Few topics divide opinion as much as diving, but are we now at a point where English football has lost its identity?
Simulation is something that will always be debated in football. As we all know, referees do have a hard job to see if someone has dived and attempted to gain an advantage through cheating or whether they have had enough contact to go down. It seems like the slightest touch felt by players, they will hit the deck and claim the foul.
Back when the Premier League had just been introduced in 1992, a hard tackle which won the ball was a fair challenge. Now, however, it is seen as dangerous play. Days where players like Roy Keane made his name through tough challenges and Ron Harris earned the nickname 'Chopper' for his style of play are now gone.
Gareth Bale is someone who has been in the spotlight of late, not only for his fantastic performances for Tottenham but also for his yellow card count through diving.
Diving has increased of late due to the fact that players are able to get fouls through the slightest of touches. Therefore, they are sometimes able to act as if they have been touched. Furthermore, players sometimes leave their foot in with the intention of getting touched to fall down.
However, as was seen in the last minute of Manchester City's title winning game against QPR, it is always easy to stay on your feet when touched. Sergio Aguero had a slide challenge on him but because it was so late on and in a great position to win the game, he stayed on his feet and scored. So why have the rules changed on strong tackles?
European games have shown us that other leagues have a very different way of playing. For example, just to name a few players who have been known for going down too easy: Sergio Busquets, Thiago Motta, Cristiano Ronaldo. When teams from England go up against teams from other European countries, the different styles of football clash quite a lot. Therefore, English players also do what it takes to gain an advantage from a referee.
Furthermore, due to the transfers of players to the Premier League from other leagues, simulation has increased. Watching players like Eden Hazard and Santi Cazorla go down very easy surely makes other players feel they can do the same. English players are now as bad as other players from all other leagues at simulation - Ashley Young, for example. It is not good for the game and the rules have changed in order to accommodate the change in style of play.
Defenders now have an extremely hard task to win the ball without committing a foul as simply winning the ball does not count as a good tackle anymore. The tackle must be along the floor, not touching the opposing players with the first or second leg and cannot be a strong tackle.
It seems like the game has lost the identity it had back when the Premier League was introduced.
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