If you watched Everton’s 2-1 victory over West Ham or just happened to catch the highlights, you would have noticed that Ross Barkley took a dive.
No, not Luis Suarez, Angel di Maria, Gareth Bale, or Eden Hazard. But Ross Barkley. Yes, this is newsworthy.
So much so that the midfielder’s manager, Roberto Martinez, came out earlier this week in defense of Barkley. “I don’t think it was a dive as such,” said the Toffees boss. “When you are a player like Ross, getting so many knocks and kicks, all he did was anticipate it and tried to get out the way.
“It wasn’t as if he was trying to buy a penalty, he is not that sort of player. It was a reaction. When you see his legs after the game, you see the amount of treatment he gets. The whole thing has been blown out of proportion. He wasn’t looking for it, he isn’t that type.”
So many good nuggets here.
First, Bobby Martinez, God love him, is full of the Dickens on this one. It most certainly was “a dive as such”, that much was clear. Barkley was dribbling, Kevin Nolan came within his stratosphere and the Everton man crashed to the ground.
Second, and where Martinez gets it right, is that Barkley “isn’t that type” of player. He may not be perfect but Barkley, like Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard or pretty much all top Englishman, simply don’t sell calls. He has integrity and he plays the game like a man but on that particular play, Barkley definitely dove.
Which brings us to the third point, why Barkley dove. Someone should just ask him and see if he man’s up but in the meantime, we, like Martinez, can only guess at the reason. Perhaps it was a reaction due to getting crushed by defenders, which, for anyone who watches Barkley on a week-in-week-out basis knows is absolutely true. Not that that’s an excuse, though. The Premier League is rough and quite often, defenders try to break legs. To Martinez’ point, sometimes you need to avoid the situation but only so long as you actually see that situation coming. Here, Nolan didn’t even hint like he was about to lay thunder.
So yes, Barkley dove and yes, (news flash) Martinez is overly protective of his players.
But why does it ultimately matter?
Because Barkley has a legitimate chance to be one of the greats.