The best player I’ve sever seen in the Premier League was a conman.
Luis Suarez loved a dive at Liverpool, a hobby he’s taken to Barcelona with him, judging by his Champions League performance in last season’s miracle comeback win over Paris Saint Germain.
Mention his name in my presence and the biting and the tumbling spring into my mind as easily as his genius with a ball at his feet.
Mention Marcus Maddison to a growing number of League One fans and the word ‘cheat’ will be delivered in the same sentence as ‘top talent’ and isn’t that a shame?
Even many Posh fans are turned off by the antics of the most naturally gifted player in the squad.
I bow to no-one in my admiration for Maddison the footballer, the brilliant crosser of the ball and the scorer of fantastic goals (well apart from his chairman and my own son), but the clutching of his ankle after every strong challenge, legal or not, accompanied by a yelp of apparent pain is most irritating.
It’s not as though it fools anyone anyway. Referees are aware of his penchant for nonsense and act accordingly. Maddison will one day be the player who cried wolf once too often and a serious injury or a blatant penalty will be ignored because of his reputation.
Last Sunday the two faces of Maddison were exposed to a national TV audience at AFC Wimbledon. The magical footwork, a goal, one set up by himself, an assist, and the creation of other scoring chances made him the outstanding player on the park by some distance.
But when he threw himself to the ground holding his face after the slightest of contacts to his forehead (admittedly initiated by an opponent) there was most probably a collective groan from the Posh fans and doubtless rage from those with less of an affinity for the club.
It was embarrassingly cringeworthy. Maddison might be a Championship-standard footballer, but he’s a non-league standard thespian.
It was a ridiculous attempt to get an opponent sent off, and one fraught with danger in the days of simulation panels which appear to have been set up with the aim of catching lower division footballers.
Why you’d run the risk of a two-match retrospective ban in return for the opposition playing with 10 men for eight minutes is beyond me.
It’s probably naive to believe Championship clubs will be put off signing Maddison because of his theatrics. After all clubs rarely condemn their own players for blatant attempts at cheating. Such ignorance is a green light to carry on trying to con officials.
I note the rush of opposition fans to hang Maddison on social media, but those same fans would most probably stay silent if their own players act in a similar fashion.
But that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t mean Posh or their fans have to play that game. I’d hit Maddison with a fine and warn him against dragging the club’s name through the mud in future.
Maddison was brilliant at Tranmere last night (November 16) and ignored some intense provocation from the home side as he went about tearing them apart. That needs to be the norm.