Everyone will have watched the Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur match. A thrilling game that ended in a 2-2 draw, City is right to feel aggrieved. Referee Andre Marriner did not spot the push on Raheem Sterling that should have led to a penalty.
Yaya Toure controversially remarked, “If you have a bit of experience like me, you’d maybe dive in that situation and that’s maybe what you have to do. He’s too honest, he wants to be proper in these sort of games. If the lad’s like that, you can’t tell him he’s wrong, if that’s what he tries to do. When you see it, he can’t miss from there, he was so close and after that Walker pushes him in the back.”
The question is, should Sterling have fallen to the ground?
To many fans of the English game, it’s so easy to be called a cheater. There is no greater notion than fair play, winning matches by playing at a superior level but if Sterling fell, would he have been criticised or praised for winning his side the match?
In Italy, the art of being cunning, otherwise known as ‘Furbizia’, means using all your experience and expertise to win the game - fairly and legally. That doesn’t mean cheating, paying referees or whatever many would love to believe but by doing what European footballing giants became famous for managing. Tactical fouls, winning a free-kick in advantageous positions, time wasting, crowding around the referee and annoyingly, demanding a yellow card for the opponent.
Barcelona are famous for harassing the referee, psychologically tilting the match to their favour. Jose Mourinho sides are capable of it and legends of the Italian game were praised for it. In Alessandro Del Piero’s last season at Juve, Antonio Conte would bring him on because he always won free-kicks, wasted time and then used his technique to convert opportunities - a useful presence when the match was nearing the end and the team needed to secure the slim result.
But is it in the spirit of the game? I know what I want the players on my team to do, what about you?