Ashley Young’s dive inside the box against Aston Villa last Sunday, opened a can of worms. However, Sir Alex Ferguson and former Manchester United right-back and Sky Sports pundit, Gary Neville chose to sit on the fence and watch the rest of the world tear each other apart.
After winning the match 4-0 against Aston Villa, Sir Alex in his post-match interview said: “I think he (Young) played for the penalty. If the player decides to put his foot in and doesn’t stay on his feet and read the situation, he has fallen into the situation. But he’s definitely taken him. It was a dramatic fall. He overdid the fall but it’s a penalty, there’s no doubt about that and I don’t think they can have any complaint because he has taken him.”
Sir Alex tactfully gave two contradicting answers to the same question: It was a penalty, but it was a dramatic fall.
Gary Neville on the other hand was bluntly asked by the Sky Sports presenter to summarize Ashley Young’s penalty in one word. Gary did not deflect his question but rather chose to give a diplomatic answer: “Yes it was a penalty and yes it was a dive.”
When the tv presenter pointed out that it was cheating, Gary Neville for the next 15 minutes on Sky Sports, showed video clips of some of the best players that he has played alongside – Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham – have all dived at least once in the past.
He also boldly agreed to having dived for a penalty during his playing days at Old Trafford and that 95% of the players today go down easily looking for a penalty.
Which makes one want to know how is it a penalty, if it was a dive? What does the 95% have to do with Ashley Young, who dived to win a penalty against his OLD CLUB.
In which universe is theatrically going down not a penalty?
So ten players diving to win a penalty makes it morally right to dive to win a penalty?
Ashley has been doing this since his days at Villa and he is not the first player that Old Trafford had seen go down easily. The world’s most expensive player was once accused of simulation. He won a few and lost many penalty appeals despite an illegal challenge that had knocked him of his feet. His reputation preceded him and whenever he was genuinely brought down by a opposition player inside the box, the referee waved play-on or booked him for simulation.
“I think he is paying for his reputation. He did have a reputation (for diving) when he first came over here but that has gone now,” said Ryan Giggs about Cristiano Ronaldo getting booked for an alleged dive.
Professional Players Association (PFA) chief, Gordon Taylor thinks otherwise and stops short of saying that it is ok to dive.
”As a player, if contact was made and you felt you had lost control, or you were not in as good a position as you were, then you were not exactly told but, as a professional, would be expected to try to make the most of the opportunity.
“That is the more cynical side of the game, bearing in mind what is at stake.
“You are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
The damage has been done and it would be futile for Sir Alex to knuckle down Young’s habit of going down without much of a contact inside the box. The next time when Young appeals for a genuine penalty, Sir Alex will be praying that the referee gets it right at least this one time.
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