Manchester United: Time for Sir Alex Ferguson to Take a Lead on Cheating
It's OK. I know other teams and players do it, but frankly, I'm fed up to the back teeth with the cheating that is going on.
Irrespective of whether Ashley Young was offside against QPR, he dived and got a fellow professional sent off.
Now, I still think that Ashley is a decent bloke, but I cannot think what on earth he was doing other than trying to get a penalty. It was enough to incense Mark Hughes.
Sir Alex was good enough to acknowledge that Young was offside, but described him as off-balance.
To be fair, it wasn't as obvious or blatant as the Andy Carroll swallow dive against Newcastle, and what was worrying for Kenny Dalglish about that one was that Carroll had a clear-cut scoring chance but chose to fall down.
United Have Cleaned Up Their Act a Lot
Cristiano Ronaldo could be embarrassing at times, and eventually, his antics became counter-productive. This probably affected the whole team, and not just Ronaldo.
Nani has also cleaned up his act. The problem is that he was falling down so often that in the end he wasn't getting decisions he should, like the disgraceful Jamie Carragher tackle that dug a hole in his leg through his shin pad and should have been red-carded.
You will see very few United players dive now. Rafael is one. He might have had two yellows for diving against QPR.
So we may assume that Sir Alex is trying to stop it happening if the frequency has dropped. He missed an opportunity on Sunday to come out and condemn it. This would have stolen a march on his rivals and might just have started a revolution in football—at least in the Premier League.
Even Bigger Problems in Europe
Ashley Young's dive had Manchester United supporters ringing the Paddy Crerand show on MUTV to say how embarrassed they were. Driving away from Old Trafford on Sunday, I had an uncomfortable feeling because QPR had played well.
I still think United would have won, but we don't want to win the League this way, with penalties wrongly given or opposition penalties wrongly denied. We shouldn't need that.
But there is far worse in La Liga.
It's all very well Ronaldo complaining about opposition players, but his teammate, Pepe, is an absolute disgrace. He goes down at the slightest touch, screaming when there is nothing wrong with him. In Real Madrid's latest match, one of his own teammates told him to get up, for which he got kicked in the knee.
It has been suggested that some Spanish coaches tell their players to go down if they are touched, gaining what they regard as a legitimate advantage. It's no wonder people are worried we will end up with football being a non-contact sport.
Millions can now rest on one game, and a result can be determined by one decision. It costs at least £20 million in lost revenue if you are relegated from the Premier League, and probably at least that amount for elimination from the Champions League.
Individually, a team may lose a penalty, and therefore, a match. An individual can be booked or red-carded.
There is no easy answer, because we can't even get video replays for balls that cross the line, let alone penalty decisions.
I am an advocate of the ability to retrospectively punish players for cheating, and this happened with Ronaldo after his ludicrous simulation at the 2002 World Cup.
That set a precedent that hasn't been followed through by FIFA.
So the answer is for managers themselves to stamp it out. What does Jose Mourinho think when Pepe chucks himself down screaming? What does Pepe think when he gets a player yellow-carded or sent off?
So there is evidence to suggest that Sir Alex won't tolerate diving or cheating from his own players, but did he miss a trick on Sunday?
If he had come out and publicly criticised Ashley Young, he would have enhanced Manchester United's reputation and put down a marker for other managers to follow.
After all, he is the most respected manager in the game. If he sets an example, others will follow. Then we need never be embarrassed again.
But United would win the Premier League anyway.
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