Alan Pardew: Referees are too lenient on diving. If a player was sent off for a really bad dive, that would stop it

The Pard View: By rightly banning Suarez for something the referee either did not see or did nothing about, Fifa have shown how retrospective action can lead to justice being done

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The Independent Football

Neymar-less Brazil can still beat Germany

What a mixture of emotions the whole of Brazil must be feeling this morning as they look back on another dramatic victory over Colombia and forward to a World Cup semi-final against Germany without their captain and their star player.

The loss of Neymar is huge on so many different levels. Jo is the only reserve striker, but whoever you brought in would struggle to fill those boots. There is a psychological aspect too, with the whole squad knowing all too well how important Neymar is. 

Then at the other end of the pitch they must do without their captain, Thiago Silva, who collected such a silly booking when all sorts of bad challenges went unpunished. But it is a team game and now the others must step up. One consolation is the performances of David Luiz, who many people predicted would cost Brazil with his defending but has done the opposite and on Friday came up with one of the goals of the tournament.

If anyone can expose him it might be Germany in what promises to be a mouth-watering semi-final. They are great party-poopers, but even without Neymar I still think Brazil have enough to beat them. From a neutral point of view, you would hope that the drama and intensity continues but with the referee taking a stronger hand from the start. Sometimes even that doesn’t work, as Howard Webb found out in the last World Cup final, and Brazil in particular have made something of an art of tactical fouling, which is why we saw so many free-kicks the other night. 

What would be a real shame would be if what has been a terrific tournament deteriorated from here on in now that there is even more at stake than before.

It was certainly a dramatic finish to the last quarter-final last night, when I hope plenty of Newcastle supporters were still up to watch Tim Krul save the day for the Netherlands. Tim is a smashing lad and it was great that he got a chance for the first time in the competition and took it so well.


Players know they can get away with diving

By rightly banning Luis Suarez for something the referee either did not see or did nothing about, Fifa have shown how retrospective action can lead to justice being done. So why not the same action for something much more common than biting – namely, diving? Just like the curse of holding and grabbing at set-pieces, it would not take many cases of severe punishment before the message got home.

I honestly think the referees have created part of the problem for themselves by not giving a yellow card for simulation early on in the tournament. I mentioned in a previous column that they let a few dives go without giving a yellow card, and if I picked up on it then certainly players and managers in the tournament would have done, realising they can get away with it. Obviously two yellows and you miss a match, so whether they were being encouraged from above not to lose top attacking players from the tournament I don’t know, but it’s still not right.

Of course, these are often very difficult hair-line decisions, even for the top referees. Take the Arjen Robben incidents in the match against Mexico. For me, the penalty was 50-50 and therefore should not have been given, especially in the last minute of a crucal game with a nation’s hopes riding on it. It just wasn’t clear cut. It needed to be cast iron to give that, so you could understand Mexico’s frustration.

In the Premier League there are players you know will go down if you touch them, Suarez being one. We warn our players about that and I’m sure other managers do the same. It’s not something that referees warn players about, however. They don’t visit dressing-rooms these days so all that happens is the captain and manager or his assistant takes the team sheet to the ref’s room, where they will say something along the lines of, “you help me and I’ll help you”. Pre-season, and maybe once during the season, there will be a visit from a referee to talk about anything special they have been told to clamp down on, or if there’s been an actual rule change. So a couple of years ago they said they were going to be strict on holding, but now you can grapple someone almost to the floor again.

If a player was actually sent off for a really bad simulated dive, that would stop it. You wouldn’t want to risk losing one of your best players for that. But of course it would have to be clear cut, with at least two of the officials absolutely certain, because to get that wrong really would mean trouble.

But if the incident is picked up clearly enough by all those television cameras, that’s the best way of protecting and helping referees. At least it might bring a ban for the next game, which would make managers and players think twice.

Water breaks good, TV adverts bad

I am all in favour of the water breaks being used for health resons but also for tactical reasons. It was surprising that anything was made of Louis van Gaal saying he used the break to change the system the Dutch were playing, which seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

It’s not as if you can’t get a message over to the team during a game, whether it’s to a player nearest to you on the touchline or one who’s been off the field for treatment. Managers can hardly be expected to take a vow of silence while the players are having a drink. The only downside from a coach’s point of view would be if your team has all the momentum and the game is suddenly stopped for three minutes. But I thought it was handled well. You could see people in the stadium enjoying a little break and chat; similarly with the television coverage, where they didn’t give us three minutes of adverts, which some people had feared if it just became a commercial opportunity to be exploited.

What really helped us to sign De Jong

Most Premier League clubs will have had two or three scouts out in Brazil, although these days they already know all about most of the European players at least. With some of those you fancy, you’re actually hoping they don’t have an outstanding tournament or the price will shoot up, as has been the case at this World Cup with people like James Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez.

For that reason we at Newcastle were happy from a selfish point of view that Siem de Jong, the Ajax captain we signed this week, did not make the Dutch World Cup squad after being injured beforehand.  

During the trounament my phone has also been buzzing with texts and calls from agents advising me to look out for this or that player from the Ivory Coast or the USA or Colombia. Agents tend to have a bad reputation but they can be a good source of information and are not simply to be ignored.

What has made the whole thing easier these days is a brilliant computer system clubs use called  Wyscout, developed in Italy, on which you can pull out information and video clips of almost any player from across the world. As an example, I got a tip from an agent during the World Cup, liked what I saw and was able to check the player out both through our own extensive scouting records and then on Wyscout. He is one we’ll be keeping an eye on.

If it were my decision, I’d have new technology  in our game

The drinks breaks, as used in cricket, are an example of not being afraid to learn from other sports. Having an enjoyable day at Wimbledon last week, I again saw the use of Hawkeye for debatable line decisions, which all the players accept, as they have to, and which the crowd like too.

Similarly I’m very much in favour of Sepp Blatter’s suggestion of being allowed to challenge two decisions per game, if the technology is right. Whether we would ever go so far as managers being able to call actual time-outs as in basketball is another matter but all these things are worth consideration and debate.