Much has been made in recent weeks of how diving is ruining football. Usually the sports commentariat's buzz topics - goal-line technology etc etc - bore the pants off me but I must say something really does have to be done about diving.
The always-simmering debate was largely sparked by Ashley Young's theatrics at Old Trafford against QPR and then re-ignited when Young earned another incredibly soft peno a week later against Aston Villa. Yup, that's the same Aston Villa who used to pay his wages and gave him his first shot at playing Premiership football. While Young's diving didn't probably alter the outcome of either game (Man Utd almost definitely would have beaten QPR and Villa at home regardless of the gift goals) it was unseemly and disrespectful to his fellow pros, especially as both sides are relegation-haunted.
In Chelsea's 1-0 win over Barcelona, Didier Drogba picked up the mantle from Young and ran with it. And then fell over. Loads. In fact, it was like his (ludicrously pink) feet were made of warm butter. In the first half, he surely spent more time rolling around on the floor clutching some (completely uninjured) part of his body than Chelsea did in possession of the football. While Drogba failed to get any Barca player sent off (surely his intention?) his quite despicable actions marred what was an otherwise thoroughly impressive performance from a well-drilled Chelsea, who stuck to their game plan expertly and frustrated Barca. During the game Twitter was abuzz with condemnation for Drogba. It sounded out praise for the likes of Ramires, Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole, who were all excellent.
Some will say that diving is just a part of the modern game. They'll (rightly) point out that I'm an old-schooler who has been reared on technique-light, commitment-heavy lower-league hoofball where crunching tackles (go Clint Hill!) are as much admired as tippy-tappy build-up play. But surely even long-time Premiership watchers agree that something really should be done to at least try and eradicate diving?
The truth is far too few yellows are brandished for diving and retrospective action against blatant divers is never taken. Action should be taken because dives can seriously alter the outcome of games and even seasons. Call me massively biased but can we all be sure that had Young not dived to reduce QPR to ten men after 15 minutes and win his side a pen that QPR wouldn't have got something out of that game? Should QPR end up being relegated - which, sadly, looks increasingly likely - Young's cheating will be contributory if even in a minor way. The cost of relegation? Reportedly £90 million. With this in mind, I'd like to see Young left out of the Euros squad. That would send a strong message, a message that cheats do not prosper. It'll never happen obviously. Unless they give the England manager job to me or Ian Holloway.
Mahoosive show-off Neymar ruins a sweet dribble by making a massive meal of a challenge: