Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that Dele Alli deserved to be booked for diving at Liverpool on Sunday but also claims that overanalysing every controversy would kill the game.
The Tottenham Hotspur manager made no excuses for Alli, who went down under zero contact inside the Liverpool penalty area during the 2-2 draw, making it three occasions in which the midfielder received a yellow card for diving in his two-and-a-half season Premier League career.
However, Pochettino dismissed it as a minor issue while he made the point that football was “about trying to trick your opponent” one way or another — whether it be with a step-over, a tactical tweak or even a dive, which were a part of the game. Still, he maintained that when a player was rumbled — as Alli was against Liverpool — he had to be punished by the referee but that should be the end of the matter.
“It was a yellow card,” Pochettino said. “It happens. During different games, a lot of situations like this happen. The problem now is we are so sensitive about the situation. And then we are so focused on Dele Alli.”
“The referee was right and perfect. It was a yellow card and nothing [else]. It’s too much sometimes. There is such a focus on this type of situation. I think it’s a minimal issue.”
“Dele is not perfect. Nobody is perfect,” added Pochettino. “He is a clever boy. He is a little bit nasty. Football is a creative sport in which you need the talent that grows in a very intelligent person, a very smart brain. But the problem today is that, more than this type of situation, I am worried we are going to change the game we know.”
“We are so focused on minimal details. I am worried that in a few years, the sport we love and that people love to watch around the world, will be pushed into a very rigid, structured thing — with the VAR and with being focused too much on the small actions like this.”