Peter Cech may finally be consious but the day the Chelsea keeper’s temple met the knee of Reading’s Stephen Hunt is not going to be forgotten anytime soon. Arsenal niceguy Arsene Wenger has come out and voiced his concern over goalie safety and so has Jens Lehmann, although considering the latter is arguably the biggest wind up in the Premiership, often exploiting the nature of his position to do so (“I’m a goalie, touch me and you die“) it’s a little harder to take his opinion seriously.
But others have also come out in pseudo-defense of Chelsea and especially Jose Mourinho’s tough stance against Nicky Hunt, the idea being that while Hunt may not have deliberately tried to fracture Cech’s skull – he certainly made no attempt to avoid making contact, and showed little remorse on the pitch after clearly doing so. The opinion of Chelsea supporters needs little explanation.
Video of the incident is below, it’s definitely one of the tougher incidents to judge one way or another. It would be harsh to punish Stephen Hunt given no one can say for sure what his intent was, but it would be even worse to turn a blind eye. A solution is also far from simple, rule changes? More protection for goalies? As most of these keepers hurt themselves in 50/50 challenges, Middlesbrough’s Mark Schwarzer and Newcastle’s Shay Given are other recent victims, one option would be to essentially outlaw contact with a keeper in 50/50s – maybe even to the point of a booking. But such a decision would have a pretty significant impact on set pieces, one-on-ones, crosses. If you scale it back and only punish for “intent to hurt”, then that’s what we have right now and no one seems happy.
A lot of people are complaining, but we haven’t heard them put forward decent solutions.