TRIAL by television can be costly. Just ask Marouane Fellaini who spent three matches kicking his heels on the sidelines over Christmas, after his flagrant reaction to Ryan Shawcross’s attentions was picked up by at least three different camera angles.
It wasn’t always that way – as Martin Keown ruefully recalls.
A powerful, imposing central defender when Everton went to Wembley in 1991 for the Zenith Data Systems Cup Final, Keown left the celebrated pitch on a stretcher seeing stars.
An uncompromising Crystal Palace side which contained monolithic individuals like Eric Young, Andy Thorn and Garry Thompson, plus current Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, walked up the Wembley steps to collect the silverware – while Keown was having his face stitched back up in the Wembley hospital.
“If that match had been played today the authorities would have thrown the book at the players involved,” he said. “It was blatant off the ball ... well, let’s just say I was stretchered off and didn’t see any of extra time. But fortunately Wembley has its own hospital.”
Football has certainly changed since that brutal afternoon – and not just in the technology that now polices the game.
And it’s the role of defenders which has adapted more than most in recent years.
Keown famously became one third of the most resolute defensive triumvirate in modern football when he left Everton for Arsenal.
So rock solid was the axis of Bould-Adams-Keown that Gunners fans gleefully adopted the refrain “One nil to the Ar-se-nal!” – and so reliable was that defence that one goal was usually enough.
Nowadays the emphasis appears to be more on attack, even from the back.
“What you see now is that full-backs are given much more licence to go forward than they ever were in the past,” explained Keown, now a TV analyst for ESPN. “If you look back to when David Moyes first took over at Everton to now, the emphasis has changed completely for the full-backs.
“I actually thought Seamus Coleman was a winger I saw him flying forward so often, but he’s actually described as a right-back.
“On the other side Leighton Baines creates most of Everton’s chances.
“But that switch in emphasis exposes the centre-backs much more and an apparent strength can become a weakness.
“But in Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin Everton have two defenders who really complement each other.
“One of the things which really stands out when you watch Jagielka is the number of blocks he gets in.
“He does extremely well inside his own penalty box, while Distin’s strength comes working the channels where he can use his power and strength.
“To keep playing as well as he does at his age is commendable.
“And they are just as valuable to Everton as the likes of Fellaini.”