I don?t get to many matches nowadays, living in the footballing wilderness that is Oxfordshire, but I?m going to the West Ham game this weekend with my three young sons, who I have brought up to strong, if remote, Evertonians. Incidentally, the amount of Liverpool fans round here (adult and child) is both alarming and sickening.
A good blue friend of mine called Mike once wrote a book (unpublished) called Old Trafford Sainsburys ? he hates Man Utd more than Liverpool and always has. I?m talking 20 years back, where he forecast the trajectory of football towards an industry akin to that of supermarkets. You decide whether he had a point. More amusingly though, he told a story in that book about a Jim?ll Fix It episode where some deluded juvenile tit asked the white-haired madman if he could score a goal at Old Trafford (empty stadium of course). Bobby Charlton was (and indeed still is) the Man Utd PR vehicle so he was the celebrity guide for the youngster to fulfil his dream. Problem was that he turned it into a Man Utd advert, which would have been part of the deal of course.
This was back in the day when Man Utd were crap incidentally, always the media darlings and tipped for big things soon, but consistently failing. The specific moment that so irritated Mike was when Charlton stood, as part of the slot, and gazed wonderingly during a 360 pan of the stadium whilst stating ?It?s the theatre of dreams, the greatest stadium in the world?. How many fucking young people did that influence?
Mike?s argument was that this should, in a similar vein to party political broadcasts, have carried a message along the foot of the screen saying ?This is the view of an ex-Man Utd player and someone who is on the payroll of Man Utd. Young people in particular are cautioned to view other stadia and football teams, particularly in the proximity of where they live, before deciding if they should accept this statement?. Parents would have probably had to explain the meaning of all that admittedly.
Anyway, all of that is irrelevant really to the point of me doing this. The reason I?ve decided to put something out there is mainly to try to distract us all from the incessant arguments about the team, the manager, the chairman, the finances and the bleeding results ? which are the only things that actually matter of course. I hope to do this by highlighting that still controversial and potentially result-changing issue of diving (I refuse to use the ?s? word) and to relate that in a potentially unreasonable way to the two recent subtractions from our squad.
My 12-year-old boy got the DVD of the Rapid Vienna game as a Christmas prezzy from his grandad and I watched the entire game for the first time since the event itself a couple of nights ago. Bloody hell! I hadn?t realised how footy was so different then, still of course based on the same principles, but a very different game to watch. I should explain that I have never really watched any of the 80s matches in full, except when I was there myself as a youngster.
What struck me more than anything (except perhaps the backpasses) was the referee?s decision making. I counted about 30 incidents in the game that would nowadays have been without doubt a free kick. Contact was allowed! Nowadays, every piece of contact (or potential contact) seems to require a decision from the referee. Decisions that he will inevitably often get wrong as many players continuously try to con him. I didn?t see one instance of that in the Rapid Vienna game.
Anyway, the problem for me is that there have been too many incidences in recent years of Everton players getting in on this conning the referee act. And the Yak and Pienaar were undoubtedly two of the main culprits. The Yak has embarrassed me on so many occasions as he wasn?t just a diver, he was a rubbish diver. He almost never got the decisions when he went down, the referees would just ignore him. Really they should have been either saying to him ?That was crap, don?t do it again? or booking him. This leads to honest players also not getting decisions when they are genuinely fouled. I can?t remember the exact incident, but there was one with Bainesy not so long ago that had me screaming.
There?s no such thing as being ?entitled to go down?. It?s cheating and I hate it. It makes me cringe and turn away when I see one of our players doing it. For me it takes the edge off a goal if it comes from a free-kick or pen that a player dived to get. The idiot pundits on MotD excuse it week after week. I see players in my 12-year-old?s team starting to do it and it makes me sick. Play an honest game and hold your heads high, it doesn?t have to be this way. What happened to yellow cards for diving anyway? If a player goes down and raises his hands claiming foul and the ref doesn?t give it, then he?s essentially accusing the player of diving. Book him then!
Here?s my assessment of our current squad?s dive factor:
Howard ? diver, well he is a goalie.
Hibbo ? not a diver
Jags ? not a diver
Distin ? not a diver
Neville ? not a diver
Bainsey ? not a diver
Heitinga ? probably not a diver but ?
Arteta ? diver (sorry, I love the man but he goes down too easily)
Rodwell ? not a diver (please don?t become one)
Bily ? gets the benefit of my doubt
Ossie ? not a diver
Coleman ? not a diver
Fellaini ? just about not a diver
Now the tricky bit:
Saha ? more diver than not
Beckford ? not a diver that I?ve noticed
Vaughan ? I don?t think he?s a diver, haven?t seen enough of him lately to judge
Anichebe ? diver, taught by Yak it would appear
Gueye ? didn?t dive in the 10 minutes of play he?s had this season
Of course it gets harder when you move up the pitch as players there get tackled more, but Bainsey is an example of an honest attacking player (yes I know he?s a defender but he attacks a lot) who is as honest as the day is long and would never go down unless forced to. Have you worked out that he?s my favourite player yet by the way?
Just to confirm:
Yak ? diver and very bad at it
Pienaar ? dives every time someone looks at him, then fiddles with his socks whilst he has a little sit down.
Oh and as an aside? Gerrard ? biggest fucking cheating diving bastard on earth.
No doubt there will be many that disagree with my assessments. I?m sort of running out of energy with this now and haven?t really made the points I intended but perhaps it?ll open a discussion. I do think referees should clamp down on it, as they should with dissent ? particularly with that fat sweaty bald Manc scouser I once loved.
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1 Posted 19/01/2011 at 18:26:07
My little lad plays in a U12s team, and was involved in a game last season, were an opposing player went down as if he had been hit by Tyson, got up when the pen was given (it wasn't a pen by the way), looked over to the sideline, gave the manager a thumbs up, the manager then gives him a thumbs up back, the manager turns to the lad next to him, and says "That's how to win a pen"... Justice for me, was that we went on to beat them 11 - 3.
When the kids are seeing players diving on the tele, they think its okay, sad really.
2 Posted 19/01/2011 at 18:35:53
As you say the game has changed, it has evolved and players have had to adapt, to not only get a decision from the ref which will help the team but might also prolong the players career in the long term. Going to ground easy his become part of the game and is a skill in its self. Some players are good at it like Arteta and some crap at it like Yakubu.
3 Posted 19/01/2011 at 18:52:38
I remember when we did the league & cup winners cup double in 1985, and Granada had a live program of Man U coming back with the cup! I often wonder if we had beaten them, would they have shown our victory parade with 3 trophies.
Always have been media darlings
4 Posted 19/01/2011 at 20:47:05
I don't think I have ever seen Arteta win a penalty for us, certainly not by diving, the only recent dive I can remember was Hibbert's and I think that was him just fainting because he was in the opposition box.
if you want to see outright promotion of a football club by a supposed neutral body, you only have to look at the 5 minute "advert" for Liverpool and Dalglish before the Derby game, truly sickening.
Also. why are Liverpool always referred to as Liverpool Football Club, as if they invented the game, when Everton are Everton, Chelsea are just Chelsea, Arsenal just Arsenal, they are all football clubs.
5 Posted 19/01/2011 at 20:58:39
6 Posted 19/01/2011 at 21:32:38
A queston for you, James: Are you sorry he dived ?
7 Posted 19/01/2011 at 22:02:52
I'll do it for you....Not a Diver.
8 Posted 19/01/2011 at 22:31:54
9 Posted 19/01/2011 at 22:33:04
Make the refs similar to those in rugby, give them mics so we can hear what they are saying and make them harsh. If the players backchat after a decision is made move the ball ten yards closer to the goal. If a player swears give him a yellow card, it would be a sharp learning curve but they would learn quick.
Bring in an honesty system for divers. When a player goes down the ref asks him if he dived. If the player says no and after the game the cameras show he did ban him for 3 games. Managers would soon be telling players not to dive.
10 Posted 19/01/2011 at 22:42:30
Oh no my mistake, he's not diving just sinking.... in a sea of debt, lies & incompetence. Reaching new depths of embarassment for our club with each new transfer window.
11 Posted 19/01/2011 at 22:56:00
A lot of the 'C' word being used let alone F and S.....and these were directed at the refs. I.e.you 'F' 'C' and you blind 'B'!
I think the refs should be allowed to book players for swearing at them. You only need to lip read on the TV to work out that the players are not saying 'are your sure?' when they get a decision against them.
On the diving note - personally I think the things can be taken care of pretty easily if only the refs got some balls. Just book a player whenever you think he dived. You may end up booking a couple of players that were genuinely fowled but if the players thought there was a zero tolerance, they would stop doing it.
The whole game has double standards. Babel gets fined for saying the ref is shite on twitter and on the same day Walcott admits to diving to get a pen and the FA does absolutely nothing about it. He even says he laughed about it with the ref after the game!
12 Posted 19/01/2011 at 23:33:24
Briefly a few of my own comments starting with Larry #4, the RS have the word football tacked onto its title as the only way to differentiate it from Liverpool dog pound, Liverpool sewage works etc.
Nick #5 and Denis #11, Foul & abusive language is still an offence. Referees cannot give a Yellow card for it.
He can only give a verbal warning or a mandatory Red card.
Marc #10, How did did BK get into this topic?
13 Posted 20/01/2011 at 02:53:59
14 Posted 20/01/2011 at 03:12:41
15 Posted 20/01/2011 at 03:36:31
I remember one of my favourite players, The Rat severely embarrassing me a few years ago when Vinny of Wimbledon fame touched foreheads with him and the Rat went down as if the proverbial sniper in the crowd had taken him out.
Peter Warren - I don't condone the dive that Limpar took but from where I was sitting in the Bullens down at the other end, when I saw the challenge, I wondered if Anders would ever be able to play again. Rose tinted spectacles, I suppose but a classic example of how good players are at the whole thing.
Even my Kopite brother thinks it wasn't a pen in the last derby but the lack of accountability afterwards makes the whole thing academic. I can't stand Aussie Rules but at least over here they have a video tribunal which is very busy after every round of matches, making sure that decisions are the correct ones. Having said that, of course, you can kill someone in Aussie Rules and still stay on the pitch for the rest of the game.
I think diving is the one big obstacle to 'soccer' over here. They think we're a bunch of big girls and softies the way we roll round the place. In my indoor 5 a side league we quite often come up against teams of AFL players who are just taking part to keep themselves fit in the close season. Low on skill but they really make their presence felt. It we are going to dive, then they make sure we have something to dive about!
16 Posted 20/01/2011 at 02:54:05
17 Posted 20/01/2011 at 04:35:55
There appears to be a total ban on any physical contact in the Premiership and thats really stupid. Football is a contact sport but the game at the top level has been sanitised to the point of sterility.
If we know when a player has dived then so does a ref. But its worse than that, if a player falls under pressure outside the box, 99 times out of a hundred its blown as a foul. Conversly if the player goes down in the box under pressure its hardly ever given! So whats the score here guys?
FIFA has to take the blame for this, no one else. Do I think it protects the great players? No.. not a bit. Does it improve the game from a fans perspective? No.. sorry I don't think so..
Does it make it more exciting? No.. no passion..stop start..
What we have is a version of touch rugby.. next thing will be a definition of a tackle is removed from the rule book...
18 Posted 20/01/2011 at 08:02:41
Peter #6, I knew someone would find a challenging example and yours is probably the best. However, Andy #15 has done a decent job of answering that so I'll leave it there.
Marc #10, your comment made me laugh. It's makes me wonder whether I should have assessed Moysey too - no, I'm getting into the area I was hoping to distract us all from!
Peter #7, I don't know why I left TC out, I remember thinking about him and rapidly coming to the same conclusion as you.
19 Posted 20/01/2011 at 09:06:39
Roman Sidey 13 # Quite right, I don't see why any thread on any topic can't be used to take the piss out of those mis-managing our club.
James Lauwervine 18# This diving index of yours may help solve a mystery about another player you didn't mention ... Mucha
Perhaps he can't dive & this explains why he doesn't get a game, no matter how many mistakes Howard makes this season.
20 Posted 20/01/2011 at 10:18:59
21 Posted 20/01/2011 at 11:26:11
Yakubu has to be the most cringeworthy diver though - they are so blatantly obvious. Unless there is a sudden shift of pies within his digestive system that causes him to lose equilibrium, of course.
Diving - the scourge of the modern game, along with dissent and keeping the ball near the corner flag to waste time.
22 Posted 20/01/2011 at 12:11:48
Taking the ball to the corner flag is hardly a new thing. You must remember Moggsy doing it . . .mind you he did add a little humour by checking his imaginary watch as he did it
23 Posted 20/01/2011 at 12:24:21
24 Posted 20/01/2011 at 13:33:04
25 Posted 20/01/2011 at 15:04:55
I was 15 years old, only a few yards away from him, best memory of that Final for me as he was my favourite player, along with Chico and Alex.
26 Posted 20/01/2011 at 15:35:09
Great pictures of Reidy playing on with blood pouring out of a stud sized whole in his shin. Their goalie actually complained after the game that Everton had been over physical and Sharp and Gray had roughed him up at every set piece.
27 Posted 20/01/2011 at 15:51:01
If someone had the foresight to ban divers after the game if it was missed then you might make them think twice about doing it, sadly it is widely condoned by family friendly prats who masquarade as football "experts"
28 Posted 20/01/2011 at 17:23:12
29 Posted 20/01/2011 at 17:27:47
John boy, however had read the script, and at the exact point that Dalgleish was about to dive, he stepped smartly away leaving at least a few feet of daylight between him and the actor. Dagleish then did his dying swan act - pushed over by the invisible man, and when the referee waved play on, proceeded to chase him, red faced and screaming his protest, while Bailey turned to us blues behind the goal, shrugged and grinned a grin that was priceless to see.
I wondered on Sunday, whether one of the more unsavoury chants aimed at Mr Dalgleish, had its roots in this incident. Or is that just legend being born from fact - distorted by the mists of time. Perhaps others who may have been there that day have some memory of that priceless moment.
30 Posted 20/01/2011 at 18:46:54
31 Posted 21/01/2011 at 00:12:58
32 Posted 22/01/2011 at 19:05:10
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