A clumsy fall harshly punished, or an attempt to cheat his old mates? What do Salut! Sunderland readers think about the moment Phil Bardsley went down in the penalty box? …
Over at the Republik of Mancunia site, with which we had good relations in the build-up to Sunday’s game, a lot of people have been having a go at Phil Bardsley.
Bardsley was booked for simulation after going down in the box after good interplay with Fraizer Campbell put him in a dangerous position that should have produced a quality cross and an an equaliser.
Republik of M – whose reproduction of the photographic evidence is a good deal better than ours – is in no doubt. Beneath the headline “Phil Bardsley – hang your head in shame”, it says:
“Salford born Phil Bardsley joined Manchester United’s academy when he was 8-years-old. Before leaving Old Trafford in 2008, he was the only player in the first team squad who had progressed through all the levels of our academy.
He was brought up near our old training ground, The Cliff, and used to go there during the school holidays to watch his idols train.
So it does make you wonder why with 55 minutes played and United leading 1-0, Bardsley chose to throw himself to the floor in a bid to see Sunderland win a penalty and Ryan Giggs, the closest man to him, booked, or worse, sent off.”
Leaving aside the fact that United players also cheat from time to time, Salut! Sunderland restates its own position. We have been entirely consistent in attacking all diving, all feigned injury, all attempts to get opposing players booked or dismissed.
Watching in the ground, I though Bardsley had simply slipped on the wretched Stadium of light surface. One of the frames borrowed from RoM shows Bardsley throwing up his arms in apparent appeal for a penalty.
If that genuinely was in his mind – and we have to accept that Steve Bennett, having the best game I have seen from him, interpreted it that way – then the yellow was fully justified and I would be disappointed that any player in our stripes should act in that way.
This is what I said in response to a comment posted here by RoM’s Scott the Red:
If he (Bennett) was right, Bardsley should be fined a month’s wages for turning a goalscoring opportunity into a yellow card. And I accept without hesitation that no United player or official has ever so much as thought of cheating in any shape or form. From SAF to the lowliest apprentice, MUFC observe the Corinthian spirit without exception or complaint.
That remains my view. But I’d love to hear from Mr Bardsley, who – to be fair – looked genuinely surprised and upset when booked, which added to my feeling at the time that he had simply lost his balance. The arms need explaining, though!