Why tiresome Salah diving storm helps mask footballs bigger

Why tiresome Salah diving storm helps mask footballs bigger

Its certainly a strange old world, football.

Its a world where trivial i sues can be amplified, given prime-time Gerardo Parra Jersey prominence and endle s air-time, while other, more serious matters are left alone, brushed under the carpet, to be kept there until someone is brave enough to shine a light.

Witne s, for example, the Spygate scandal at Leeds United last week; the story of Marcelo Bielsa instructing a member of staff to covertly observe a Derby County training se sion. The reaction to that bordered on the hysterical, with talk of moral codes and quaint notions of respect between clubs and managers.

The point mi sed by the likes of Martin Keown, Jermaine Jenas andStuart Pearce, all of whom voiced predictably strong, indignant opinions on the matter, is footballs fiercely-competitive nature, the fact that any advantage, be it financial, tactical, physical or psychological will be sought by its participants.

Observing rivals training se sions is not new, nor it is a breach of the sports ethics, certainly no more than, say, a player texting a friend at another club to find out their likely starting XI. Believe me, they both happen regularly.

The i sue of diving is another which is guaranteed to bring footballs moral arbiters to the table, and theyve been queuing up of late to have their say on the latest storm. At the eye of it stands or falls, if you prefer Mohamed Salah.

It is one of those curious statistical quirks that since Boxing Day, Liverpool have been awarded four penalties in four Premier League games, with Salah responsible for three of those. Prior to that, the Reds had been awarded just one spot-kick in their opening 18 league matches. Salah, of course, won that one too,against Saturday's opponents, Crystal Palace.

Last weekends penalty proved decisive, settling a tense encounter with Brighton at the AmEx Stadium.

Afterwards, with little else to discu s after another clean sheet and an 18th league Brandon Belt Jersey win of the campaign for the league leaders, the debate centred on the Egyptian, and whether he was in danger of 'making a name for himself'. And not the good kind.

I think hell have to be careful, said Andy Gray, the former Everton striker and one-time Sky Sports commentator. Im a little concerned how easily Mo Salah is going to ground these days, especially in the penalty area.

Richard Keys, his partner in crime at Sky and now BeINSports, agreed, addingI think hes getting into the habit of making the most of challenges.

At the AmEx, the Brighton supporters booed Salah until the final whistle, chanting "1-0 to the referee"as Liverpool sealed the three points.

Their ire really should have been directed towards their own player, Pascal Gro s, whose naivety and lack of defensive instinct proved so costly.

Gro s, just as Mamadou Sakho, Paul Dummett and Sokratis Papastathopolous did earlier in the campaign, paid the price for allowing Salah to get behind them, reacting in a panic by making Jandel Gustave Jersey contact with the forward. In this day and age, its a game not worth playing.

And that, really, is the rub.

Pundits such as Gray and Keys or ESPNs Craig Burley, who labelled Salah "pathetic" after he tumbled against Newcastle on Boxing Day belong to a different era, to a sport with different rules.

They criticise Salah or Harry Kane, or Raheem Sterling, or Jamie Vardy, or Wilfried Zaha because they dont understand the way the sport has evolved, and is continuing to do so. They see things in black and white, with nothing in between.

Funnily enough, there seems to be none of the same outrage when, lets say, a defender facing his own goal waits for contact from an attacker in order to win a cheap free-kick and relieve the pre sure on his side, or when a full-back tells the referee he got the ball when the world Buster Posey Jersey can see he did anything but.

In both cases, the aim is the same; to force the officials into a decision, to gain an advantage for their side.We can take it further, too. Compare, if you will, the reaction to a simulation incident to that of a potential red-card tackle.

Which damages the game more, a player going to ground when having his shirt pulled in the penalty area, or a 13-stone defender flying, studs showing, into another players ankle, shin or knee?

Witne s how those same pundits, brought up in a world where leaving a bit on an opponent was to be applaudedencouraged evenmake allowances for such challenges. Part of the game theyll say; aggre sion is to be admired, but winning your side a soft penalty is not, even if the aim of both is the same.

This is not a Liverpool moan, although the Reds do currently have a player, Joe Gomez, sidelined after a ball-winning challenge from Burnleys Ben Mee last month. A fantastic tackle, Sean Dyche called it. Presumably, the Clarets bo s would be equally impre sed if it was his player on the receiving end?

Rather, this is a debate which cuts to the core of football in this country.

Going to ground under a foul and Gro s challenge on Salah was a foul, dont let anyone tell you otherwise can earn you a reputation, yet endangering the safety of Andrew McCutchen Jersey an opponent can be excused, accepted.

You cant take tackles out of the game, Mee said. His views will be echoed acro s the sport, no doubt.

And yet we have seen rule changes designed to do Steven Duggar Jersey exactly that. The tackle from behind was outlawed in the 1990s, with rules tightened further before the 1998 World Cup. It was a sensible decision, even if it made life tougher for defenders, who were forced to modify their game, to stay on their feet more, to be le s reckle s as a result.

In this correspondents view, the same sort of clampdown is needed on challenges which take the ball but at such force that the follow-through puts the opponent at risk.

We know the type, and it would be nice to see managers, players and pundits begin to accept that tackles which break bones, rupture ligaments and split shins are as much part of the game as terrace racism, crumbling stadia and the Cup Winners Cup.

The game has changed, the rules have changed, and it is time attitudes changed.

As for Salah, his job is simple; to keep doing what hes doing. And if defenders refuse to learn the le sons of Sakho and Dummett, Sokratis and Gro s, then more fool them...

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