Bravo, Mauricio Pochettino.
Finally, not before time and thank heavens, a Premier League manager has publicly derided one of his own player’s for diving.
Adrian Clarke, football odds expert, gives his two-cents on the biggest Premier League debates. This week, he’s all over the eponymous “Dele Alli dive”.
Just when everybody expected the Spurs boss to dodge a question put to him over the yellow card awarded to Dele Alli for a ridiculous piece of simulation at Huddersfield Town last weekend, wasn’t it marvellous to hear the Argentine confess he wasn’t happy about it?
“He must learn. This type of action doesn’t help him, doesn’t help the team and doesn’t help the football”.
– said Pochettino in a calm, but really rather scathing manner.
Good on him. Many a coach would be worried about upsetting a key man, but Pochettino was bang on with his assessment.
When will Dele Alli learn? pic.twitter.com/XtoW6xAvl2
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) October 1, 2017
Alli’s reputation as a footballer may be excellent, but a growing list of misdemeanours now marks him down as an immature bad boy in the eyes of many football fans, including his own.
A lot of people don’t like him.
This will impact on how he’s received inside stadiums and by opponents, and sponsors may potentially look elsewhere for brand ambassadors. His willingness to con officials could hit him in the pocket.
His dives won’t help Spurs either.
You could argue they have in the past. The 21-year-old has won an awful lot of ‘soft’ penalties since joining Tottenham. However, his reputation is now tarnished.
When you type the term “Dele Alli dive” into a well-known search engine, around 242,000 results pop up in a flash.
So match officials will go into matches well aware that Alli can’t help himself, and we all know what happened to the boy who cried wolf too many times.
When he’s next genuinely felled inside the box, I wonder if the ref will give it?
If there’s the slimmest element of doubt, you can be sure play will be waved on; and that’s bad news for his team.
As for football as a whole, there’s an obvious need to eradicate this previously tolerated form of footballing fraud. We are tired of injustices.
While it’s pleasing to see a panel formed with the power to punish divers retrospectively, we still need tougher sanctions. I’d like to see heavier bans.
Yet arguably more powerful than any official punitive action is the prospect of angering your manager.
Until now players have known their gaffer will be secretly thrilled to bits with them for ‘going down’ inside the box to earn penalties.
Selfish, one-eyed attitudes have prevailed.
Many players will have privately been patted on the back for their artful duping, and in the past (and I was among them) footballers have been berated by their boss for failing to ‘make the most of contact’ inside the area.
That’s why I view Pochettino’s stance as a watershed moment.
On this issue I’ve always felt that coaches held the key.
If more managers take the Spurs chief’s outlook, one of public condemnation, then it’s sure to alter the mindset of their own players.
The last person a footballer wants to anger is the boss.
Gareth Southgate says England are benefiting from the work done by Mauricio Pochettino and his coaching staff. #THFC pic.twitter.com/FGbNXAlVJI
— Spurs News Today (@TodaySpurs) October 1, 2017
Those in the dugout must understand that ridding football of the diving culture is good for them in the long run too. All of them have been victims of a dive, as often as profiteers.
Fairness must never be frowned upon.
I desperately hope Pochettino’s honest criticism of Alli paves the way for others in his profession to follow suit.
Making lame excuses for cheats is an embarrassment that’s gone on way too long.
Players need to be named and shamed. It’s the only way.
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