A Dive Is A Fact But Save The Crocodile Tears
Last night’s results brought clarity to the chase for the Champions League places. Chelsea’s defeat whilst not occasioning their elimination mathematically, does in reality bring about the finality of their challenge this season, domestically at least. Petr Cech’s “Nayim” moment may yet prove even more costly for Chelsea. Yet their appearance in Munich occasions a thought that even though we have known for a long time that third was required, it will be a distinctly uncomfortable week waiting for that match if Arsenal fail to gain enough points through their own efforts.
Judging by some of the comments I read last night, you would think that Arsenal were doomed to failure already. It is simple two wins, third place. Anything less and we rely on others. Win on Saturday and the pressure reverts to Tottenham in their match at Villa Park; that is a tricky one with Villa needing in all likelihood a point to stay up. If they win, it goes to The Hawthorns where Albion will want to say goodbye to their manager in style. Both North London clubs have matches they should win; for differing reasons they might not.
Is this better than coasting through the final fixtures aimlessly? To me, it is; I would prefer obviously to be two places higher in the Premier League but at least the club is in a position to fight to achieve a placing when seven months ago we were routinely informed that the only fight would be against relegation. The sheer stupidity of those comments is matched only by the gut-wrenching now; utterly baffling.
To achieve their aim, Arsenal will require two disciplined performances. On a morning when it emerged that Jermaine Pennant faces court over various driving offences and has separately been charged with assaulting a woman in a nightclub, Arsène spoke of the ‘social contract‘ that players have as well as the need for justice in the game. Pennant’s personal life certainly breaks the first and the consequences of that may yet bear the brunt of the second, in a wider interpretation of his former manager’s context.
Tentative steps taken toward the latter aspect have been taken but I am not pretending to see what the future will hold in respect of video technology and its uses. Interestingly he opted to mention diving in his example since it something that he is au fait with from players under his command. And it is an issue that exposes the hypocrisy of football, talking loud and clear but is anybody listening?
Diving, for example. A guy wants to win and is tempted to use all of the tricks to help him. You cannot reproach him on the other side that they go as far as they can to help their team to win. That is why I believe it is important they know how far they can go, and if they go too far they are punished. Sometimes it is not [done] with a selfish attitude but with a desire to win and help their team to win.
Or as Shakespeare put it:
To win or not to win, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind
to fall to earth cheaply in an outrageous Dive,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of cheats
Football’s Pandora’s Box is open. The winning mentality begats a winning at any cost mentality; deceit is a formidable weapon especially in an area where neutered officiating rules. Too often the obvious dive is unpunished, most matches containing incidents where the Laws of the Game warrant application in this respect but the referee offers none. With that occurring, there is no surprise that the practice never shows any sign of abating.
Such antics expose other hypocrisy; supporters tolerate some of their own team displaying this trait (Pires) yet berate others (Eboue). Popularity counts for much not just in the stands but also the back pages. The xenophobic condemnation of the theatrics is muffled when one of John Bull’s finest perpetrates the act; Wayne Rooney rarely suffers the barbs reserved for his continental counterparts. Part of that is embedded in the psyche, a romantic notion that Englishmen never sought solace in the turf before the arrival of Johnny Foreigner. This is a convenient revisionism, Francis Lee and the 1970s never existed, eradicated through genetic engineering.
Education is the solution according to Wenger; “Shame them” cry the media but there is universal change across the game has to happen for it to be successful. In isolation any changes embody a commendable Corinthianism but will garner no reward otherwise. Let us not forget that this is a society where WADA sues the BOA over banning drug cheats, Policeman sue the Guardians. This is the architecture of our morality; a junk age personified.