Tottenham Soapbox: a lesson for galloping Gareth from another Welsh maestro

Jake captures the moment
Jake captures the moment

If Pete Sixsmith was unimpressed by Gareth Bale’s latest attempt to prove that possession of towering skills brings an entitlement to dive, he wants cruel, unusual and inhuman punishments introduced for the sort of theatrics shown by Defoe. As for Bale, he’s big club flavour of the month so MOTD pundits naturally sided with him; the least hint of contact, however trivial and even innocent, apparently means the player can go down to claim a penalty (as opposed to completing a superb run with a great goal). They were wrong. Pete nevertheless acclaims a strong Spurs performance that brought Sunderland down to earth a little after the heroics against Man City …


Let’s start off
by saying that I thought that Spurs played well, looked a potential top four side and were as well balanced as any team I have seen this season.

I also thought that we played well in patches, showed a lot of resilience and possibly just about deserved a draw.

However, after the excitement and euphoria of Wednesday, it was a bit of an anti-climax to serve up in front of Monsieur Salut. Losing Danny Rose was a big blow and it showed the problems that we have with the squad in that there was no obvious replacement for the Tottenham loanee.

With hindsight (a gift that I have used with monotonous regularity throughout my life), Jack Colback would have been a better selection in that position. Matt Kilgallon did well enough, but when it came to the crunch in the 49th minute, he was found lacking and Aaron Lennon won the game for Spurs.

That rounded off a very disappointing three and a half minutes for us, as we had gifted them an equaliser courtesy of a Carlos Cuellar own goal. That came after we had given the ball away close to the visitors’ goal, forcing Cuellar to bring down the scampering Lennon.

The free kick was cleared but the resultant corner was headed in by the Spaniard, spoiling what was another good game for him. Then Lennon scored the winner.

Sunderland1Spurs2
Half time discussion had been firm on the fact that we needed to start well and maintain the pressure on the North London dilettantes. Alas, we were unable to do this until it was too late and instead of building on O’Shea’s goal, we were chasing the game.

We had done well in the first half and probably deserved to be ahead. If there were any natural justice, we would have been playing 10 men after an outrageous dive by Jermain Defoe, who, on losing control of the ball on the edge of our box, plunged to the ground and rolled over.

Martin Atkinson either failed to see it or ignored it. Had he acted on it, it was a booking, but this kind of blatant cheating should be a red card, a long suspension and then a ritual disembowelling.

The later stumble by Bale was the one that grabbed all the headlines and exercised the Brains Trust on MOTD on Saturday night. Bale was, according to the trio, the greatest player since goodness knows when. He was clearly clipped by Gardner and it was a bang on penalty – so they said.

What they failed to point out was that any player worth his salt would have retained his balance and gone on to wrap the game up with a third goal – always assuming that the Welsh Wonderboy could have got the ball past the excellent Simon Mignolet. Bale had had a decent game but not an outstanding one; my money would have been on our Belgian keeper saving it.

Happy new year! Monsieur Salut, by Matt
Happy new year! Monsieur Salut, by Matt
See also M Salut’s article and ensuing debate at ESPN – http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/864?cc=5739:

‘Graham Poll … supports the Bale decision and says the knee contact came only after Galloping Gareth had begun his tumble. I recognise … there are at least three views of this incident: dive, foul and no dive but also no foul’

Pete Sixsmith continues: I am old enough to remember Cliff Jones from the double winning side of 1961. He was as pacy as Bale, scored as many goals and, to the best of my knowledge, never once fell down as he was gently touched by a passing full back. Galloping Gareth could learn a lot from him.

This was another decent performance from us, albeit one that left us with nothing. Colback had an excellent game in a midfield where he was given plenty of room and Larsson worked hard to try to neutralise the base that Sandro (what a good player he is) and Dembele tried to give Spurs.

The two wingers were not quite as effective as on Wednesday, but McClean helped Kilgallon out an awful lot in the first half, showing that he is an important player when we are struggling.

Going forward, I felt that Fletcher looked a little tired, although Sessegnon had a good game and was routinely fouled by any passing Spurs player.

But, at the end of the day, they had a little bit too much for us. It was revealing that, when the final whistle went, their players, coaching staff and supporters did not hail Bale as their match winner. To a man they went to the French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who had had an outstanding last half hour, particularly when we were dropping some decent centres into the Spurs box. His punching the ball away was a great lesson for any aspiring keeper and I am sure that Mignolet will have learned a bit from Lloris.

The other results left us in a relatively comfortable position and the explosion of goals from Ashburton Grove cheered us up no end as the Salut! Sunderland Christmas Party congregated in The Garden of India in Darlington.

A point or three at Anfield on Wednesday would be more than welcome in our campaign for mid table respectability. However, after having faced Ridgewell and Bale, we are now up against a man who makes Tom Daley look like a novice; let’s hear it for Luis Suarez, a man who falls over at the drop of a hat. Could be an interesting night.

See also: Monsieur Salut talks all things Sunderland at ESPN FC:http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland?cc=5739

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35 thoughts on “Tottenham Soapbox: a lesson for galloping Gareth from another Welsh maestro”

  1. The current thinking seems to be that contact equals a foul. The rules say otherwise. Shoulder to shoulder contact IS allowed and slight contact elsewhere should not be used as an excuse to go down. I think watching in real time often is better than slow motion. In real time Bale went down much too easily.
    I recall the England v Argentina game when Hoddle had told Owen ‘if you get in the box go down’. Owen did so and it was clearly a dive. This at the highest level percolates down and is entirely shameful. Some fans justify it against Argentina or in a winning cause but not me.
    See Gary Nevilles’ analysis where he essentially reflects current morality (in other areas of public life) by saying that if you win a penalty for your team even though you could have stayed on your feet then it’s justified.

  2. William C, Skinner was a real footballer ,obviously given the treatment by Parkinson but he did play for Barnsley after WW2.

  3. Pete. Might we summarise Rugby League as a game where players try their utmost to stay on their feet despite the best efforts to take them to the floor whereas football is increasingly characterised by players seeking to go to ground when their opponents have very little to prevent them going on their way?

  4. As it goes I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the education sector myself Malcolm. That is the other reason I always want the last word!

  5. The Spuds responses to this article just underlines all of those reasons why I can’t take fans of Tottenham Hotspur seriously. Some of the lads who came on the other thread started to disabuse me of this life long notion, but this lot here have helped me to readjust and recalibrate my equilibrium.

    There’s some of the most ignorant rubbish we’ve seen on here in a long time being dignified with a response. It’s far more than they deserve.

  6. Will,I can picture the likes of Billy Boston, Neil Fox and Brian Bevan going down if they were merely touched!!! It would have taken a JCB to knock Boston over if he had a sniff of the try line.Even nowadays, the likes of Ryan Hall, Sam Tomkins and Tom Briscoe take some knocking over.
    The lure of Rugby League is increasing all the time. I want to watch a game where cheating is not encouraged by coaches and where players do not go down as easily as some do now – and I include Sess in that.
    Apologies for upsetting Spurs fans with my view on the game; it has spoiled my whole 2012.. We all have opinions – mine happens to differ slightly from yours. I did think the better side won but thought we might have salvaged a point. But I was clearly wrong.

    • I would love to get Michael Parkinson’s view on this subject. His alter ego was one Skinner Normanton, apparently a legendary Barnsley fullback, who reguarly re-positioned flying wingers in MP’s youth. [ I’m actually not sure if Skinner was real, or a figment of Michael’s imagination, but one or the other, he knew all about ” contact “.

  7. Bale dives, but the look on his face afterwards and his sunsequent comments suggest that he honestly believes he has been fouled every time he is touched – even if it’s a touch so slight that it would fail to dislodge a feather. Replays of his latest effort clearly show that he was already diving when contact was made, with his right foot off the ground and pointing at the grass. His problem is that he has been coached into his mindset. Stephen Taylor, he of the orange tan and the predisposition to ridiculous acts of cheating on the field, said on TV that he’d been coached to fall over if he felt any contact, and people like Hansen, who keep churning out the pathetic phrase “entitled to go down” merely reinforce the opinion of such players. If the amount of contact made on Bale was a foul, then no corner kick would ever be taken beacuse there would be three sending offs before the ball was kicked.
    I’m not condoning the pulling and pushing that goes on, but players who look at the opponent and not the ball when putting arms around that opponent are committing a foul.
    Bale is as much a victim of the recent style of coaching as a successful product of it – but he dives.

    • Agree completely with this. In his interview on MOTD Bale said there was contact. Clearly, the spirit of the law is that if a player brings down another then it’s a free kick. We now have the letter of the law not only being applied but deliberately coached. So the slightest brushing of a shirt sleeve against an arm could be deemed contact and the player goes down. The phrase “entitled to go down” is as insidious as “he’s won a penalty” rather than “he’s been awarded a penalty”. The MOTD pundits are as guilty as anyoneand supporters who want to see a fair but physical game are getting rightly fed up (to put it politely).

    • When I played football [ at a very modest level ] there was ” contact ” in almost every tackle. Football is a contact sport.

  8. Perhaps sprinter and rugby-playing Will was stopped in his tracks by a nudge but in many years of watching League and Union I have NEVER seen a player fall in such a choreographed way as Bale.Greaves used to take all kinds of knocks but stayed on his feet usually to score a goal.By way of digression I couldn’t understand why Louise Taylor in The Guardian signally failed to mention Mignolet’s fine performance.Another example of ‘big club’ syndrome,even though she’s north-east based.

  9. It seems that Bale is overshadowing the comments on the game as Vic states so I’ll join the trend by asking:

    Is it just me or is Bale just a steam train? He just seems to run along a diagonal knocking the ball in front of him while opponents back off – hardly a claim to greatness. And, is he really so much faster than any other player?

    I know he has scored some good goals and appears to be two-footed but really, if all it takes to be lavished with praise is a turn of pace and being able to play football with both feet (shock), it doesn’t say much for the standard of players in this league, does it?

    Pete, on the subject of Sessegnon, I am beginning to tire of him falling over in search of a free kick whenever approached by an opponent and routinely giving the ball away leading to opposition shots on goal. In my opinion, he is walking a fine line between asset and liability.

  10. What a load of bullshit, Bale was fouled, when someone is kneed while running its not all that easy to stay up… defoe should have booked… a shortsighted and one- sided article… awful

    • Graham Poll, one yellow card eccentricity and a lot of showboating aside, wasn’t a bad referee and disagrees with you. He says in his Mail column that contact with the Gardner knee came after Bale had begun his tumble. Contrary to your comically exaggerated assertion, Pete’s article is fair and balanced, expressing praise of a fine Spurs side, whatever argument you – and I – may have with his belief that we just about deserved a draw. Had our late pressure started a lot earlier, it might have been a different story. But by the time it did begin, you would have been 3-1 up had it not been for Bale’s preference for fall rather than finish and Mignolet’s brilliance.

  11. Diving is terrible and I support it being stamped out in our game. Too many players do this and the punishment should be harsh. Retrospective punishment is fine with me. In this game Defoe dived and would have deserved a booking. Bale did not. Clip someone’s knee running at full pace and they will lose their balance. It was a penalty clear and simple and the referee acted on Bale’s “reputation” and not the facts.

    Just as bad as diving is the growing practice of simulation of injury which is harder for a referee to act upon for fear of ignoring a true injury. This is becoming more of a problem than diving and it is intended for the purpose of getting a player sent off or booked and also for stopping the game when their side is under pressure. I’m also seeing payers feigning and injury to cover their own incompetence. Retrospective action on this would be the best way forward.

    As far as the game went, it was a good contest that Spurs deserved to win and probably by a greater margin and it’s a shame that the “Bale controversy” has become the biggest talking point.

    Incidentally, I used to watch Cliff Jones regularly and the flying Welshman was often accused of diving for the same reasons as Bale. Although I would concede that the game back then saw far less of this and certainly the feigning of injury was never seen, in fact the reverse was the case as players wouldn’t like their opponents to see they were hurt.

    • Good points, Vic.

      I disagree that it was a clear penalty and thought the ref, who generally had a pretty good game , had an excellent view of the incident.

      But I recognise an honestly held opposing opinion when I see one (we are united in the belief that cheating should be punished whether committed by players of other clubs or our own. I will just repeat an earlier response: only Gareth Bale truly knows to what extent he made a meal of it.

      He, and players generally, have only themselves – and the managers who instruct them – to blame if disgraceful conduct over many years has led referees to err on the side of severity.

      I am 100 per cent with you on feigning injury, now so routine that it may find its way into the next generation of coaching manuals. But diving, too, is done with the intention not only of gaining an unfair penalty or free kick but also, in some circumstances, of getting the opponent sent off.

  12. Basically, I cannot understand why anyone thinks the foul on Bale wasn’t a penalty, it certainly was. Any manager studying Tottenham and Bale just has to tell his marker to keep fouling him and the referee won’t punish him for it because he’s a diver in the eyes of all referees. Last season he spent two months on the sidelines because of injury and he nearly had his leg broken by Charlie Adams. It’s great to read the bias in the first comment “We had done well in the first half and probably deserved to be ahead.” Yeah sure you won the first half, and my Aunt Fanny’s a man. Defoe absolutely dived and deserved a yellow for his cheating, but you want to change the rules and have him excuted. Oh well, there you go. Anyway, as a Derry man, I happen to have a lot of respect for Martin O’Neill and think he’s a good manager, so I will wish you’s a decent second half of the season and take good care of Danny Boy.

    • I didn’t think it was a penalty when I saw it live though I was at the other end of the ground. Watching the replays on TV there was the tiniest of contact between the players’ knees but it did require the use of a magnified shot to highlight it. Whether it was enough to send Bale over, or if he could have stayed upright only he will know for certain. It would have been a harsh penalty as the contact was so minimal and didn’t look deliberate – just a brushing of two players running side by side.

      Gardner did put his arm across Bale so an indirect free kick may have been given. Though I know all you Spurs’ fans will argue it was a foul, in my opinion it was no worse than obstruction.

      The booking was harsh – especially as Defoe had got away with his attempt to win a free kick but a penalty would have been harsh also.

      The big problem as I see it is the number of players, coaches and pundits who think that players should go down when they feel contact and those players who make no attempt to avoid the tackler so that a trailing leg makes contact and then go over when it is they in fact who have created the contact.

      At least twice this season I have seen penalties against us when our players have gone to ground in the box in an attempt to stop a cross or shot on goal and forwards going over untouched.

      There is talk that next season retrospective evidence will be allowed to overturn yellow cards when the ref has got it wrong or for players who clearly dive but don’t get booked but as long as they continue to gain an advantage people like Alan Hansen will continue to justify the tactic.

  13. My old uncles used to tell me how Cliff Jones could get a penaty from a halfway line trip. Plus ca change??
    BTW, I’ve seen Bale dive once this season, against Villa at WHL. It was outrageous & unpunished. The subsequent ‘simulation’ bookings have all been harsh, especially the one at your gaff. Gardner can can count himself a very lucky lad

  14. Sorry but a lot of rubbish there.

    Certainly due to being seen through SAFC eyes but if you bother with the replay 1-0 at 45 was a bit of a joke both in terms of possession and shots. The only chances you had wre due to Dawson and Walker having “disaster” 45s and giving away freekicks.

    Defoe was inexcusable but Bale does NOT dive. I was a 100m sprinter and even a touch at high speed would send me over. For school i was forced to play rugby as a winger and the number of fingertip tackles that stopped me short of the line were incredible. At high speed you lean forward and if touched you will tip and bale has stated post Adams that if he loses his balance he will protect himself and if there is contact it is a free/penalty.

    Most of the “Bale is a Diver” is simply envy a la Ronaldo as I have yet to see a “fall” without contact from him.
    As for Defoe, I have watched a few of your matches and if Defoe should have been redcarded for that then SAFC would have been at 10 men in a few matches also this season. A yellow for sure and it disgusted me.
    I was impressed with O’Neill in his attitude by going 4-2-4 longball in the end…brave but for once it failed.

  15. It always amazes me how bias leads to “reductio ad absurdum” arguments. Prime case is “any player worth his salt would have retained his balance and gone on to wrap the game up with a third goal ” – sadly an absurd conclusion justifying the claim.

    AV

  16. What a load of Old Tosh! If you are a journalist as you claim to be you are obviously of the very worst sort! Indeed I would venture to suggest that you are a backstreet abortionist of journalist, a hack and probably a phone hacker to boot. You sir are journalistic pond life!

  17. How can you say that Sunderland deserved to be ahead at half time,when you agree that Spurs controlled the game ?

    And I was a regular at WHL when Cliff was playing, he was chopped down a lot, and in those days a foul was a foul, which this was .

    And you don’t mention what a scrappy goal the home side got, and that Adeybyor hit the bar when he should have scored, just to mention just one incident

    • If you were to read the article and subsequent comments properly, you would see that I am not the author of the piece but was responding to the reasonable points made by the first reader to post a response. I happen to believe Pete Sixsmith, in his entirely fair match report, was correct in saying SAFC played well in patches. My own view is that Spurs were simply better; I therefore disagree with Pete’s honest assessment that we deserved a draw. Our goal, incidentally, came after an excellent cross from Larsson led to a strong Fletcher shot being brilliantly stopped by Lloris, the ball falling to O’Shea who calmly scored. Hardly scrappy.

  18. Interesting article. Don’t think anyone can agree with this though: “We had done well in the first half and probably deserved to be ahead.” Tottenham controlled the game completely and Sunderland were fortunate to still be in the game at HT, let alone leading.

    The Bale “dive” is obviously going to create arguments. The one that says “What they failed to point out was that any player worth his salt would have retained his balance and gone on to wrap the game up with a third goal” ignores the idea that maybe Bale simply couldn’t stay on his feet.

    Sunderland have some very good players, your keeper is solid whilst Sessegnon is superb. Best of luck this season.

    • You’re right on the inevitable arguments. Another SAFC supporter I know agrees with you, saying Bale was clipped and is simply too fast for ordinary players. But I am with Pete and the ref on this – as I have argued at ESPN: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/864?cc=5739 – and cannot believe the contact, such as it was, amounted to a foul or needed to result in such an extravagant fall. He may be a saint after all – let’s face it, only he knows the truth – but the evidence is against him.

      Pete is also right to say we played well in patches. We had chances to level the score. But I agree with you that Spurs had control for most of the game; you have to remember that teams with more modest talents learn, if they are any good or well led tactically, to contain superior opponents and strike on the break

      • Ironically, we play better on the break ourselves. Had you sat 10 men behind the ball in the 2nd half then we would have struggled to get back in to it; we’ve drawn at home to Stoke and Norwich, whilst losing to Wigan, all due to teams refusing to engage in playing actual football with us (Stoke are the worst culprits).

        I think refs have heard about the Bale “rep” and jump to conclusions. We haven’t had a single penalty this season and this bias against Bale hasn’t helped. I don’t believe you have either!

        Regarding Rose, he isn’t rated at White Hart Lane by the fans – wondergoal against Arsenal aside! He was brought in to the team as a left-midfielder but dropped back to left-back as cover. However, in his appearances in a Tottenham shirt he seemed to lack basic defensive abilities. That said, I’ve heard a lot about him being a success with you. Hopefully this will pay off for us and time playing Prem footy will develop his game. Walker did the same at Villa for a season and is arguably England’s number one right-back now, whilst Naughton was at Norwich as had been our left-back whilst we’ve had BAE out.

        AVB has come out and said that Rose has a future at Tottenham so I guess he’ll just be a loanee for you.

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