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Monday, April 16, 2012

Get off Ashley Young's back

Ryan Taylor has branded Ashley Young 'a disgrace' and has described the United winger as 'the biggest cheat in the league' in a hot headed twitter rant after Young won a penalty for United against Aston Villa yesterday. It was the second controversial penalty the former Villa man has won for United in a week, having earned a similiarly contentious award on Easter Sunday against QPR.
Taylor's comments came shortly after ref Mark Halsey pointed to spot yesterday and he quickly deleted the offending tweet but by the time he did, the damage had been done. And frankly, the tweet was a disgrace.
Nobody associated with Manchester United condones cheating - and Sir Alex Ferguson has always discouraged diving in his teams - but what Taylor, and millions of others, fail to understand is that diving is only one form of cheating and it is far from the worst form of rule breaking that occours in football today.
Watch any premier league match and witness the array of cheats that exist in the modern English game. Defenders who pull shirts are cheats. Players who take free kicks from incorrect postions are cheats. Time wasters are cheats. Any player who commits a foul is a cheat.
Yesterday, John Terry celebrated Chelsea's second goal even though he knew quite well that the ball had not crossed the line. That is another form cheating. And yet all of these things are tolerated. When Terry leans across a striker or grabs him to prevent him from winning a header in the box, he is cheating. But you will never hear an outcry from the public because that is a form of cheating that is accepted.
Every week skillful, artistic players are thwarted by cheating defenders who, unable to match them for ability, resort to every underhanded trick in the book to prevent the audience from enjoying the spectacle of their skills. A tap on the ankles is accepted; a cynical foul. Conceed a free kick...' yellow card...round of applause for the big defender who pulled down the striker knowing he would get a red card; sacrificed himself for the team.
Strikers who dive are cheats too - of course they are - but they are far from the worst kind of cheats. If a defender can call upon a litany of illegal to tricks to support his game why can't an attacker do likewise? When your opponent fights dirty you have every right to respond in kind...some may say that you have a duty to do so. In such an enviornment strikers have every right to dive. And good luck to them. Football is about goals. When we debate who is the best player in the world it is nearly always an attacker or a midfielder we talk about. Defenders do not capture the imagination in the same way. And yet we allow defenders to cheat our favourites all the time whilst expecting attackers to be whiter than white.
Fairness is a difficult concept to grasp at times; indeed some would say that it is a double edged sword and that sometimes to be fair you have to be unfair, but to go around accusing one man of cheating while ignoring the cheating of another is cleary inequitable and could be described as a form of cheating in itself.
This is a lesson that Ryan Taylor must learn before he goes around slandering his fellow pros. If all cheating was punished it is the forwards who would benefit the most. It therefore stands to reason that as things stand it is forwards who are suffering the most. Once in a while it is okay to allow the sinned againt to commit a sin of his own? Is that fair? Sure, this may be a general argument that is not related entirely to the specific event that inspired it but nevertheless, let's get off Ashley Young's back...or least condemn all cheating equally if we want to ride the high horse.

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