Andy Townsend was talking to Alex Griffiths
I defy any manager not to have reacted as Tony Pulis did last week. Having watched helplessly as his West Brom side was denied a penalty and the chance to go a goal up at the Emirates, I sympathised with his post-match rant and for me it only puts the issue of honesty bang under the spotlight.
And just in case you think I’m backing him for hogging all the moral high ground, my opinion might just surprise you. Can you imagine Sanchez getting back up, as Jay Rodriguez did after being fouled, down the other end? Or Luis Suarez, perhaps, in the dying seconds of a Champions league semi-final? Well, nor should they!
Yes, I’m all for honesty and we all admired Jay for playing on, but I still reckon, away from the cameras, as soon as he had the chance, Pulis will have gone: “Do me a favour, son, and next time don’t get back up til you’ve got the decision!”
There is zero doubt in my mind that Rodriguez saved Bobby Madley the job of giving the spot-kick and that, as with the other high-profile examples I have for you from last season, staying down and throwing up his arms instead would have clinched the award.
Of course he would never chastise his player for being so honest in public, but I would be truly amazed if he did not grab a word in his ear in private at the very next opportunity. They get little enough when playing at the bigger grounds as it is without making life even harder on themselves.
Remember Coutinho in full flow in front of the Kop when he was clipped by Crystal Palace’s Kelly? A stonewall penalty if only he had gone down and stayed down, just as when City’s Raheem Sterling was blatantly shoved by Kyle Walker of Spurs before Walker joined Sterling in the Etihad dressing room in the summer.
Again, had Sterling only gone down rather than insist on getting his shot away, a penalty would have been duly awarded. It should have still been awarded anyway!
Such a large part of the problem is that referees don’t seem to feel able to give a penalty if the player fouled stays on their feet. So, until that changes, I think all managers should be telling their players to stay down and wait for the whistle. No one can tell me Rodriguez would have lost a shred of dignity if that is what he had opted to do.
At the other end of the spectrum we have the Alli dive correctly identified by Neil Swarbrick at Huddersfield. And I have a practical suggestion when it comes to diving and discipline to put out there.
A yellow for the offence of simulation could be distinguished from those for swearing, tripping or any number of less serious misdemeanours, just as some of us tot points up on our driving licence!
What I mean by that is this yellow does not get wiped from the record along with those other yellows, and if you are done again for simulation in a match then that automatically triggers a one-match ban.
I believe this would act as a better deterrent at a time when we are finally giving the cheats the attention they deserve, yet all too often a player will feel that the risk is justified by the reward.
Even though I’m quite sure that Dele, having embarrassed himself again, will have come out of the weekend kicking himself, I think we need to inject just that extra element of a threat to convince more serial divers to change their ways.