Mauricio Pochettino defends Dele Alli amid diving accusations
This is becoming a regular occurrence
Dele Alli has made the headlines again, but not for scoring or a bagging an assist, once again he has sparked debate around simulation.
In Sunday's match against Crystal Palace, the Tottenham midfielder went down in search of a penalty as he poked the ball around Wayne Hennessey, but it was clear that he had begun to go down before any contact was made and that he would not have got to the ball as it ran out of play.
Mauricio Pochettino jumped to his player's defence today, claiming he is an 'easy target'.
"He is an easy target for everyone. We need to stop saying too much about him to stop helping people, the fans, creating this reputation."
Pochettino added: "He’s so competitive and played very well but Dele is an easy target. Dele is such a special kid. He’s going to play. He’s going to show his quality. He won’t worry what people are saying about him.”
This incident triggered criticism from the likes of Gary Lineker and Lord Sugar, both of whom would have been rooting for Spurs.
Whatever your moral stance on diving, there is little debate to be had here - Alli was not fouled. But he did not complain, he accepted that he had not won the penalty and continued, which is more than you could say for many other theatrical players.
There seems to be a debate around whether Alli has dived or not every weekend. Just last weekend in Spurs' FA Cup tie against Rochdale, he won a penalty by exaggerating contact in the box, which divided opinion.
Alli had a genuine shout for a penalty minutes before the diving incident, when a clumsy tackle from Patrick van Aanholt sent him crashing to the ground, but the referee's vision was obstructed.
Spurs eventually broke the door down and got their winner, as Harry Kane scored a header in the 88th minute, peeling away from Damien Delaney at the far post.
Trying to draw fouls and exaggerating the contact if necessary is very much a part of Alli's game and in Pochettino, he has a manager who will not try to coach it out of him. Whether that's a bad thing or not depends on your moral stance on diving. But I would predict that should he win a penalty for England at the World Cup in this manner, very few people outside of the country will have an issue with it.