Ross Barkley has sparked another row about how easily he goes to ground under pressure, with the Everton midfielder taking a tumble during Saturday’s Premier League clash at Manchester City.
The England man was booked for his troubles and has now faced accusations of diving on two occasions this season – having previously come in for criticism following an outing against West Ham United.
His manager at Goodison Park, Roberto Martinez, has leapt to the 21-year-old’s defence, claiming that referees are too quick to pass judgement on players who go down when moving at full speed.
Barkley has also sought to play down the situation by vehemently denying that he has ever sought to con the match officials into making a controversial call in his favour.
He says it is not in his nature to act in such a manner, with his upbringing having taught him the importance of standing up for yourself and offering as good as you get in the heat of top-flight battle.
Barkley told the Liverpool Echo: “I don’t ever intend to dive. I’m a Scouser – we don’t do things like that. It’s frustrating. All the talk about what happened against West Ham, which I didn’t even intend on doing, is having an effect.
“I was expecting contact. You could see that from my reaction in that game – I got straight back up and tried to get on the ball but the ref gave the free-kick.
“I like driving forward with the ball so every now and then I expect a bit of contact because I’m committing players. Against City I was expecting the contact from Frank Lampard and there was contact. I thought it was a free-kick to us. I was disappointed the referee gave that as a foul and I got a yellow card.
“I was 100 per cent certain it should have been a free-kick. The ref made his decision and said I dived but I don’t think that’s right."
Barkley’s frustration is understandable as he must now tread carefully every time he takes to the field.
If referees start looking for theatrics from him, it could be that he sees more decisions go against him.
That is the last thing the Toffees need as they endeavour to kick-start their season and it would be disappointing to see one of English football’s brightest young talents earn an unwarranted reputation if he has – as he claims – done nothing wrong.