James Shield: AFC Bournemouth players have a cheek to talk about 'respect' after Sheffield United match

I think he was taking the Michael. Well, I definitely hope he was.Because if Dan Gosling really believes Jonathan Moss showed AFC Bournemouth zero respect during their defeat at Sheffield United, then he needs to step outside of the glasshouse and stop throwing stones.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 9:22 am

Because if Dan Gosling really believes Jonathan Moss showed AFC Bournemouth zero respect during their defeat at Sheffield United, then he needs to step outside of the glasshouse and stop throwing stones. Whether the referee made references to the visitors’ lowly position in the Premier League table or not.

“I thought he was a disgrace,” Gosling complained earlier this week. “The comments that he made especially to me and one other player – talking about the relegation zone and ‘you’re still in the relegation zone’, ‘you’re having one’, ‘your team’s having one’ this and that and it was very, very disrespectful.”

What was disrespectful, to Chris Wilder’s side, those who had paid to watch the match and the spirit of the sport itself, was the conduct of some visiting players during Sunday’s encounter. Writhing in agony whenever they were touched, only to miraculously recover when the action continued or a yellow card was shown, their theatrics would have been hilarious if they weren’t so pathetic. And they were demeaning to the reputation of a club who, after recovering from the brink of extinction only 12 years ago, should be an example for the rest of the English Football League to follow having risen from the fourth to the first tier of the domestic game in the space of six seasons.

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Eddie Howe and those members of his squad who maintained their dignity deserved better too. They should have a quiet word about sportsmanship and, for the sake of their own survival hopes, the importance of focusing on football rather than amateur dramatics ahead of their return to action against Burnley later this month. Because, as they demonstrated for long periods of last weekend’s contest, Bournemouth possess more than enough talent to lift themselves out of trouble providing they stick to what they do best. Their passing and movement off the ball, like United’s, can be a joy to behold.

I’ve got no axe to grind with Bournemouth or any member of their coaching staff. Although doubtless, given the partisan nature of the game, this will be painted as a biased, ill thought out and uncalled for attack by some of their following.

There’s nothing wrong with passion or backing your boys to the hilt; in fact, no matter what some of the PC brigade might claim, the game would be poorer without that. But sometimes it’s important to put allegiances to one side, take a broader view, and consider the damage Philip Billing - who despite being built like a brick outhouse proved easier to knock down than a two man ridge tent - is doing when he rolls, screams and falls over at the merest hint of physical contact. Or Harry Wilson, whose paralysis after being caught by Enda Stevens was cured when the United defender received a yellow card. Or Gosling, who was seemingly in need of an ambulance after being tackled near the centre circle during the second-half before breaking into a sprint minutes later. If Moss did say anything out of turn, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt because he was probably as sick of the simulation as I was.

Thankfully it stopped when Bournemouth, who had earlier taken the lead, fell behind during the closing stages. Isn’t that strange.

Chris Wilder, manager of Sheffield United, has an exchange of views with AFC Bournemouth's Andrew Surman during the Premier League match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture date: 9th February 2020: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Those of us of a certain vintage will remember the days when players pretended not to be hurt when they were actually in dire need of treatment after being mauled by the likes of Chopper Harris, Tommy Smith or Norman Hunter. I’m not advocating a return to the days when it was possible to commit ABH on the pitch and get away with nothing more than a gentle telling off. But what we’ve got now - a climate where cheating, because that’s what simulation is, seems to be tolerated and accepted because folk are prepared to do ‘whatever it takes’ - is arguably even worse. Because it makes it impossible to referee, officiate or even take football seriously. It also makes it a laughing stock compared to disciplines like boxing, rugby union and rugby league; where not so long ago a player was so prepared to do ‘whatever’, he carried on despite suffering, (readers of a nervous disposition should look away now), a ruptured testicle.

United, a squad fortunately comprised of much sterner stuff than Billing, Wilson and co, have frequently been encouraged to become more streetwise since gaining promotion last term. They should ignore this advice. Not because they are fifth in the table and seemingly doing just fine as they are. But because we know what some of those advocating this course of action really mean. Wilder and his players should carry on in the same vein and become standard bearers for proper conduct. Not take part in a race to the bottom.

The Star's Sheffield United writer James Shield: Scott Merrylees
AFC Bournemouth's Junior Stanislas (right) has words with referee Jonathan Moss during a Premier League match at Cardiff City Stadium last season: Mark Kerton/PA Wire.
John Lundstram celebrates scoring Sheffield United's wining goal during the Premier League match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield: Simon Bellis/Sportimage