Chris Lakey: ‘It’s part of the game’ is no mitigation for cheating

PUBLISHED: 15:16 09 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:16 09 February 2018

Rudy Gestede is shown a red card which was later ripped up.  
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Rudy Gestede is shown a red card which was later ripped up. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

©Focus Images Limited +447814 482222

Harry Kane would have rehearsed his line before he had even hit the turf.

Harry Kane cheated Liverpool fans. Picture: PAHarry Kane cheated Liverpool fans. Picture: PA

As he shook his leg, trying desperately to assure himself there was a touch from Liverpool goalkeeper feel the touch of Loris Karius I swear you could read his lips: “It’s part of the game.”

Except it’s not. What it is is the worst cop-out ever. The worst mitigation. The worst example of a cheating footballer.

Kane had already wasted one chance from the penalty spot and, when referee Jon Moss saw Eddie Smart’s flag go up on the line as the match entered its final few seconds, he gave him chance number two.

And, as Kane pointed out to the cameras on the way off, you don’t give him two bites at the cheery.

But it was what he said later that really takes the biscuit.

“The keeper puts himself in that situation and I am in the way I am not going to jump out of the way of him so ... look, it is part of the game,” said Kane.

No, it’s not. Kane cheated. The only way there was contact was because Kane forced the issue. It happens all the time.

Players ‘leave their legs out’, they force a coming together which cons the referee. Same as players who, being chased by an opponent, run across their path. A collision is inevitable.

It wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t a deliberate act, but the game is held up, a player is probably booked or sent off, the game’s outcome is affected, unfairly, and at least one set of fans is short-changed.

Like the Liverpool fans who were seconds away from victory but, because of Kane, had to settle for a draw. They were robbed.

Kane isn’t the only guilty party: it is rife within football.

I challenge you to pick a match where a player doesn’t cheat. And, by the way, if you think that’s too strong a word, then I am happy to use alternative words, as long as it doesn’t involve “that’s what the game is all about”, “in that situation you have to go down”, or “if there is contact, you have to go down”.

They are all utter, utter codswallop. But so often are they spieled out by players, managers and pundits many people believe them to be fact.

Football is in quite a precarious position right now: cheating players everywhere, and a VAR system that is perhaps not being fully understood. Someone, at last, is trying to come up with a solution to make the game more fair.

We are in the midst of an experiment: VAR is not written into the Laws of the Game, but is being tested by the International Football Association Board which is responsible for those laws. Jumping down the throat – if it has one – of VAR isn’t helping.

And nor are the people who sit in judgment on our game – particularly the VAR-less games.

Take Rudy Gestede’s red card against Norwich last weekend. The Middlesbrough striker was booked for a challenge on Alex Tettey.

He was then shown a straight red for a poor challenge on Grant Hanley.

Boro appealed, the FA Independent Regulatory Commission had a look, and they agreed and his three-match suspension was overturned.

A statement from the FA reads: “An Independent Regulatory Commission agreed it was not serious foul play and, therefore, the player will not serve any suspension.”

So, let’s look at it this way: Gestede is on a yellow, referee Michael Jones is then perfectly placed to see the foul on Hanley. He pulls out a straight red. The alternatives were: no card, or a yellow for a foul – and, consequently, a sending off. Given he showed a straight red, then presumably option one – no card – was never on his mind.

So Gestede was pretty much off anyway. And banned.

Now, he has no suspension at all despite getting a yellow and a red in one game. Incredible.

Boro boss Tony Pulis said: “I’ve seen challenges this week in the Premier League that have been 10 times worse than that and the players haven’t been sent off.”

Ten times worse. Either Tony exaggerates or we have some seriously poor referees out there. Answers on a postcard...

The mag is back!

It’s that time of the season when the latest Pink Un magazine is on the shelves, and if I say this next one is a cracker, you have to believe me.

James Maddison is flavour of the month – don’t think that’s up for debate – and Michael Bailey has done a terrific analysis of his life... and look out for the photographs of a very young Mr Maddison!

Paddy Davitt’s taken a close look at the way Daniel Farke manages his players, with a nod to some of his predecessors, while David Freezer looks at some of the ‘bargains’ City have signed over the years.

There’s some left-field stuff from Steve Downes and David Hannant – Steve’s piece on players who didn’t quite get the love from fans is a work of art!

Yours truly has chipped in with my favourite game plus a little nudge for our friends from over the border about THAT gap.

The Pink Un Magazine - out next Saturday. It’s not to be missed...

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