'English football is on a slippery slope' claims Sheffield United's Paul Heckingbottom after penalty controversy

Sander Berge, the Sheffield United midfielder, was praised for refusing to go down in order to win a penalty during his team’s defeat by Crystal Palace, with caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom warning English football is on a slippery slope if players need to accentuate challenges to win spot-kicks.

Sunday, 9th May 2021, 3:00 pm

United were trailing 1-0 when Berge making his first start since December, appeared to be impeded by Tyrick Mitchell as he drove towards the six yard box.

However, with the Norway international electing to stay on his feet rather than draw Simon Hooper’s attention to the foul, the referee allowed play to continue; much to Heckingbottom’s obvious annoyance, although he later made it clear he was not blaming the officials for the final scoreline.

“If Sander does go down in the box, then we get a penalty,” said Heckingbottom, after watching goals from Christian Benteke and Eberechi Eze heap more misery on the hosts. “If John Egan takes out Eze before their first and gets a yellow card, they probably don’t score then.

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Some people might call it naivety, but I don’t. Unfortunately it’s the way the game is going and what has been a great thing for Sheffield United for so long - that honesty - is now seen as a weakness.”

“In no way am I blaming the referees or the officials - no way at all - but we are now in a situation where we are promoting people going fon to get free-kicks or appealing for them.

“Unfortunately, it’s probably not going to go back to the way it was, but I don’t think it’s a good situation to be in.”

An important message: Thank you for reading this article, one of dozens we publish every single day to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative coverage of YOUR club. This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to from the football team at The Star, please consider taking out a subscription to our new discounted sports-only package. You'll find all the details at https://www.thestar.co.uk/subscriptions/sports. Your support is much appreciated.

Sander Berge should have been awarded a penalty during Sheffield United's defeat by Crystal Palace: Simon Bellis/ Sportimage
Sander Berge in action for Sheffield United against Crystal Palace: Simon Bellis/ Sportimage