Ian Holloway: I dragged a player into my office and told him if he dived again I'd sell him

There isn't a manager in the game who encourages his players to cheat

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The Independent Football

I feel the same way about Ashley Young, Didier Drogba and anyone else who likes to collapse to the ground like a scene from Platoon as I do about Dwayne Chambers. He shouldn't compete at the Olympics because to be an Olympian you should be as quick and as good as you can without additional help. It is the same in football. You shouldn't have to cheat to get an advantage.

I feel very strongly about this and if I see any one of my players play-acting or rolling on the floor I tell them to stop being so stupid and to get up. I once had a player who completely dived in a game to get an opposition player sent off. It caused a big dust-up on the pitch and we went on to win against 10 men. But I was fuming afterwards because I hated what I'd seen. I dragged this lad into my office, fined him, and told him if he did it again I'd sell him. He was good as gold after that.

And that, for me, is the key: the emphasis is on managers more than the players to stop this happening.

But we can only do so much. You couldn't ask John Terry to run up to the referee in the FA Cup semi-final the other week and say "Ref, to be honest that ball didn't cross the line, it wasn't a goal." That won't happen and it shouldn't have to – that is why we have a referee.

But managers can influence how their players behave on the field and that is why I'm not surprised Sir Alex Ferguson has had a word with Young. You won't find a manager within the game who encourages their players to dive. I had David Moyes come into my office a few years ago to apologise for something one of his Everton lads had done during a pre-season game. Managers are like that. They are embarrassed if their players cheat.

This isn't the first time Fergie has had to act. He did the same with Cristiano Ronaldo because the bloke was spending more time on his backside than his feet. Fergie doesn't want Young to get the same reputation, so he has told him to stop being so theatrical, and from my point of view, thank God for that. I don't want to see this year's Premier League title go to someone who has fooled a referee.

Let's not gang up on Young though. There are still too many players who make a meal of things, with Drogba at the top of the list. How can you be a big great unit like he is and collapse to the ground every five minutes? It is nonsensical and it is no wonder crowds boo him everywhere he goes.

The problem we've got is that no matter what condemnation there is in the press, or from managers, it will continue, particularly among the foreign players who come from a culture where rolling around 14 times after being fouled is the norm.

Unfortunately, it all comes back to that great big bugbear of mine: we need technology to help the ref. Use technology and no player would be able to con the ref because he'd be told if something was a foul or not. If it's a foul, penalty or free kick. If not, a booking for the lad who dived.

It is simple. Yet we still persist with this archaic system where a fourth official stands around doing absolutely nowt apart from flashing a silly board around every so often.

If he was actually looking at a camera and making decisions to help the referee on the pitch then diving would disappear from the game, along with every wrong decision made, and we wouldn't have to sit here having this discussion.

Scholes: Simply the best

The PFA Player of the Year is announced today but my choice hasn't made the shortlist. Maybe that is because he only played half a year but I don't think any individual has ever had a bigger influence on a club's season than Paul Scholes.

Manchester United were struggling a little before he came out of retirement. Have a look at the results since. And he has been simply majestic throughout. It took the lad less than two games to get back into the swing and after that he looked like he'd never been away. What he does is art. He grabs hold of a game and takes it in whatever direction he likes. Nearly every pass is to feet.

England have to take him to the Euros, which is another reason why the FA need to bloody well hurry up and get someone in – so the new manager can get on the blower to Scholes and say, "Get your bag packed, you're coming with us."

Of those on the PFA shortlist, Robin van Persie would be my pick to win best player. His scoring record in an Arsenal team that hasn't had a vintage season has been something to behold. The lad is a wonderful player.

Marvellous Martinez

Well done to Roberto Martinez and Wigan. Their performance at Arsenal was about as good as I've seen all season. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a huge admirer of Martinez, both as a person and the way he gets his team playing football.

His side have been threatening to come good for so long and I'm delighted they are now getting the results their play deserves. I salute the job Roberto has done.

Di Matteo won tactical battle, but Messi will still have the final say

Can you just pass me that bowl of humble pie? I said last week that I thought Chelsea had no chance against Barcelona so I have to now take my hat off to them. They were terrific and Roberto Di Matteo deserves a medal the size of a coal bunker. Even if he doesn't get the manager's job permanently, he will get a very good job somewhere off the back of this success and he deserves it – not least because West Bromwich should never have sacked him in the first place.

But I still think Barcelona will go through. In the first game, they were superb, dominated possession, and missed three big chances. But Pep Guardiola didn't adapt his system and change it.

Perhaps getting the ball from back to front a little quicker, or inviting Chelsea on to them a little more and hitting them on the counter, might have been the way to go. Chelsea kept their shape and discipline well but it will be very different at the Nou Camp.

The key man is Petr Cech. If you have an outstanding goalie then you have a chance and that lad is superb.

If Chelsea do go through it will be one of the best results in history over two legs.

Royals fit to wear crown

Reading have been on the best run ever. I don't think I have ever seen anything like it in my time in football. They truly deserve their place in the Premier League and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy than Brian McDermott. The key to their season was McDermott turning down Wolves' approach and the club offering him a three-and-a-half-year deal. That put an end to uncertainty, and it was all geared towards winning games and getting promotion. Bringing in Jason Roberts from Blackburn was a masterstroke, too. They have only lost once since he joined.

Nothing seemed to knock them. We pulled a goal back at their place to make it 2-1 but they immediately went up the other end and scored to make the game safe. To win promotion from a league as tough as the Championship, you need to take the hits and come back stronger. They are talking about throwing money at it and about getting into Europe. With the structure of the club, their stadium, and the youth set up, they have a real chance.

In praise of pundits

I used to think Gary Neville was a totally biased horrible little fella. I mean that in the nicest possible way, just because he used to deliberately wind-up opposition fans and annoy people. But I love the lad since he became a pundit. I tend to watch every football show and he is the bloke who talks most sense.

It is almost like having a foot inside the Manchester United dressing room. He has only just finished playing but is articulate about the game and often says something you didn't know. I'm also a big fan of Graeme Souness. I think he talks an awful lot of sense, and the balance and banter between him, Jamie Redknapp and Ray Wilkins is always very watchable.