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Anorak | Spurs: Pochettino is right, Alli’s cheating is just part of the game

Spurs: Pochettino is right, Alli’s cheating is just part of the game

by | 7th, February 2018

Watching live sport is thrilling. TV does not come close to capturing the experience of being there. TV offers new and multiple angles of the game, but it’s a directed, edited, desk-based view that comes loaded with problems. When a player cheats, in the ground it’s a trigger for outrage and a vociferous celebration of values that the injured party’s side is essentially nobler than the opposition. The atmosphere builds. We love it. But on the telly it’s a catalyst for debate, none of which shines the merest glimmer of light on anything but the pundit’s vanity.

When Liverpool took on Spurs at Anfield, the visitor’s Dele Alli dived in the box. He wanted to trick the referee into awarding him a penalty. Cheating. It was blatant and punished – Alli got a yellow card and cemented his reputation as a nasty so-and-so. That Spurs did get two penalties during the match, neither of which was clear cut, only added to the spectacle. The post-game chatter contributes nothing.

And three days after the match, the hollow debate guffs on. The Mail leads with Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, who has had the temerity to say that footballers should “congratulate the player when he tricks the referee…. Football is about tying to trick your opponent. Yes or no? The problem is that we are too sensitive about the situation… It was a yellow card, the referee was right…. If you dive and the referee saw you, you are punished and he deserves it. But don’t go more crazy.”

Spot on. Sport is about rules. You know them by pushing them to the limit and breaking them. Some rules are more rigorously enforced than others. For example, in how many games does the goalkeeper handle the ball when kicking from hands? Lots of them. But the goalkeeper still handles outside the area because he can get away with it. In December 2016, following another fall by the slippery shoed Alli, Pochettino said, “when I was a player always it was part of training to try to cheat. At Newell’s, many, many years ago it was part of practice.”

Pushing the rules is all part of the cut and thrust of a live game. It’s only in the TV studio where every 90-minute match must produce 24-hours of deathless rolling-news that every trick, feint, dive, offside and foul is forensically examined until all the fun, drama and spontaneity have been sucked out of it.



Posted: 7th, February 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink