Dive or Not: Martin Atkinson and Ashley Young
Ashley Young is the new Gareth Bale.
And I don’t mean that in a good way.
You see, the last year Gaz played for Tottenham, he was yellow carded for diving so many times it became a joke between my friends and I (all Spurs fans). Every time one of us – usually me – would trip on the sidewalk or get run over by some joker walking and texting, the others would intone:
“Yellow card, Gareth Bale.”
And now the joke’s on Ashley Young.
The Manchester United winger clearly tried to win the penalty today against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, and referee Martin Atkinson was clearly having none of it. Not only did he not give Young the penalty, he booked him for simulation.
But how much of that was because of Young’s (well-earned, sadly) reputation as a diver?
If you review the video replay (which I hope stays available), there doesn’t appear to be much contact, Young’s dive was theatrical and the Sunderland player was trying to stop. So, that definitely puts him into simulation territory.
On the other hand, Young was traveling ridiculously fast and there is contact, and while his fall is somewhat dramatic, we’ve certainly seen worse from him.
This is a 50-50 call, and you can understand why Atkinson gave it. But I do think he could have just chosen not to give the penalty.
And I think he was absolutely sending a message.
Young has made himself a villain countless times with his diving, even causing controversy in last year’s Champions League, when he was widely viewed as having conned World Cup final referee Nicola Rizzoli of Italy into giving an undeserved penalty.
So, I do believe his reputation played into what we saw today, and Atkinson was making it clear that the referees would be watching Young.
Unfortunately, when they did the same thing to Bale, it was often unfair. True, Gaz had a tendency to go down easily, but we also saw at least two instances where he was yellow carded for what were clearly hard challenges that he couldn’t have avoided, even after he tried to work with the referees to overcome his reputation. It put him at risk and no doubt played into his decision to leave for Spain.
Let’s hope the message is received with Young and the referees don’t overdo it.
What do you think? Dive or not?