Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Gattuso versus Jordan - Fight Analysis

Following some interesting responses to a short video I posted to youtube, I thought I’d add a few more notes in this blog to support the clip.

For those who missed this story in the press a few days ago, the situation basically revolves around a footballer losing his temper with his coach, culminating in a confrontation at the end of the game where the footballer lands a head-butt on his coach’s nose before being pulled away.

What I wanted to do with my clip was not to go into the details of this actual event, who was at fault, the integrity of those involved, etc etc. For one, I am not a massive football fan and so don’t really know any background on anyone pictured in the clips let alone the main two protagonists in the altercation.

My aim is to use this footage merely to highlight some parallels between this incident and the types of violent confrontation that seems to becoming more and more commonplace on UK streets.

So lets get straight into it...

The main situation was preceded by an incident earlier on in the match where Gattuso came face to face with Jordan, and finished by pushing Jordan away by the throat. Again, I don’t know what led up to this incident or who was to blame, but what we can learn from this is as follows:-

Gattuso pushed Jordan away by the throat and then immediately turned and walked away. He did not hang around long enough to risk taking any retaliation from Jordan and he did not back up this single action with further acts of aggression. He was very animated and loud as he walked away, but in my experience, a lot of this is to hide an underlying nerves and lack of willing to continue a fracas that he has just instigated.

What we have to remember in incidents such as these is, often, the player knows he is surrounded by other guys who are likely to jump in and stop any fight before it really gets going. You can even seen a player from the opposing team walk over to Gattuso and try to calm him down. The fact that this player was able to place a hand on Gattuso’s face without him lashing out or knocking the hand away shows that gattuso wasn’t actually in a blind rage or fighting frame of mind, but was already happy to allow others to calm him down.

In addition, because nothing was really done about this action, and certainly nothing physical in return. Psychologically, Gattuso has now gotten away with it, which instills a few values in Gattuso at this point.

1. That Jordan is not likely to fight back and so vulnerable to further abuse – a safe target

2. That the it’s likely no one is going to step in a fight on Jordan’s behalf – he doesn’t have any dangerous backup

3. That those around are more likely to try to step in and calm things down rather than be additional threat – supports a feeling that others are also scared of him

Now we get onto the later incident.

At the end of the match, Gattuso is already spoiling for the argument and it’s no surprises that he heads back towards Jordan, the guy who he got away with being physical with earlier.

Obviously, I point out that I did not watch the match and so am not able to comment on other events that have happened or played a factor in how this final altercation came about.

Once the two guys are face to face we can see a lot of ballooning and posturing by both men, but certainly by Gattuso. This is a classic animalistic approach to try to scare your opponent in order that you can make him back down without actually having to fight him.
Sometimes this is because the aggressor doesn’t want to hurt his victim, but often it’s because the aggressor is actually a little afraid of instigating the physical attack, possibly a result of some self doubt.

I’ve seen this countless times where guys will act tough and aggressive and hope that it is sufficient to scare their target without having to get physical, and usually this is because they are actually afraid that if it does get physical, they may not have the tools to back up their threats.

My next comment is more of an assumption, and that is Gattuso, now surrounded by his teammates, is secretly hoping some of them step in to drag him away before it gets to the stage where he actually has to do something. Unfortunately, they are not as quick as he had hoped and so the situation very quickly moves to a stage where he has to act. The result is a very half hearted head-butt to Jordan’s nose. One which clearly doesn’t cause any harm or damage other than to surprise Jordan a little.

At this stage, we can identify a few areas where Jordan could have done better to protect himself, such as using more of a Fence position to maintain his personal safe space and monitor Gattuso before he threw the head-butt. It shows how vulnerable he was with his hands down by his side, and unable to react quickly enough to defend against this head-butt.

It also shows how fast situations can escalate from initial verbal confrontation, through to posturing and finally through to initial attack. It all happens in just a couple of seconds, leaving very little time to prepare, and defend unless you are observant and able to take necessary steps and precautions earlier in the preceedings.

What also happens next is classic of an aggressive individual who doesn’t really want to fight. The head-butt is delivered, and Gattuso steps back rather than forwards to continue the attack. As soon as the other players grab hold of Gattuso and he knows he is being held away from his target, he then launches into a violent “let me at im” rage.

Again, from personal experience on many occasions, I am fairly confident that if the guys holding Gattuso back suddenly released him, he would have remained there as if held back by an invisible barrier. I’ve seen many a “tough” guy being held back from fighting me and others by their girlfriends who are half their size.

It’s a classic case of the aggressor looking for a way out and an excuse not to have to fight, but still maintain face and appear to be the tough guy.
In both parties, Adrenalin is also running high. Gattuso will have built up his adrenalin in the minutes leading up to this event. Slowly growing the anger, the rage and the courage to start this course of action, which is very similar to attackers on the street who have to build themselves up, often egg’d on by their friends, before they instigate the attack.

Jordan, on the other hand, had a big dump of adrenalin the moment the head-butt landed. It wasn’t hard and certainly wouldn’t have stopped him from fighting back but the rush of adrenalin had more of an effect than the head-butt did. For a second you can see him freeze, with the realisation this had actually happened. Shocked, if you will, before he gathering his thoughts or simply reverted back to instinct and came back at Gattuso.

This is also confirmed by the statements following the event, once everyone had had chance to calm down and assess the career limiting actions that they had taken during the confrontation.
Adrenalin can play funny games with the mind, not least of which, the ability to shut down and bypass cognitive and rational/logical thought processes and revert back to instinctive and primitive decision making. The conscious decision of whether or not this is a good idea, can often be clouded or bypassed completely once Adrenalin has been invited to the party.

Situations such as these can be seen up and down the country on any Friday and Saturday night. Especially with the inclusion of excessive alcohol, we see scenarios played out on every nightclub door across the land.

However, once you start to look below the surface you can start to understand the processes that are at play. The psychology that is happening, even without the knowledge of those involved.
It’s primitive, it’s basic and understanding it can make a difference on how you should act in order to stay safer.

Joe’s first option should have been to avoid the incident completely. Especially after the first incident, he should have removed himself from the situation or had the player removed.

If this wasn’t possible, his next step should have been to notice the build up of aggression in his player and prepare himself for this.

Finally, by positioning himself more safely during the confrontation, by preparing for some kind of attack and having a safer “Fence” position with his own hands and body, he would have been able to take control over the fight without necessarily having to fight or strike back.

Worst case, he could have got the first shot in and ended the confrontation quickly and decisively. After all, if the head-butt had done it’s job, Joe could have been rendered unconscious and so all chances of protecting himself and using self defence would have been made redundant.

I hope this article has been of interest
Thank you for reading

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al Peasland
Personal Safety Expert

1 comment:

  1. InterestIng, knowing what I now know (re your presentations at GT masterclass and research) how it all makes perfect sence. The funny thing is though from a fans perspective is that Joe Jordan ( not Gatuso's coach by the way, he's on the opposition staff!) used to have an aggressive streak himself as a player and 30 years ago would probably head butted Gatuso's straight back!

    David Brown