It’s been called ‘the dive of the season’ which is a big call considering there have been some horrendous attempts to coax a penalty from the officials in the English Premier League in 2017/18. Crystal Palace, one of the most improved teams in the EPL under new coach Roy Hodgson drew the ire of fans and critics alike when Ivorian striker Wilfred Zaha went down too easily in the box against Manchester City recently.
Oumar Niasse (Everton)
EPL fans may remember Everton’s Oumar Niasse was the first player charged retrospectively under new FA rules for ‘successful deception of a match official’…ironically against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. The Senagalese striker was banned for two games in late November which was a huge blow to the Toffees as he was their leading scorer at the time.
Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United)
The Hammers midfielder was also banned for diving against Stoke City, with Lanzini suspended for two games. The Argentine’s dive broke open the game for Mark Noble to score in just the 19th minute.
It’s hard to tell whether there is more diving or simply a greater spotlight on those players looking to deceive the match official this season. Punters will remember Richarlison’s dive for Watford and Manchester City’s Bernando Silva who was ‘creative’ in manufacturing a penalty against Burnley at Etihad Stadium.
Our issue with the Silva penalty was that it once again broke the contest open and put the Citizens up 1-0….this was no dead rubber goal. It also made Sergio Aguero the equal highest goal scorer in the history of Manchester City (alongside Eric Brook with 177 competitive goals). We highlight those facts because divers have a very real impact on the game and the records that history will remember.
The overriding problem and common thread in all of this diving nonsense is that no team is immune. There isn’t one team who can claim to be ‘above’ diving. Every striker feels like they have deserved a penalty at one time or another during their career and every defender has pushed the envelope to stop a goal scoring opportunity; risking a penalty in the process.
The FA needs to bump up the penalty to 3 games and have an accumulative system where repeat offenders are punished with a longer time on the sidelines. For those that might be thinking ‘that’s too harsh’ look at it this way; the suspension is not a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction, rather a panel of three (an ex-player, ex-match official and ex-manager) have to agree on the decision after the game.
If you’re favourite striker hasn’t done anything wrong…then they have nothing to worry about!