Here’s what we know about Tyrone Mings vs Nelson Oliveira. Fighting for the ball, two players fell over. The foot of Tyrone Mings impacted on Nelson Oliveira. Nelson stood up holding his face before falling to the ground. Mings flagged down play to call for help. The referee stopped play and proceeded with the game after the Reading striker was substituted. Mings stayed on the pitch and was not disciplined during the game. This, by all accounts, was described as a stamp.
‘Stamps’ are part and parcel of football. Much like the ‘reducer’ or the two-footer and the handball. These rule-breaking incidents happen more often than we realise or are willing to admit, and all teams are capable of them. This one was performed by an Aston Villa player on a Reading player. How you feel about that doesn’t really matter by the way but these are the facts. We all have opinions on this but they don’t have an impact on anything and are largely meaningless. Your opinion may have been swayed by the fact Nelson posted a picture of his horrifically shattered face after the incident. That doesn’t matter. This is like all opinions but with a difference as we are using these opinions to formulate a case either against or for the player.
The trouble? No matter what you think or what you feel, you are nothing more than impotent in the matter. No, there is nothing at all wrong with having an opinion on the matter - but demanding that action takes place based on this? It’s folly, right? Reaction to Mings vs Oliveira is nothing if not subjective.
And why is that? Well - the evidence of the incident that forms the basis of all our opinions on the clash is a single clip of footage. There’s no zoom, and no other angle. All we see over and over again is the pair tussle, and fall - with Mings landing on Nelson every single time. We see nothing but the same clip and all that we can do is formulate our own opinions full of inherent bias. We have ex-players voicing concerns. Norwich City YouTubers voicing concerns. Ex-Villans voicing concerns. There is a toxic void here and it is overfilling.
Our opinions on the matter are still largely useless, no matter what we feel. But we are still very much wont to air them out like they do matter. Like chastising Mings puts us on a higher moral plane or that defending him will serve us well should there be an afterlife.
I feel that a big part of it is that we as football fans want to feel as though we can deliver some impact on the game. We scream and shout and chant for some reason, right? Maybe it’s the focus on results that causes all of this. The difference between winning and losing is oftentimes compared to the difference between life and death. It’s total absolutism. If we care so much about winning, we need to feel like we can boost our team to win the match and any pitch-based incident that we feel wronged by is blew up. In 2019, we will seemingly go to any lengths to back our football club - and these lengths are at the extreme obscene end of the spectrum. It’s fitting that some would be willing to condemn an innocent man and on the other hand it’s fitting that we would be willing to defend someone who is dead guilty. We are playing out both roles - and performing less thinking while we do so. We are projecting ourselves onto Tyrone Mings - and questioning the hypothesis of ‘what we would have done’ - but that does not hold any water. At all. It’s baby science.
If Mings had deliberately stamped onto Oliveira’s face, the main question would be why? Why would you do that? If he didn’t, why wouldn’t he move? There’s a lot of questions to this but the truth is that there is one single person who knows the full story - and that is Tyrone Mings. Whether he meant to stamp on Nelson’s face or not - your thoughts on the matter don’t matter and that’s because you’re wrong. Whatever you think is wrong and flawed and not because you hold the best of intentions, but because you actually don’t know what happened. Defenders of the action do not know what happened. Body-language and mobility experts do not know what happened. Footballers and referees do not know what happened. There is one single person on earth who knows what happened, and he is not your nor I or Twitter.
One side of the ‘argument’ (if there is an argument at all, and the worst thing is that both sides would likely switch if the roles were reversed) is probably some distance towards being right - but what does that win? Does it mean Nelson’s face wasn’t crushed under a boot? Does it subtract the pain? Does it punish the offender? If Mings is totally in the clear, does that take away any of the abuse he’s had? Does it absolve anyone of anything? No, it does not. All of our opinions on this matter are inherently flawed and we seem to be talking very loudly at the moment about them.
Get well soon Nelson.