After Ashley Young’s dive, should simulation get a straight-red?

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Following several controversial incidents surrounding Ashely Young in Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, the England international has been widely criticized for excessive simulation.

Midway through the first half against Palace, Young clearly dove to try and gain a penalty kick by flicking out his leg and kicking Crystal Palace midfielder Kaisho Dikgacoi before flopping to the ground. Referee John Moss didn’t hesitate in handing Young a yellow card for simulation and Young’s long-standing relationship with diving in the box had yet another exhibit to back it up.

And just minutes before half time Young and Dikgacoi were again involved in a clash, as the Palace man clumsily took down Young on what appeared to be the edge of the box. Young fell forward and despite the original contact being outside the box, Moss gave a penalty kick and sent Dikgacoi off as he was the last man.

(MORE: Manchester United 2-0 Crystal Palace; Van Persie and Rooney defeat the Eagles)

Palace felt hard done by and rightly so. But the main storyline to come out of Old Trafford on Saturday was Young’s diving.

I was sat in the press lounge at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on Saturday watching the United game on television with a bunch of other journalists. Several of them, including myself, turned away in disgust as Young’s dive was replayed to the billions of television viewers across the world.

But this isn’t something we haven’t seen from the 28-year-old winger before.

When Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge of United he warned Young about his tendency to go down easily — watch the incident below against Aston Villa back in 2012 which was almost identical —  and now David Moyes has had to do the same following Saturday’s game.

Young’s actions are sure to divide opinion.

On one hand we have those who accept diving is part of the modern game and lambast anyone who criticizes a player for going down easily after minimal contact. Then on the other side of the coin we have those who deplore diving and see it as a disease eating away at the beautiful game.

Okay, here’s an example of my why I am with the latter school of thought. Personally, despite all of their beauty and poise on the ball, I have stopped watching Barcelona in the same fondness I once did. The constant diving, simulation and underhand tactics they deploy don’t sit well with me. I’m not saying Barca are the only team that does this, but they have one of the most talented squads in world soccer, ever, so why do top international players and teams feel the need to dive, cheat and con referees?

It’s all about that extra 1 percent advantage. If Young takes a tumble in the penalty box ten times, he will probably get a PK on two or three occasions. So he’s willing to take the risk of bring tarnished as a ‘diver’ and a ‘cheat’ as he has done, in order to help his team score goals and grab points.

How can we stop this epidemic from ruining the game we all love so much? Red cards.

A straight-red for any diving will certainly help to eradicate this despicable form of gamesmanship. You only have to look at the outlawing of the tackle from behind to see that it can work. A few years back there was suddenly a zero-tolerance policy on a dangerous tackle from behind, which saw red cards brandished readily but now that tackle is hardly seen in the modern game.

It has worked, people got the message. The same needs to happen with diving. It’s a drastic step but if players face getting sent off, just see how quick Young and others stop throwing themselves to the ground like a sack of potatoes every time a defender gets within two feet of them.

Needless to say, the simulation situation has got out of hand. Now it’s time for the officials and governing bodies to take a stance. Enough’s enough. Diving and cheating is not okay and quite frankly, I’m sick of it.

Mourinho: Mkhitaryan “disappeared” during games, got dropped

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It would appear that Henrikh Mkhitaryan has become the new Luke Shaw, who not so long ago became the new Juan Mata, who had become the new Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Pepe, who all previously become the new Kaka and Mesut Ozil — players previously perceived to be undroppable, only to fall out of favor and be dropped from Mourinho’s side.

[ MORE: Carrick back in training after operation to fix irregular heartbeat ]

Similarly to many of the aforementioned stars of Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid sides of the not-so-distant past, Mourinho recently singled out Mkhitaryan for not working hard enough for the team and failing to meet expectations with his performances.

Mkhitaryan last featured in Man United’s 1-0 loss to Chelsea on Nov. 5, prior to the most recent international break. He played just 62 minutes, to follow an UEFA Champions League appearance of just 45 minutes against Benfica. Mkhitaryan was then absent from the substitute’s bench for a victory over Newcastle United and a defeat to Basel.

[ MORE: Pochettino sees Sanchez as one of world’s best defenders already ]

In Mourinho’s mind, Mkhitaryan hasn’t merited a place in the team — quotes from the Guardian:

“I was not happy with his last performances. I’m not speaking about one or two, I’m speaking about three, four or five. He started the season very well and after that, step by step, he was disappearing. His performance levels in terms of goalscoring and assists, pressing, recovering the ball high up the pitch, bringing the team with him as a no. 10, were decreasing.

“That was enough [to drop him] because the others worked to have a chance. Everybody works to have a chance. It’s as simple as that.”

“I don’t know if Mkhitaryan will start but, for sure, he will be back in the group. For him to be back to the group, it means that somebody is going to leave the group.”

Davinson delights Pochettino, who predicts “massive” strides

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It’s still very early days for Davinson Sanchez as a Tottenham Hotspur player, but the early returns are extremely positive as the Colombian center back has featured in 14 of the club’s 17 games in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League this season.

[ MORE: Spurs beat Dortmund again to win group with Real Madrid ]

What’s more encouraging than Sanchez’s initial performances? The 21-year-old’s “massive” room for improvement and the expectation he’ll one day soon be one of the world’s best defenders, according to manager Mauricio Pochettino.

After signing for Spurs in August, Sanchez went straight into Pochettino’s starting lineup, slotted in between stalwarts Toby Aldeweireld and Jan Vertonghen, who together last season led the defense with the PL’s best record (26 goals conceded in 38 games), as part of a back-three. Sanchez has taken to Tottenham like a duck to water, in Pochettino’s estimation — quotes from ESPN FC:

“You saw against against Dortmund how many times he was with [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang one-versus-one. How many central defenders can play one-versus-one and escape and go, be tight and press? If you run, I run because I am so confident when running. I think not many center backs in the world can do this.

“Or against Swansea against Tammy Abraham: how many times he was one vs. one and the ball was behind him, he was on the halfway line and running was not a problem? And against Cristiano Ronaldo, too?”

“We expect more from him, but I am so happy with him. He is doing well, very well. He’s only 21 years old, but he shows more maturity [than that], and he’s so aggressive when he’s marking, his concentration [is good] and then with the ball he’s good, but I think he can improve.

“There is massive scope to improve potentially, it’s massive for him. In only a few months, he’s showing he’s doing a fantastic job for us. [He can improve in] every single aspect, tactic, physical condition, technique.

“We need with him one and a half months or two months preseason every day, and then I’m sure he’s going to show a different level. I think he’s one of the best today, but has potential to improve a lot more.

“Because he’s so clever, and he’s very humble, and he’s very open to learn, he’s a player when you tell something his reaction is to be open, and be critical with himself, and that is a massive skill from a player, when he’s so open to improve, and then the conditions he has are amazing to be one of the best center halves in the world.”

To state the completely obvious, Pochettino was wise to utilize Aldeweireld and Vertonghen as training wheels for Sanchez, if you will, upon his arrival. His athleticism and pace make him 1) the ideal complement to a pair of players who read the game so well; and, 2) perfectly positioned to operate as the last-man, emergency defender on the rare occasion either Belgian is breached.

[ MORE: Liverpool host Chelsea in massive top-four clash ]

For the first time all season, Sanchez started out wide in Alderweireld’s absence (hamstring) against Arsenal last weekend, and for the first time since his arrival, he appeared a flawed — which is to say, human — defender. To his credit, Sanchez gave a quality account of himself on the whole, and finished the game much stronger than he’d started.

No one was more aware of this than Pochettino, though, as he slid Eric Dier into Aldeweireld’s spot for Tuesday’s Champions League triumph over Borusia Dortmund, again deploying Sanchez in the middle. With Aldeweireld expected to miss a couple more weeks at minimum, the Tottenham teamsheet should routinely read Vertonghen-Sanchez-Dier from left to right until he returns.

Lille appoint four interim managers to replace Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) A four-man coaching team will take provisional charge of French soccer club Lille in the wake of Marcelo Bielsa’s dismissal.

Lille says Fernando Da Cruz, Joao Sacramento, Benoit Delaval and Franck Mantaux will be in charge of the team until further notice.

Lille announced earlier this week that Bielsa had been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club” following a 3-0 loss at Amiens.

The northern side is in 19th place and next travels Saturday to Montpellier, which has the best defense in the league.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but failed to make the club competitive. After finishing a disappointing 11th last season, Lille hired the coach – affectionately known as El Loco Bielsa (Crazy Bielsa) – with the aim of returning to the Champions League.

Irregular heartbeat the cause of Carrick’s recent absence

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Manchester United captain Michael Carrick hasn’t played for his club since Sept. 20, a confounding period of more than two months now, and the reason for the 36-year-old midfielder’s absence has finally come to light: an irregular heartbeat.

[ MORE: Mourinho slams critics (again), gives injury updates ]

The condition, which Carrick announced himself on Friday, was first detected after Man United’s League Cup victory over Burton Albion. He has since undergone a cardiac ablation, a procedure to scar or destroy tissue in your heart that’s allowing incorrect electrical signals to cause an abnormal heart rhythm, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Carrick was named the new United captain this summer following the departure of Wayne Rooney. As told in the above statement, he is working toward full fitness and once again being available for selection in Jose Mourinho’s side.

Hooray for modern technology and medicine, which allow otherwise baffling medical conditions to be diagnosed, treated and recovered from in a matter of weeks or months.