Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A lesson for Ngog: Make sure you dive properly next time

SILLY David Ngog, eh?

Silly for diving and cheating his way to a penalty that saved face for an increasingly desperate-looking Liverpool against Birmingham City.

And even sillier, apparently, for not diving the "right" way.

So now calls for him to be banned, castrated, hung...he's scum, a cheat, a poison to the game.

So not an over the top reaction or anything.

"King Con" screamed one tabloid, "Cheat" boomed another.

You'd think no-one has ever dived in a football match before.

Only they have, haven't they? There's Didier Drogba for starters, a man mountain who has made tumbling over at the slightest touch an art form. Then there's Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eduardo, and, dare I say it, Steven Gerrard. 

Ngog though, has dived once. Once.

So to be tearing into the 20-year-old like he'd used the steps of Soho Square as a toilet is a tad extreme.

Had he stayed on his feet he would have probably been sliced in half by Lee Carsley, a Championship clogger who should count himself lucky to be in the top flight.

So his mistake was to fling himself floorwards, right? He should have hurdled the challenge and landed on his feet.

No, even better. He should have left his leg trailing, made sure there was contact, then gone over.

I've seen lots of people saying that today - welcome to the flawed logic of football - it's still cheating. So if you're jumping on your high horse about David Ngog, you should have been saddling up for Darren Bent at the weekend.

Yet Bent, who left his leg trailing to win a penalty for Sunderland against Spurs, was actually praised for his actions by Alan Shearer on Match of the Day.

And he certainly hasn't been on the end of the stick Ngog is getting from journalists, fans, ex-players and former officials from across the land.

Carsley was quick to take the high ground with Ngog: "I’m sure he has got a family, well if I went home having done that, I’d be embarrassed. You’re supposed to be teaching your kids an example and that is just an embarrassing case of cheating."

Yes, the same Carsley who has made flying into challenges his dubious 'trademark'. The same Carsley who jumped into a above-the-knee, studs up challenge on Chris Iwelumo earlier this year that saw the Wolves striker leave the field on a stretcher.

Maybe Ngog had seen the video? And I wonder what Carsley's family thought after that tackle? People in glass houses...

Speaking of which, Graham Poll. 

"What an absolute disgrace David Ngog was in committing one of the most blatant dives I have ever seen," ex-ref Poll told the Daily Mail.

"Referee Peter Walton should have a serious look at himself as he really must detect such obvious simulation and punish it.

"Watching the game on television I immediately called it as a dive - not being clever, just that it was so obvious." 

As obvious as showing the same player three yellow cards in one game perhaps?

Back to the N'Gog incident, Carsley was nowhere near the ball. At the very least he would have obstructed N'Gog's run. So is the furore over the spot kick really that justified?

It's a shame he did what he did, because Ngog had earlier scored a cracking goal. And the skill to beat two players before the penalty incident wasn't bad either.

Add that to the cool-as-you-like finish to seal the 2-0 victory over Manchester United and Ngog - a regular in the 'flops' column of people who like to list Rafa Benitez's signings - is looking a snip at £1.5million.

The stats say so too. Opta posted this yesterday: "33.3% - David Ngog and Fernando Torres have exactly the same conversion rate in the Premier League this season. Understudy."

Four goals from four starts and five sub appearances this season is not to be sniffed at.

Now we just have to hope that his character is as strong as his goalscoring ability.

Because one thing's for sure, he won't be allowed to forget his dive in a hurry, especially in a slow news week in the run up to internationals.