If Rooney is out of order, Ben Thatcher should be out for longer
Last night, during the opening minutes of the second half of Manchester City v Portsmouth, the ball was cleared from a City corner and Pedro Mendes chased it to prevent either it from going out or a City player reaching it. He saw City left-back Ben Thatcher racing down towards the ball and kicked the ball out of play. Thatcher then collided with Mendes which sent the Pompey midfielder down to the ground and in contact with the advertising boards. Glen Johnson was nearby and aimed to hold up Thatcher to have a word, then realised Mendes was potentially in a serious state and quickly summoned the Pompey medical staff, who attended to Mendes along with the City medical staff and a stretcher. Several minutes went by and Pompey manager Harry Redknapp even came to attend the scene as Mendes developed a seizure and required oxygen. He apparently suffered another seizure en route to hospital.
Referee Dermot Gallagher deemed the incident as a bookable offence, not a straight red.
My heavens. I saw this on Sky Sports and the commentator said it looks uglier every time it was replayed, and he was right. Every time I saw it replayed it looked horrendous, Thatcher simply came in on Mendes, no challenge for the ball, no tackle, he literally came in on Mendes' left-side jaw with a high elbow from nowhere, so imagine the impact and the shock to the brain, hence the seizures and the concussive state. Appalling is an understatement, horrendous, horrific, vicious, and premeditated certainly wouldn't be. After the challenge, if one wishes to label it as that in football, you could see one or two Man City fans hesitatingly applauding Thatcher. You couldn't miss the elbow at any speed, much less the speed Thatcher was going at. Surprisingly, Mr Gallagher did.
Thatcher previously elbowed Nicky Summerbee of Sunderland at Selhurst Park back in January 2000 and received a two-game ban. He should have been arrested last night, because that was a clear case of GBH with intent. I understand Mendes is stable and will be supervised medically and neurologically, returning to Portsmouth today. And yet this is another case of reckless conduct in football that simply proceeds to serious injury and could potentially worsen into a fatality.
This is partly the reason why I endorse the ban on tackles from behind, probably why FIFA did too, owing to the recklessness of some players. Redknapp said he knew what would happen once Thatcher was seen at such pace, either he was intent on a late tackle or something else, and last night it was viciously something else. I even wrote in my weekend review "....Ben Thatcher, for me a defender with a self destruct button at times....". Mendes may well be out of action for a month and a speedy recovery to him indeed. Thatcher should be out for longer than that.