Search icon


23rd Jul 2019

Sorry, but Joris Gnagnon’s ‘horror tackle’ against Liverpool was… good

Kyle Picknell

James Milner called the challenge “a disgrace” which is the first time James Milner has called anything a disgrace in his entire life.

He was once very, very displeased about the amount of peri salt he was given on his chips in Nando’s but even then he couldn’t quite bring himself to call it a disgrace. This, on the other hand…

You’ll have no doubt seen it by now, Sevilla defender Joris Gnagnon’s wild, deliberate swing at the legs of 18-year-old Liverpool left-back Yasser Larouci during a pre-season friendly that took place on Sunday.

As mentioned, Milner called it a disgrace. Many on Twitter echoed the comment, branding it shocking or disgusting, whilst some went even further, demanding Gnagnon be banned for a lengthy period of time or – and let me pause here just to finish fucking howling laughing at them – be banned from football for life.


I’m sorry, but if you’ve never swung a leg like this at someone as they’ve dribbled past you then you have never played football. You’ve never played it.

As an act, this is as intrinsic to the beautiful game as it gets. It is, quite simply, an essential part of football: the fundamental right of the shithouse, who only exists on the same pitch as their quite obviously far superior, more talented opponent because of their intrinsic ability and willingness to commit shithousery, to boot their opponents in the legs any time they get annoyed.

It’s in the footballing constitution. It’s part of the DNA of the game, right in the middle of the helix along with the inherent desire of goalkeepers to dribble around in their own box and corner takers to fire their corners into the first man just to listen to some twenty stone bloke in the crowd shout “CLEAR THE FIRST MAN FOR CHRIST SAKE” at them from the stands.

This is how it all started, in the mud and the bogs with steel toe-cap boots and pigs bladder balls. Just a bunch of uncoordinated lads with moustaches in their knickerbockers absolutely punting each other in the shins. That is football, I’m afraid. It just is. It always will be.

In his defence, that is absolutely perfect form. That is textbook

Here are some more reasons why this ‘horror tackle’ is, in fact, good:

  • It’s one of those tackles that is quite clearly borne of such a staggering level of frustration that it is just really really funny. Consider how far away from the ball he is. Consider how little effort he has put in to disguise the fact he has lost his head and just wants to twat someone for a brief moment of catharsis. Consider the calm, blank expression on his face as he commits the dastardly act like he’s Patrick Bateman chainsawing a receptionist in half. Consider how fucking hard he has tried to kick him. Both feet have left the ground! He has tried to slot him out of the stadium. He has actually tried to convert Yasser Larouci for two points.
  • The reaction of Gnagnon, and indeed, all of his teammates, was also beyond fantastic. Not only did they protest the red, which was obviously the only option the ref had been given, but they also argued for the carding of Dejan Lovren, who, moments earlier, had won a tackle completely fairly. How can you not respect that from a football team? That is an unreal commitment to the art. Hats off to them. Imagine if they had pulled it off, needlessly booting a Liverpool player for no reason AND getting Dejan Lovren sent off for a rare bit of actual good defending? Honestly. On the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, it was only fitting a bitchy football team from Andalusia also, in their own way, aimed for the stars. The shithouse stars.
  • That’s it to be fair. It is, obviously, mostly bad. It is an instance of complete and utter head-loss from the lad. But also in a way: very good. Extremely good. Is it a thing you love to see? I’m afraid… I’m afraid it is.

Here are some reasons why the Twitter discourse around this tackle is rancid:

  • It’s not a horror tackle. He’s literally just kicked him. He’s kicked him really hard and really on purpose, but that’s it. It’s not the potential career-ending challenge people are branding it. It’s nowhere near that. It’s just a good old-fashioned kicking. Malice intended? Sure. Would it break his leg? Have a day off, please. That’s a nasty bruise at best. That’s a dead leg in most cases.
  • It was in a friendly. Let’s just get this perfectly clear: the fact this tackle occurred in a friendly, which also saw Ever Banega throw an elbow at Harry Wilson’s face and Sevilla win with ten men after Gnagnon received his marching orders, doesn’t make the tackle worse. It makes it far, far better. It makes it incredible. More friendlies like this, please. More impossibly petty, shithouse-fuelled meaningless fixtures like this. In fact, do away with the Champions League and replace it with a neverending tournament that consists exclusively of teams that hate each other going at it over and over and over again. Liverpool versus Sevilla, Aston Villa and Leeds United, out-of-shape 2006 Portugal versus out-of-shape 2006 Netherlands and the winner of each tie is the first team unable to field an eleven from their first team squad due to all the match suspensions they have picked up. Tell me you wouldn’t watch that. Tell me. Because you would. I know you would.

A final point, and the final reason that kind of tackle belongs in football. Liverpool supporters, whilst LIVID at the potentially CAREER-ENDING HORROR TACKLE, were also pleased with the behaviour of messieurs van Dijk, Robertson and Henderson who, I am reliably informed, CONFRONTED Gnagnon after the game. Now now now now now now.

That’s what you don’t want to see. That’s rubbish. That’s pointless. I’m sorry, but as soon as Gnagnon gives Larouci a kick like that then the only possible course of action for a Liverpool player – particularly someone like van Dijk who, feasibly, could lift Gnagnon up over his head and throw him into the stands like he was in a Royal Rumble – is to immediately sprint over and retaliate in their own shithouse way. That’s it.

Not seeing that from the Liverpool players, who did a lot of pointing and shouting and gentle shoving, but nothing substantial, was a crushing disappointment. Why, for instance, has James Milner put his head down like an angry bull and charged directly at Gnagnon to impale him on his tiny Brylcreem extreme hold quiff? Why, for instance, has Fabinho allowed Gnagnon to leave the pitch relatively peacefully, instead of, say, sprinting up behind him and hacking at his ankles? Why, for instance, has Jordan Henderson not gotten right up in his grill, stuck a finger into his chin, and told him in no uncertain terms that there is a “world of pain coming your way fella, just watch”? Why why why why why?

The whole reason football fans love tackles like this is because you get to see how the other team react. What they are actually made of. How shithouse they are in response. And Liverpool, whatever they might tell you about being European Champions and gunning for the Premier League title this year, blah blah blah blah blah, flattered to deceive.

What’s the point in having the best defender in the world if he doesn’t march over and drop the nut on someone in a pre-season friendly because one of the youth team lads took a bit of a nasty one on the legs? Pfft. Don’t waste my time. Get out of here. Next.