Top sports journalist Paul Hayward has laid into Mauricio Pochettino for his stance on diving, which the Spurs boss shockingly revealed this week.

In a piece for the Daily Telegraph, Hayward has backed Arsene Wenger’s take on diving, suggesting that the British press’ love-in with Poch could be coming to an end.

Wenger recently responded to Poch’s comments, in which the Argentinian coach defended his side flinging themselves to the floor and feigning injury against Liverpool because ‘tricking’ the opposition is all part of the game.

“I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it,” Wenger said with a smile ahead of the North London Derby.

“But English players have learned very quickly and might be the masters now.”

Hayward agrees with Wenger, pointing out that, out of 19 yellow cards awarded for diving this season, 10 have been for English players.

The highly respected journalist won Sports Writer of the Year for the second year running last February. He doesn’t need to cause controversy or go against the grain just to get his name out there and his stern words do suggest that the English press are starting to fall out of love with Poch.

daily telegraph 10 feb
Daily Telegraph, February 10, 2018

“Diving negates the point and purpose of the game, as Pochettino would probably agree if Wenger told all his players to tumble like tots in the lunchtime kick-off – and the other 18 Premier League clubs got together and decided to use the same tactic against Spurs,” Hayward writes.

“Pochettino’s realism and charm should not blind us to the heinous nature of inventing ‘contact’ in the box, or distort the more complex debate about when attacking players are justified in going down. Forcing a defender or goalkeeper into an error in the penalty box is a kind of skill, but chucking yourself down on a minimal or non-existent ‘touch’ is skulduggery.”

Alli’s play-acting isn’t going down well with those who have been following the game for as long as the 21-year-old has been alive.

“His tumble at Anfield last weekend happened in its airspace, with no contact from any Liverpool player,” Hayward said. “Alli fell like a man who had leant against an unclosed door or Del Boy in the pub in that famous scene in Only Fools and Horses. Dele Boy might be a good nickname for Alli, because he is as crafty as hell in those situations.”

As Wenger says, diving has gone from being an issue English fans always blamed on foreign players, to the English players becoming the ‘masters’.

What does it say when players, who will have heard what the fans think about diving, adopt this technique to trick the referee – not the opposition as Poch claims – regardless of how they know their actions will be perceived?