Chris Coleman has responded to criticism of Neil Taylor’s leg-breaking tackle on Seamus Coleman by claiming Ireland’s players were also guilty of some poor challenges in a feisty “British derby” and had not left the pitch with “halos above their head.”
A tense, frenetic international clash left a nasty taste in the mouth because of two controversial tackles in quick succession in the second half. Both were made by Wales players, but their manager, Chris Coleman, insisted there had also been bad ones from the Irish team in a highly physical encounter.
Seamus Coleman left the pitch on a stretcher, hooked up to oxygen, after an over-the-top-of-the-ball challenge from Taylor. It was a terrible, reckless challenge that inflicted such severe damage on the Everton defender that replays were not shown to protect those watching on television.
Taylor was immediately shown a red card and apologised to Ireland’s assistant manager, Roy Keane, as he left the pitch. He also apologised to the Irish team after the final whistle, although O’Neill revealed his players had been equally incensed by Bale’s lunge moments earlier.
The Real Madrid star escaped with a yellow card for an out-of-control, studs up tackle, which connected with O’Shea’s leg just below the knee cap.
Chris Coleman claimed he would rebuke Taylor if he feels the tackle was deliberately violent, but added that there was “needle” throughout the game and both sides were responsible for it. The Wales manager faced a hostile Irish media after the game and tried his best to defend his players.
“I’ve not seen the [Taylor] tackle, but I’ve seen the aftermath,” said Coleman. “It’s bad for Seamus, he is a cracking lad and a fantastic player.
“It was a typically British derby game, there was needle all the way through the game. I’m not complaining about that. A couple of your [Ireland} boys were lucky to stay on the pitch, it was a little bit of both. Your boys did not come off with halos above their heads.
“I don’t want to see players suffering serious injury, but it’s a contact sport. If I see it again and it’s a really bad one from Neil…but he’s not that type of boy because he has also suffered a serious injury.
“As for the Bale tackle, I’m going to sit on the fence. I’ve not seen it on television, I’ve only seen it in real time and for me, he has to go for it [the ball].
“I think we are making a bigger deal out of it because it’s Gareth Bale. It was a physical game, there were tackles flying in all game. I don’t want to see anyone sent off, but their tackles flying in everywhere, some from Ireland’s boys, some from our boys.
“We’ll see it one way, Ireland will probably see it another way. We didn’t expect to come here, get the ball down and win by playing pretty football.”
O’Neill was pleased with the point, but was clearly shaken by the extent of the injury suffered by Coleman.
“Seamus has gone to hospital and it’s a broken leg,”said O’Neill. “I’m told it is a bad one. It’s a devastating blow for Everton, a devastating blow for us, because he has been having the season of his life, but more importantly it is a huge blow to him.
“He has been playing so well, but he will fight like a devil to get back. It puts things into perspective a little bit tonight. I’ve been told they wouldn’t even show the replays on television because it was that bad.
Asked about the Bale challenge, O’Neill was diplomatic and said he wanted to see replays before judging whether it was as bad as the Taylor one.
“I’ve been told the Bale one was also a bad one,” he added. “The players were not happy with it and tell me it could have also have been a red card. I don’t know [whether the Wales players have lost their heads] but I’m told they were pretty bad and if that’s true I would agree with you [that they did].”
Condemnation of the two Welsh tackles was led on social media by former, Newcastle United Liverpool and Manchester City midfielder Didi Hamann.
Why do people talk about a players good character when they go over the top of the ball and risk injury to opponents as Bale and Taylor did?
— Didi Hamann (@DietmarHamann) March 24, 2017
“Why do people talk about a players [sic] good character when they go over the top of the ball and risk injury to opponents as Bale and Taylor did?
“Game is dead if we let players get away with these challenges. Have a look where O'Shea gets caught, half way up his leg, ball was on deck…”