Diving is on the increase - Hughes

Blackburn boss Mark Hughes has admitted the diving culture is far more prevalent now than it was in his playing days.

Blackburn boss Mark Hughes has admitted the diving culture is far more prevalent now than it was in his playing days.

Hughes is no stranger to the storm of controversy currently surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s antics at Middlesbrough on Saturday, having angered Montpellier during a European Cup Winners’ Cup tie in 1991 when he fell to the floor from an apparent headbutt by Pascal Ballis when, in fact, there had been no contact.

However, incidents such as those were extremely rare in Hughes’ illustrious career.

While the combative former Manchester United forward accepts diving was part of the game during his own career, he feels the tactic is now ued far more often in the current era because of the attitude to it across Europe.

“In some countries, gaining free-kicks in good areas is viewed as positive, intelligent football play,” he said.

“Obviously, if players come to this country who have been taught to play the game that way, that is what they will continue to do and we have to accept that.

“Diving is more prevalent these days than it was when I was starting off but you can’t say British players are squeaky-clean, even if they are less inclined to do it.”

Hughes feels the whole culture of the game has changed in relation to diving, not just in terms of the players who do it, but also the ensuing crowd reaction.

However, he does have some sympathy for the players, given the ferocious pace of the modern game.

“If someone tripped you up in my day, most people would jump up and confront the guy who had done it,” he observed. “If you stayed down, the crowd would be saying you were soft, or words to that effect.

“Nowadays, the fans are screaming for the referee to send the guy off.

“But it is also important for people to understand the pace, power and strength of the game these days.

“If you are running at any sort of decent speed, it doesn’t take a lot to knock you out of your stride.”

Hughes will hope Blackburn avoid a similar storm when they head to Charlton tomorrow, having finally ended their six-game streak without a win by beating Fulham on Saturday.

The result was especially notable given it was the first time striking duo Benni McCarthy and Shabani Nonda has scored in the same game for Rovers.

While McCarthy has enjoyed a spectacular start to his Rovers career, finding the net eight times so far, Nonda has found it much harder to adapt to the English game.

Currently on a season-long loan from Roma, Hughes has the option of signing the 29-year-old DR Congo international on a permanent deal and he has been impressed by what he has seen so far.

“It is hard for strikers to adapt to the Premiership, probably harder than for players in any other position,” he said.

“You are used to coming up against certain types of defenders and have developed the skills and intelligence required to unpick that kind of defence.

“But when you come to England, there is a lot more power, pace and aggression. I have known many players come from other countries who have found it very difficult in the opening weeks of their career over here.

“Although Shabani has not scored the same number of goals as Benni, I have been impressed with how well both of them have done so soon. We do have the option of making the loan deal permanent if it suits both parties.

“A fee has been set but we don’t have to think about that for a good while yet.”

Rovers could be without veteran defender Stephane Henchoz for their trip to the Valley after he picked up a thigh injury against Fulham, although Tugay is available after he completed a one-match ban.

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