Monday Moan: Feigning injury a City tactic

Mark Holmes was glad to see Liverpool benefit from Manchester City gamesmanship, and does not want to see an extended ban for Goran Popov.

Last Updated: 05/02/13 at 07:43 Post Comment

Edin Dzeko: Stayed down to gain an advantage

Edin Dzeko: Stayed down to gain an advantage

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Manchester City get their comeuppance

Liverpool's first goal at Manchester City on Sunday really didn't sit well with me.

As Edin Dzeko lay on the floor clutching his legs following a strong tackle from Daniel Agger, Liverpool refused to kick the ball out of play despite boos ringing around the Etihad Stadium and the protestations of some City players. Eventually, the ball fell to Daniel Sturridge, who superbly fired home.

Dzeko got booked for his protests and City boss Roberto Mancini was adamant after the game that Dzeko was fouled, also saying the visitors should "probably" have kicked the ball out of play.

I can certainly understand City's frustration at no foul being awarded - I'm undecided on it, but City know better than most that winning the ball does not always matter - but enough time had elapsed after Dzeko going down that Mancini's men cannot possibly blame anyone but themselves for conceding.

You may be wondering, then, why the goal did not sit well with me.

Well, every Manchester City fan will disagree, but I believe it is a tactic of their players to feign injury when the opposition has the ball, making them kick it out of play to bring an end to their attack and allow City's players to regroup.

I'm not offended by any of the dark arts in football, but this is certainly one of the more cynical ones. It's a tactic Neil Warnock has used for as long as I can remember, yet it goes largely unnoticed.

Had City won the ball back against Liverpool and gone on the attack themselves, Dzeko would have jumped to his feet. Even if he hadn't, City would have played on if they felt there was a chance to score. Yet we are supposed to believe Liverpool should have kicked the ball out?

It would have been very sportsmanlike of a Liverpool player to have done so, and any act of sportsmanship deserves praise. But in direct response to blatant gamesmanship by Dzeko, I'm delighted Liverpool played on and scored.

Spitting not the worst thing in football

Not for the first time, a spit in football has caused outrage.

To me, spitting at another player falls somewhere between calling an opponent a rude word and deliberately setting out to hurt someone. Spitting at someone is disgusting, but it's certainly not the worst thing that can happen on a football pitch.

According to football's apparent moral guardians, though, spitting is just about the lowest thing a player can do.

In the space of a few seconds on Sunday evening Alan Shearer described Goran Popov's spit at Kyle Walker as disgusting, vile horrible, disgusting (again), horrible (again), insisting there is "no place for it" in football and calling for a six-match ban.

To put that in perspective, a six-game ban is double what players usually receive for violent conduct and two games more than John Terry got for racially insulting an opponent.

Yet Shearer's suggestion is not as outrageous as it might appear as, in 1999, Patrick Vieira was banned for six games for spitting at Neil Ruddock. More recently, Fenerbahce midfielder Raul Meireles was handed an 11-game ban for spitting at a referee.

Spitting is not a nice thing to do, but dare I say it is another thing that Britons are more offended by than most other nationalities. After all, even a certain Lionel Messi has been caught spitting at opponents in Spain.

I don't want to downplay spitting as it is not a nice thing to do, but Popov spat towards Walker rather than on him or in his face, and I would lose faith in the Football Association altogether if they handed Popov an added charge in the way they recently did Chelsea's Eden Hazard before eventually seeing sense.

Odemwingie farce sums up player power

Unlike many, I do have some sympathy for players like Peter Odemwingie who want to move clubs. After all, if I received a better offer from a rival employer I could simply hand in my notice to take the new job.

Also, I refuse to believe Odemwingie and his advisers had not been given assurances by West Brom that he would be allowed to join QPR on transfer deadline day should an acceptable offer be made and a replacement secured. It just seems too far-fetched that Odemwingie would travel down to Loftus Road completely against his club's wishes, blindly hoping they would change their mind once he was there.

No, I'm certain West Brom would have happily sold Odemwingie, a player who they knew full well did not want to stay at The Hawthorns, under different circumstances.

Odemwingie made himself to look a fool by agreeing to talk to reporters in London, speaking with absolute confidence that a deal would be struck, but the only criticism I have of him was his initial reaction, particularly on Twitter, to West Brom's insistence that they did not want to sell him.

That he believed the club should grant him his wish regardless of their own needs sums up the attitude of many footballers, who believe it is the club that should be grateful for them rather than them be grateful for the club that pays them extortionate amounts of money each week.

West Brom's refusal to sell Odemwingie was one in the eye for all those players that think they can get what they want, no matter who they upset along the way.

You can follow me on Twitter @Homzy for more of my moaning. I'll also be hosting a live chat on TEAMtalk at 2pm to discuss my latest blog and any other thoughts from the weekend you may have.

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