Call it what you will but diving, simulation, or cheating is never too far away from the Respect column and this week is no different.
On Sunday Manchester United’s Ashley Young went down all too easily under the challenge of Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark to win his second questionable penalty in successive home games.
And on Wednesday a Champions League semi-final first leg which will live long in the memory of Chelsea fans as their side take a 1-0 advantage into next week’s return in Barcelona, was overshadowed by the antics of goalscorer Didier Drogba.
The Ivorian appeared to spend a large proportion of the game prone on the pitch, on his back, on his knees and nursing a variety of injuries and ailments in what seemed to be a clear effort to run down the clock. The worrying thing was he started his antics shortly after kick-off.
His Lazarus-like recoveries merely exacerbated the situation leading to both former Chelsea man Pat Nevin and Robbie Savage to seriously question the 34-year-old’s behaviour.
“It was really embarrassing,” said Nevin, speaking on Radio Five Live. “About the fourth time he went down in the first half he actually was injured – he was winded – but the referee ignored him, and that is the problem when you cry wolf just once too often.
“I never dived in 750 professional games and people will say now ‘wow, that’s amazing, that’s fantastic’ but no, that’s normal.
“That’s the way it was in the game. Because it is no longer the normality we accept it (diving) now. In the last few weeks I’ve heard people saying, about Ashley Young, ‘oh he was touched so he had the right to go down’, I don’t accept that.
“I just don’t think we should accept it in the game, but it needs retrospective action from either the referees, or more particularly the FA or UEFA, and that’s the only way it can be stopped.”
Young’s antics saw former Manchester United skipper Bryan Robson raise concerns that his reputation may cost his side in the future.
Robson said: “He’s going to have to be careful because people are scrutinising it now.
“The thing is, it could be in a really important game where there’s a blatant penalty and he’ll not get it because he gets a reputation for the diving.”
Robson spent 13 years with United at a time when diving was far less of a problem. He is now an ambassador at Old Trafford, and believes Young must question his own behaviour.
“He’s a sensible lad and he’ll stand there, look in the mirror and think ‘I’ve got to be a bit more careful and stay on my feet a little bit’,” added Robson.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted after last Sunday’s game he thought Young overdid his fall, but said referee Mark Halsey was correct to award a penalty.
That incident came exactly a week after QPR captain Shaun Derry was sent off by Lee Mason for a challenge on Young inside the box.
Before we get too carried away with Young and Drogba the pair are not alone in being accused of simulation – as the football association prefer to call it – and unless Nevin’s call for retrospective action from governing bodies is heeded, there appears little sign of it going away.
Tags: Ashley Young, Aston Villa, Barcelona, Bryan Robson, Chelsea, Didier Drogba, Manchester United, Pat Nevin, RESPECT