenham players were quick to surround and harry the ref. Dean decided to add a bit of drama by standing to observe for a bit before flourishing his red in his own inimitable way.
Moura had done him and Ralls did what so many footballers would have done in that situation. It wasn’t violent, it wasn’t intended to hurt, it was just cynical. It sets a precedent for the future because it wasn’t a clear goal scoring opportunity and it wasn’t a studs-up, dangerous foul. It looked desperate, sure, but as Dean showed in the first half, if you take down a player further up the pitch – as Sanchez did on Paterson once the big Scot had broken past the back line – it’s only a booking. Sanchez had no intention of playing the ball and was as far away from the ball as Ralls was. Plus, it was around 30 yards from goal – a far more dangerous position on the pitch. Should he have seen red? You could argue either way…