Everton ace Neville puts the boot into wild tackling of serial offender Obi


Last updated at 23:29 09 January 2008

First it was Peter

Crouch complaining

of 'foreign divers'

and now Phil Neville

has done his bit for

race relations by claiming

Premier League imports

are guilty parties when it

comes to studs-up


More Premier League news

The player who stirred up

both England internationals

was Chelsea midfielder John

Mikel Obi.

Scroll down fore more


Crouch was incensed by what

he felt were theatrics from Obi

after the striker's two-footed

lunge at the Nigerian saw him

dismissed in the Carling Cup

quarter-final last month.

It was Obi's wild tackle on

Neville and subsequent

dismissal — his fourth red as a

Chelsea player — in the semi-final

of the same competition

on Tuesday that prompted the

Everton defender to offer his

views on the foreign influence

in the English game.

Neville said: "I think he went

for the ball. It was probably

with his studs showing but

foreigners tend to tackle like

that. I don't think it was with

any malice but you cannot do

that. That is the type of tackle

we want out of our game."

However, retired referee Graham Poll pointed out:

"Given that around 60 per cent

of Barclays Premier League

players are not English, then

you would expect the majority

of sending-offs for rash challenges

are for non-English people."

Legendary Chelsea hard man

Ron 'Chopper' Harris has some

sympathy for Neville's view,

saying: "Perhaps they are not

used to the pace of thegameand

not as used to the full-blooded

tackles as British players."

Obi is fast carving himself a

notorious reputation in English

football. Four dismissals in 16

months mean he has twice as

many red cards as goals for

Chelsea, and 13 bookings.

He has been sent off twice

this season for challenges on

Neville and Manchester

United's Patrice Evra which,

when shown in slow motion,

proved to be a fraction too high

if only one-footed.

Still, his

studs were up and the tackles

deemed violent by referees

Peter Walton and Mike Dean.

Obi was also sent off at

Reading in October 2006 on his

first Premier League start and

was dismissed again in the

Carling Cup Final, after coming

on as a sub and clashing with

Arsenal's Kolo Toure.

The Carling Cup incident,

which sparked a mass brawl,

prompted a lecture from

former boss Jose Mourinho.

"He told me I could not afford

another red card and since

then I've been careful with my

tackles and the way I go into

people on the pitch," said Obi.

But his short fuse had been

spotted by opponents who

would try to wind him up.

Against Manchester United

last May, he snapped under a

verbal attack from Alan Smith

and launched himself into an

ugly lunge on Chris Eagles.

The United players reacted

angrily and although Mikel was

only booked, Mourinho substituted

him at half time.

Obi must serve a four-match

ban but flew to Spain yesterday

to join Nigeria's training

camp ahead of the African Cup

of Nations and could be away

until late February.