The issue of diving in football has again reared it’s ugly head following the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester United, with managers of both teams either accusing their opponents or defending their own players.
In the spotlight are 3 players – Nani, a gifted player known for sometimes going down to easily, Hernandez, who looks like and honest and hard working professional, and finally Peter Lovenkrands, who fell after a challenge from Anderson on the edge of the box, but was given neither a penalty nor a booking, the latter of which Hernandez DID receive in injury time.
Looking at the 3 incidents separately you would have thought that out of the 3 it would be Nani who received a yellow card after falling in the area when there was obviously no contact. A talking to by match official Lee Probert sufficed, and the match continued. In the 58th minute Lovenkrands fell after what I saw a SLIGHT touch from Anderson, but the manner in which Lovenkrands fell, the full repertoire of twisting the body, screaming, sprawling on the floor and finally shouting at the ref was no help to the player.
Finally, with time running out and United looking for a winner, Hernandez fell in the box after an even slighter touch from Danny Simpson. Again, the fall did Hernandez no favours, as he landed on both feet, and the fell to the floor. This time though the player didn’t call for a penalty, he was in the process of shielding the ball and getting back to his feet when the referee blew up and booked Hernandez for “simulation”. And this is where the problem lies.
With the game becoming faster paced with every season it is getting harder for the officials for judge the play. Hernandez didn’t deserve a booking, even if he did hit the ground, as he tried to play on. But if Chico is booked, then why wasn’t Nani or Lovenkrands? Nani was looking for a penalty, and if Lovenkrands wasn’t fouled, and Anderson didn’t get the ball, surely by the same logic Lovenkrands should also have been booked?
For those that have played competitive football they will know it is actually possible to “anticipate” a foul, maybe not to the level that Rafa Benitez claimed David Ngog “anticipated” a challenge from Lee Carsley at Anfield, by leaping a full foot over at Carsley’s leg and then somehow landing as if his legs had been viciously taken from under him, but to the level whereas fast feet and a crowded penalty box can result in a penalty.
What the league needs is for incidents to be looked at the next day by a panel, and bans/fines given in retrospect. I know this would mean a possible ban for Nani under these rules, but it would also mean Hernandez being cleared of any wrong doing. Any diving then would soon stop for fear of bans, and managers, in their post match interviews, could concentrate more on their teams performance and short comings instead of one incident.
This could now run and run, with Ferguson and Pardew having completely opposite opinions on the 2 main penalty area incidents, both defending their players, but bizarrely both managers praising the referee. And who says there is no respect for the officials!