We shouldn’t be surprised really…
Read the majority of match reports following Manchester United’s unspectacular 3-1 win over Preston North End in the FA Cup and you could be forgiven for failing to miss the big talking point of the day. Did Wayne Rooney dive?
Let’s be clear about this to begin with; it was a dive. He dived. He cheated. But once again the England star gets off scot free from his blatant simulation.
Just think back to the response Arsenal’s Eduardo got for diving in 2009, or Luis Suarez throughout his time at Liverpool. Just how disproportionate can it get?
It was quite hilarious to hear Phil Neville attempt to defend the United and England captain by saying he had to take ‘evasive action’ for a ‘reckless challenge’ – this from a man who just weeks ago was justifying maiming Tomas Rosicky for daring to do a no-look pass – but he wasn’t the only one with a quite ridiculous response.
It seems the British press almost collectively were falling over themselves to either offer up excuses or simply ignore the evidence altogether.
Here’s their on the whistle responses to the Rooney incident:
“There was still time for Rooney to score, his penalty coming after Stuckmann dashed from goal to floor him rather recklessly. There were subsequent suggestions of a dive but that was something of a side issue….”
Nothing to see here. Keep moving. Side issue. Side issue.
“Rooney may have gone down a bit too easily under a challenge from Preston keeper Thorsten Stuckmann, which probably explains why he was only shown a yellow card instead of a red.”
Oh that Rooney! Good on him though, spared the Preston keeper getting a red card with his dive. What a gent.
“But United made sure of their progress with two minutes to go when Stuckmann sent Rooney tumbling, although there were some suggestions he might have dived, and he stepped up to send his penalty high into his net.”
Call a spade a spade and say what it actually was.
“Rooney added United’s third from the spot after being tripped by Stuckmann.”
If we don’t mention the dive, it didn’t happen.
“Rooney added a third from the spot after being brought down by Thorsten Stuckmann, and Louis van Gaal’s side now have a home tie with Arsenal at Old Trafford in the quarter-finals.”
Seriously, stop mentioning a dive. It didn’t happen.
“Fellaini then bundled United ahead from close range on 72 minutes as the hosts began to run out of steam before Rooney won and converted a penalty to spare his side’s blushes once and for all.”
La. La. La. La. La. La. I can’t hear you.
Embarrassing, I think we can all agree.
This is the same press who see this country as the bastions of the game, the standard bearers, the people who show the world how it’s done.
But the minute there’s any evidence anyone from these shores has done anything remotely wrong, the shutters are slammed down and the moral arbiter is suddenly silent and unavailable for comment.
Special mention should go to the The Times, Guardian and Daily Telegraph, however, who were the only definitive voices calling Rooney’s dive for what it was.
“…Rooney won and converted a late penalty after diving to evade the lunging feet of Thorsten Stuckmann, the Preston goalkeeper.”
“…and Rooney was central to the most contentious decision of all, sprawling over Stuckmann’s challenge in the 87th minute when no contact was made.”
“They even added a third that came wrapped up in controversy involving the England captain and simulation. Wayne Rooney was running into the box when Preston’s keeper, Thorsten Stuckmann, came haring out, sliding in, forcing Rooney to hurdle the challenge which he managed but then elected to fall to earth rather than stay on his feet.”
But if three newspapers are the only dissenting voices in a midst of whitewashing and denial, how are we ever going to rid the game of the scourge of diving?
Steven Gerrard is light on his feet, har har har, but Cristiano Ronaldo is a diver. Michael Owen was clever to win a penalty against Argentina but Eduardo Da Silva is a cheat.
Xenophobia? Jingoism? Whatever the reason for the continuing denials it has to stop. English players dive. It is an indisputable fact.
The next time someone with a more continental sounding surname takes a tumble just measure the furore of condemnation and moral outrage it will whip up compared to now.
It would be hilarious if it weren’t so disturbing and disheartening.