MARTIN SAMUEL: It was an accident that EVERYONE could see coming … If the flag had been raised when it should have been, Rui Patricio’s collision with Conor Coady wouldn’t have happened. He’ll be fine but football might not be so lucky next time around
- Rui Patricio suffered a head injury after colliding with teammate Conor Coady
- The accident would have been avoided had that offside flag not been delayed
- Wolves keeper will be fine but football might not be so lucky next time around
It was the accident that was waiting to happen. The accident is completely preventable. The crash that everyone in football could see coming was seemingly powerless to prevent.
As Rui Patricio was knocked out on the pitch, the medics present, the minutes passed, it was, we can only hope, nothing more meaningful than a teachable moment.
This is what happens if footballers – players and coaches – are excluded from football. This is what happens if the decision-makers rule without opposition. The Delayed Flag is an innovation that works well with VAR, which fits perfectly into the new normal in football and is undoubtedly seen as a smash hit in FIFA offices and beyond.
Rui Patricio sustained a head injury when he collided with Wolves teammate Conor Coady.
It was an accident that anyone could see coming and that was completely preventable
Yet this is what football feared. This is why coaches like Pep Guardiola have appeared increasingly anxious and angry on the sidelines.
Football is a dangerous game, certainly for goalkeepers. Ask Petr Cech, who has played with head protection for the last 13 years of his career, after nearly losing his life at Reading in 2006.
There was always the possibility that in those insignificant, deadly periods of play that unfold after an offside flag should have been raised, tragedy could occur.
And Monday, it almost happened. Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Rui Patricio will be fine, according to his coach Nuno Espirito Santo. Yet it is luck, not judgment. His collision with defender Conor Coady, knee to head, was completely preventable.
The linesman could see that Mohamed Salah was offside before the collision
The linesman knew Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah was offside some time ago. Five seconds elapsed between the offense and the flag and five seconds in football, that’s a significant stretch of play. If the flag had been raised when it should have been, there would have been plenty of time for everyone involved to slow down, calm down, evade.
Instead, the game continued, as furious as ever. Salah trying to score, Coady and Patricio fighting to keep him at bay.
It was only when the ball was in the net that the flag was raised. By then, Patricio’s life could have changed, permanently.
The experienced football staff have advised against this all season. Fearing that a hamstring might strain, a muscle might tear and all to no avail. Here’s a look at the worst-case scenario. Is it really worth supporting the possible failures of VAR?
Nuno Espirito Santo says the goalkeeper will be fine but football might not be so lucky next time around
What happened to the well-being of the players, to the math that the sport is doing now with concussions? In the TV studio, they got around these issues, avoided questions, chose not to focus on what could have been.
And maybe that will also be the strategy of football. Until the day when we have to face a terrible reality. The sport got away with a Monday. Next time it might not be so lucky.
And when will it be? Tonight, tomorrow, next month, next year? But it does happen. One day it happens.
And when it does, it will be too late to debate the best way.