Sheffield United: Heckingbottom calls for divers to be retrospectively punished after launching latest broadside

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Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, wants players found guilty of diving and other forms of gamesmanship to be retrospectively punished by the Football Association.
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Speaking after his team were beaten 3-1 by Stoke City, the 44-year-old was asked about the incident which saw Tarique Fosu cautioned for ‘simulation’ having earlier escaped a caution for a similar offence. Television replays inside the stadium revealed the hosts’ midfielder, on loan from Brentford, had thrown himself to the floor after rounding Kyron Gordon in an attempt to fool the referee.

Heckingbottom insisted the practice will continue unless the authorities change how they police the sport’s disciplinary affairs, asking: “Why are we not doing stuff, looking back, with the FA? It’s worth a gamble to cheat and go down. He (Fosu) has got done because the ref saw it on the screen, the same as we all did. When there’s no contact at all, people need to be doing something.”

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Curiously, Fosu’s second display of theatrics were nowhere near as obvious as his first. Had referee Peter Bankes intervened then, it is doubtful the 26-year-old would have taken another tumble when he hunted down possession with a United defender. Unfortunately, Fosu’s playacting distracted from an otherwise superb individual performance, which saw him force a fine save from Wes Foderingham, strike the crossbar with one shot and see another cleared off the line by Oliver Norwood.

Despite his frustration with Fosu, Heckingbottom, who has also called for officials to clamp down on deliberate time-wasting, did not lay the blame for United’s defeat at the Londoners’ door.

Alex Neil’s men deserved to prevail, after seeing Rhian Brewster cancel-out Ben Wilmot’s opener. United, who were then unable to prevent Phil Jagielka and Liam Delap score for the hosts, took to the field missing around a dozen senior professionals through injury and, in the case of Oli McBurnie, suspension.

Kyron Gordon of Sheffield United tackles Tarique Fosu of Stoke City: Andrew Yates / SportimageKyron Gordon of Sheffield United tackles Tarique Fosu of Stoke City: Andrew Yates / Sportimage
Kyron Gordon of Sheffield United tackles Tarique Fosu of Stoke City: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

“I am upset with some of the things I’ve seen,” Heckingbottom said. “But I know why they have happened. Credit to the lads, though. They kept on going, didn’t give up and fought all the way through. I’ve got no complaints with that side of things although, again, I know why some things weren’t as they should be.”