A man with previous?
Roberto Martinez is an admirable manager who appears to be doing an excellent job with Everton.
Everton, if their more high-minded supporters can bear to hear this, are a club Sunderland fans can identify with. And their club walloped ours on Sunday after we had flattered to deceive only to crumble in a manner with which we are all too familiar.
There is, of course, a “but” coming.
According to reports of the match that ended Everton 6 Sunderland 2, Martinez has refused to criticise Deulofeu for the astonishing dive he produced in the 54th minute with the apparent intention of conning the referee, Andre Marriner, into awarding a penalty. We were then level at 2-2.
Marriner, whose refereeing has a habit of making Sunderland supporters want to pull their hair out, had a good game on Sunday. He was unmoved by the Spanish player’s theatrical gesture and booked him instead. As the Daily Mail put it, Deulofeu’s blatant act of cheating marred “an otherwise sparkling display”, adding elsewhere in its coverage: “He looks like a circus act one minute then a magician the next.”
Despite that barbed praise, he is clearly a good player as Sunderland found to their cost. And good players should not … well it’s pointless to finish the sentence as intended because so many good players, as well as bad or indifferent ones, do.
Over to Martinez, who can hardly be unaware of the rotten effect cheating in the highly publicised Premier League is having at every level of the game down to schoolchildren. Was he going to “have a quiet word” with Deulofeu? Had his player personally apologised for his outrageous simulation, which might have gained his club an unfair lead and caused a fellow professional to be shown a yellow or even red card?
Not a bit of it. Martinez blithely tells reporters: “Gerry is still adapting back to the British game. A winger always gets rough treatment from defenders, especially in one vs one situations like him. He is getting used to that sort of contact, what is permitted by the referees.”
Perhaps the Everton boss needs to learn a lesson from his predecessor David Moyes, who made no attempt to defend Leon Osman after his scandalous dive at the Stadium of Light – falling over with no defender near him yet somehow persuading Howard Webb he had been fouled – in 2011.
And Deulofeu, whose skill should be setting the Premier League alight, needs to be careful to avoid becoming known as a serial cheat.