After watching his Tottenham side profit from two such instances recently, Mauricio Pochettino has shocked precisely nobody by speaking out in favour of diving in football.
Spurs conned two penalties in their 2-2 draw against Liverpool at the weekend when firstly Harry Kane and secondly Erik Lamela threw themselves about in order to ‘exaggerate/instigate contact’ to successfully swindle themselves a couple of uncontested efforts on goal.
Pochettino described the dives as “minimal details” and complained that English football’s moral fixation on diving and the like is “killing the game” by stifling creative expression.
So creative. So… expressive.
Talking at his weekly press conference, Pochettino discussed his standpoint when it comes to the conniving dark arts at some length:
Football is a creative sport in which you need the talent that grows in a very intelligent person, a very smart brain. And now we are so focused on minimal details.
I am worried that in a few years, we are pushing the sport we love now – a passionate sport that people love to watch around the world – into a very rigid structure. With VAR, with focusing too much on small actions like this.
Football is about trying to trick your opponent – yes or no? Tactics – what does ‘tactic’ mean? When you do tactics, it is to try to trick the opponent. You play on the right, but you finish on the left.
Twenty years ago, thirty years ago, we all congratulated a player when he tricks the referee like this.
That is the football that I was in love with when I was a child. Yes, in Argentina, but in England too.
You believe that in England you were honest and always perfect?
Honestly, it feels like Pies, who happen to find diving, etc, to be utterly repugnant and entirely against the principles of competitive sport, are now simply a futile minority fighting against a prevailing tide.
It’s not just the major dives – the headlong sprawls to win penalties – it’s the hundred little ones that take place every game now: players under pressure cheaply escaping from tight spots by waiting for a touch and hitting the deck; attackers chucking themselves under the bus or dragging legs in a vain hope of artificially creating a foul – it literally goes on all game, every game.
It’s hard to tell if something is fundamentally broken with football or if times have changed and our old-fashioned viewpoint is now simply redundant.
Are we out of touch? No, it’s the children (and worryingly, a majority of adults) who are wrong.