Absence makes the heart grow fonder. That’s certainly the vibe around Power Tower as we gag for the Premier League to get back up and running.
We’re simming games on FIFA just to get that feeling only Burnley v Norwich can give you.
But it’s not enough,
During the football shutdown of recent months, even the sneakiest, nastiest, most downright diabolical football ne’er-do-wells have taken on a pleasanter aspect – I mean, I am literally salivating at the thought of Atletico Madrid sh*thousing their way to the Champions League I’m so desperate for football.
In fact, the lack of football has driven us so doolally we’re willing to say all is forgiven – and even yearning for a good, old-fashioned, 7.8-from-the-Russian-judge dive. VAR might put off the more timid aspiring Tom Daleys of the football world, but, for the true cheater, it just sets the bar a little higher to jump over – preferably as you grasp your face, scream in anguish and gesture for a yellow card all at the same time.
But what makes a great dive? Let’s have a look at the essential elements of a perfect flop – even Sergio Busquets wants a peek…
That great manager from the early days of the Chinese Super League, Sun Tzu once said “To conquer the enemy without resorting to war is the most desirable”, and this could be the motto of football’s phonies and fakers union.
Most centre-forwards wouldn’t stand a chance in a physical confrontation against burly centre-halves – here’s the greatest of them all getting his leg split in two by the Butcher of Bilbao if evidence were needed:
So spotting any opportunity to take the physical advantage of defenders out of the game is one great skill any would-be Felix Baumgartner must possess.
While running with the ball necessarily involves some degree of bodily risk when you’re near a defensive lummox, there’s a line to be drawn – and possibly tripped over – between ducking contact and just falling over when no one is near you.
Yeah, you could at least be in the same postcode, Hamit.
Sometimes you have to make your own opportunities though.
While waiting for an errant flick of a defender’s boot or desperate lunge from a scrambling keeper might pay-off best most of the time, often necessity demands you make your own luck.
Now, it’s not quite Edward Norton kicking the sh*t our of himself in Fight Club, but this effort from Bryan Carrasco playing for Chile against Ecuador at youth level, shows the right kind of attitude; if a defender’s not willing to swing an elbow, make it swing for him.
And directly into your face. At force.
Not being able to generate enough power to crack his septum and draw blood is the obvious deficiency here – though, given Chile’s infamous history of players deliberately drawing blood from themselves to screw their opponents, perhaps it for the best to not go overboard.
And while, strategically, the idea is a sound one, the aftermath needs to be better handled, which brings us to…
Timing your unforced collapse is all well and good, but if you don’t get the attention of the ref then what’s the point?
Often you’ll see players really fouled, but, mugs that they are, they do their best to stay up and stumble along! You lose the ball, of course, and the clueless bloke with he whistle in his hand lets it slide like Donald Trump’s approval ratings.
If you need to amp it up when you are actually fouled, imagine how much you need to sell it when you’re not?
Just be careful; Neymar committed so much to selling fouls he memed himself into oblivion.
Both literal and metaphorical. Neymar’s fatal mistake was to take dining too seriously. In truth, diving should be a moment of exuberance and joy.
Luis Suarez understood this. Just look at this ludicrous effort.
Fly Luis, fly!
Even better, as Jurgen Klinsmann showed when he arrived at Spurs back in the nineties with a reputation for “simulation”, playing up to your name when you score makes it even better.
I think I’m starting to hate diving again just watching that.