I used to laugh at the question but thinking about it now, I guess it depends on how you define ‘coached’.
Liverpool may have a throw-in coach, but to my knowledge they don’t have a member of staff that stands on the training pitch with Mo Salah helping to perfect his diving technique.
It isn’t like we have training sessions where we throw ourselves to the ground.
And you won’t hear a manager telling his players to dive. The whole process is subtler than that.
Before a game against Chelsea, my manager at Stoke, Tony Pulis told us that we should get the ball around John Terry’s feet because he always dives in and that if he does we should make the most of it.
You cheating little c***”, you’re a f***ing joke
That is the way the dark art is usually conveyed to the players and everyone knows the score.
The trouble was that we couldn’t actually get the ball anywhere near John Terry’s feet to test the theory.
Personally, I found that side of football incredibly difficult to take on-board, even though I understood the necessity to play for every little advantage.
The one thing that any of my coaches will tell you is that my approach to football was hampered by outbursts of huge frustration at the way the game is played at the top level.
I’d get frustrated at everything, but nothing more so than players dropping to the ground to win free-kicks, which I believe is a bigger epidemic than diving to win a penalty.
Cesc Fabregas was the worst for this.
When facing his own goal under pressure, his legs would collapse while his arms hit the heavens.
He’d get a free kick every single time.
During a game at the Emirates when I played for Reading, I had Cesc pinned in by the corner when he performed his dying swan act.
When players on your team do the same thing it is like a gift from the Gods in terms of relieving pressure and buying the team some time.
But when it happens to you it’s the most frustrating act of gamesmanship.
Cesc picked himself up and walked straight in to my volley of abuse.
“You cheating little c***”, I barked, “you’re a f***ing joke”.
He probably thought the same thing about me, but either his English wasn’t up to par to tell me, or he just let it wash over him.
The truth is, he had me at that moment.
I didn’t understand the game in those terms and it was to my detriment.
The teams I played in were largely too honest to engage in that sort of thing but at the elite clubs, they’re all doing it.
Winning ‘cute free kicks’ is part of the game, but for many of the players I played with it was an alien concept.
So was Cesc coached to dive as a kid at Barcelona’s fabled La Masia academy?
It’s hard to say for sure.
But I do know that some academies show their proteges clips of matches that they’ve played and point out that perhaps they should have gone down at a particular moment or committed a foul when a counter attack was on.
I’ve seen it and I understand it, but I don’t like it.
For the record, Paul Scholes is the best player I’ve ever played against.
And no, he didn’t dive.
Source: Read Full Article