Friday 22 September 2017

Sterling should have taken a dive, claims Toure after City 'robbed'

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling looks dejected after Tottenham Hotspurs score their first goal of the game. Photo credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Manchester City's Raheem Sterling looks dejected after Tottenham Hotspurs score their first goal of the game. Photo credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

James Ducker

For all the talk last week about retrospective action for diving, the flashpoint between Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening will hardly have offered much encouragement for players to stay on their feet.

Man City 2 Tottenham 2

Sterling has been rebuked in the past for a tendency to go to ground too easily, but having sought to curb the theatrics, the Manchester City winger must be wondering if he would be better off returning to his old ways.

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus in action. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Yates
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus in action. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Yates

Team-mate Yaya Toure certainly feels he would. Anywhere else on the pitch, Walker's shove in Sterling's back would have been deemed a foul. But Andre Marriner opted against awarding City a penalty when the referee would doubtless have viewed it differently had Sterling tumbled, and sent off Walker in the process.

A minute later, Tottenham Hotspur had completed a dramatic fightback from two goals down to claim what Mauricio Pochettino called a "massive" point in their quest for the title.

Toure's message to Sterling was simple: Do not be so honest next time.

However, the fact that players feel such a mindset is necessary to guarantee getting a penalty is troubling in itself.

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus in action with Tottenham's Moussa Sissoko. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Yates
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus in action with Tottenham's Moussa Sissoko. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Yates

"If he had dived everyone would have been saying, 'it's a dive'," Toure said. "If you have a bit of experience like me, you'd maybe dive in that situation and that's maybe what you have to do.

"He is too honest. He wants to be proper in these sorts of games. If the lad's like that, you can't tell him he's wrong if that's what he tries to do. When you see it, he can't miss from there. He was so close but Walker pushes him in the back."

City's frustration at Marriner's oversight overlooked the official's failure to spot that Leroy Sane could have been penalised for handball moments before scoring his team's opening goal.

Pep Guardiola's exasperation at what he feels are clear-cut decisions going against his side had culminated in a private meeting in the past fortnight with Mike Riley, the head of the referees' governing body.

Tottenham's Dele Alli scores their first goal. Photo: Reuters / Jason Cairnduff
Tottenham's Dele Alli scores their first goal. Photo: Reuters / Jason Cairnduff

Toure believes video technology has to be introduced.

"If video can be involved in football it is going to be brilliant," he said.

"If the ref looks at the highlights he is going to feel something is unfair. We all do wrongs in life but this is difficult to take. The manager and players are frustrated because we feel like we've been robbed."

Toure said he would "watch the highlights and I'll probably break a glass and be angry because we've lost two points like that", but City would be better off not deflecting all the blame on to Marriner.

Whereas Tottenham were ruthless in front of goal and had the wherewithal to force their way back into a game they had been distinctly second best in, City were left to rue the same failings and, for all the brilliance of their build-up play and ferocity of their pressing tactics, a worrying pattern is beginning to emerge.

Manchester City's Nicolas Otamendi in action with Tottenham's Danny Rose. Photo: Reuters / Jason Cairnduff
Manchester City's Nicolas Otamendi in action with Tottenham's Danny Rose. Photo: Reuters / Jason Cairnduff

Another match against a top-six side passed Sergio Aguero by without scoring, plentiful chances continue to be spurned, and at the opposite end of the field opponents seem to need few opportunities to score. Guardiola called it a "deja-vu game".

Under-fire keeper Bravo could have done little about Dele Alli or Heung-min Son's goals for Spurs; opposite number Hugo Lloris was at fault for both City goals, spilling Sterling's cross to enable Kevin De Bruyne to score City's second. But Bravo has conceded six goals from the past six shots he has faced.

Lloris has some sympathy for Bravo. "Coming after Joe Hart is never easy," the Frenchman said. "Joe is a fantastic goalkeeper, No 1 for England, he made some great, great saves for City. But Bravo, I'm sure he will be decisive for City. It's just a question of time.

"(The mistake for De Bruyne's goal) was not my first time and it will not be my last time. It (a problem) can happen but you need to stay calm. He's got a lot of experience, he's a great keeper and I'm not too worried for him."

Pochettino has concerns over Toby Alderweireld, who was substituted with a tight hamstring, and Danny Rose, who left Manchester with his knee in a brace. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

 

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