Well done to Andros Townsend – he’s held up his hands, admitted that’s he’s made a mistake and apologised for ‘diving’. The Tottenham winger was booked in the first half of Saturday’s match against Chelsea for ‘simulation’. He had cut inside Frank Lampard and went down apparently ‘going over’ the Chelsea midfielder’s trailing leg but Lampard had pulled it away at the last moment. Lampard protested his innocence of any misdeed and the referee, Mike Dean, having spotted what Townsend had done, immediately issued him with a yellow card.
Townsend is not the first player to go be booked for ‘diving’ but he may well be the first to have gone to the referee and his assistants on the half-time whistle to apologise for his actions. Where other players have strongly denied any wrong-doing, even in the face of compelling evidence against them, Townsend chose a different course of action.
At the match on Saturday, I noticed Townsend over with the officials at the interval as the other players trooped off the pitch. He was speaking to them and shook hands with Mr Dean. Townsend had realised his mistake and had decided to go from his position on the right wing and walk across the pitch to the referee who was possibly forty yards away from him. Being on the right touchline at half-time, Townsend could just as easily have disappeared down the tunnel at the West Stand and the sanctuary of the dressing room and done nothing more about it but instead took the decision to hold up his hands and admit to his error.
The media has been full of Townsend’s actions which some might say could cause him problems in future games when officials might be reluctant to award him a free-kick or penalty when he goes down, suspicious that he has again gone down too easily. Concerns about Townsend were raised after he won the penalty against Swansea which enabled Spurs to win their first home match of the season. The Swansea manager, Michael Laudrup, questioned the winger’s actions. Townsend denies diving in that match, when he should have been awarded a first half penalty when clearly brought down inside the area but the referee adjudged that the offence had taken place outside the penalty area. SkySports reported Townsend’s comments on the Swansea penalty after the Chelsea game,
I didn’t have time to react to that. It’s sort of instinct. People said I dived against Swansea, but if you are running that fast, with any little touch you are going to go over.
Townsend accepted that he deserved the yellow card and is going to eradicate ‘diving’ from his game.Gareth Bale suffered from getting a reputation for ‘diving’. He was booked on 7 occasions for diving while at Spurs but a number of those were incorrect calls by the referee. He has the most bookings for simulation in the Premier League (6), ahead of David Bentley and Ashley Young. I defended Bale last season against claims of diving when the officials had made a wrong call, having ignored the fact that at the pace at which he was running, it wouldn’t require much to make him lose balance plus his need to take avoiding action in order to escape possible injury.
The same applies to Townsend whose pace and trickery gave Ashley Cole an uncomfortable afternoon, especially in the first half. It was from Townsend’s run and pass that Roberto Soldado almost created a lovely opportunity for Paulinho shortly after the opening goal. He caused the visitors’ defence problems in that opening half so it is unfortunate that all the talk about his part in the game is focused on the ‘dive’, the subsequent booking and apology.
Having been included in the last England squad, Townsend is hoping to be selected for the important internationals as the final step to possible qualification for next summer’s World Cup finals. He withdrew from the England Under-21 squad for the European Championships in the summer, having been banned due to a problem with gambling so hopefully this latest misdemeanour won’t influence Roy Hodgson when selecting his senior squad for the next matches.
Twice in the past four months, Townsend has help up his hands and admitted his mistakes. Only turned 22 years of age, Townsend like all young people has made an error of judgement. It is especially difficult in in the intensity of a derby match where winning is all important but Townsend will need to ensure that he doesn’t have to issue any further apologies or people will start to question his reliability.
Well done Andros, on acknowledging your mistake and accepting the punishment, now you know what you have to do next.