Roy Hodgson does not believe Jamie Vardy dived at the weekend and can understand the angry outburst that could see the England striker miss yet more of Leicester’s title run-in.
Those at the King Power Stadium on Sunday looked set to witness the latest chapter in the Foxes’ fairy tale season as the 29-year-old opened the scoring against West Ham, ending a move involving their three PFA Player of the Year nominees.
However, things soon went awry for Vardy and his team-mates, with the striker handed a second booking having been adjudged by referee Jon Moss to have taken a tumble too easily under pressure from Angelo Ogbonna, leading tempers to fray and a fractious encounter to end 2-2.
Leicester’s top scorer will miss this weekend’s crunch clash with Swansea as a result and his reaction to being sent off has led to a Football Association charge for improper conduct, to which he must respond by 6pm on Thursday.
An additional ban may follow but England manager Hodgson has no qualms about Vardy’s attitude and insists he did not dive at the weekend.
When asked about the England team’s discipline, he said: “You take everything that the player brings with him.
“You take Wayne Rooney – he, in my recollection, was pretty hot-headed, often getting himself into scrapes on the field, but you take what the player brings.
“Vardy got sent off at the weekend, but once again I will go out on a limb: I don’t see that. I don’t see that as a dive. I just don’t.
“I think he was unbalanced. I don’t think it was a penalty either, I think he was unbalanced, running at that speed.
“I think there was a very slight sort of contact with the defender, who was trying to cover.
“I think he went down, he lost his balance. I don’t think he was trying to dive.
“But of course all the pundits I hear they say, ‘He dived, look how he dived’. I don’t see it. I really don’t, I’m sorry.
“I wouldn’t blame him for that. I sympathise with him, I think he was very, very unlucky.
“When you get sent off for something where he obviously feels like I feel – there is no doubt he is of that opinion.
“But now he has had to swallow the fact that he has been made to leave the field and then, unfortunately, he has reacted like sometimes human beings react.
“He hasn’t just said to the ref, ‘Thanks very much, I understand’ and shakes hands and ‘Have a good game’.
“He has called him a few names, but he is a human being and that can happen.
“But I think our disciplinary record over the last few years has been pretty good.
“I think it will remain good, but I can’t guarantee you that a Vardy, a Rooney, or a Dele Alli, or anyone else for that matter, is not going to do that.”
The aforementioned trio are known for a competitive edge that can occasionally spill over.
That edge, Hodgson rightly points out, was sometimes missing in the disappointing World Cup showing two years ago, with Rooney saying afterwards that England needed to be more “streetwise”.
There is, though, a fine line between that and losing your temper, like David Beckham at the 1998 World Cup and Rooney during the 2006 tournament.
“That’s another interesting topic which you could talk for ages about because how do you make people streetwise if they don’t grow up on the streets?” Hodgson said at an England media briefing ahead of Euro 2016.
“We’re English, we’re brought up in England, English schools, English culture and English parents. We’re not from the back streets of Uruguay or Colombia or whatever.
“I don’t quite know what you can do as a coach to suddenly to make them that way. The same applies here, obviously.
“Our players will know that discipline is very, very important. Our players will know and have it drummed into them that they must keep their cool, don’t lose your temper, don’t run the risk that they are going to upset you and get you sent off.
“We tell them all those things. But what if it happens?
“People make it sound so simple that all you have to do is tell them, for me to go round to every player and give a lecture and say, ‘Listen boys, we don’t want anything like this happening – just imagine it’s the 89th minute of the game, you get sent off, look what would happen to us’.
“They would nod very wisely, none of them would disagree, they would all say, ‘Don’t worry, we won’t do it, you’re right’. But then it still happens.”