Not fit for purpose

So Manuel Lanzini will be watching with us tomorrow, no doubt shuffling about on the bench clutching professional footballers’ latest accessory of choice, a hot water bottle.

Demarai Gray will, of course, be playing against Manchester United while Alvaro Morata is equally under-employed for Chelsea's trip to Everton. Those three decisions by the FA's so-called disciplinary system underline why the whole thing is just not fit for purpose.

A system based on guess work, opinion, knee jerk reaction, who shouts the loudest or just wholly inadequate process that makes the whole thing a shambles.

If a player can get a yellow card (admittedly his fifth of the season) and be banned for a bit of light-hearted 'celebration' after scoring a last seconds Cup semi-final winner - that's Morata - while two Spurs players can also get just a yellow card for horrendous career-threatening tackles and still not be banned, is beyond me. It's a disgrace.

Of course I am a little biased when it comes to the Lanzini saga, it happened right in front of me. But I don't want this to be a tirade about us and our misfortunes, all rival clubs think Lanzini is a nasty little cheat while we feel there is some reasonable doubt about the decision. That's the way of the world.

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What concerns me is the arbitrary way the FA operate. No transparency, no logic or consistency. They have invented their own new vanity rule about diving, they have to be seen to be doing something. Manu was never going to win an appeal, that would have laid the FA wide open for even more abuse, their disciplinary system already considered a joke following the rumpus over the womens' national team.

My view, for what it is worth, on Lanzini is that it was borderline. On his long run from his own half he had been blatantly kicked by Kevin Wimmer, given a dig by Joe Allen and then gone down when Erik Pieters planted his thigh in the Argie's path and waited for the impact. Which Manu was looking for.

But there was contact, Pieters made no attempt to play the ball and admitted that contact was made. His manager Mark Hughes spent the whole weekend insisting there had been no contact. The referee's view as crucial, ten yards behind and a clear sight. He saw the contact and then blew for the penalty.

Regardless, it's over now. The FA acted presumably after a host of media called the FA's duty press officer on Sunday wanting a quote. He will have said, "we'll look in the morning", which gave everyone the 'FA to probe Lanzini dive' headline they wanted.

Various pundits, ex-players, managers, ex-officials had all had their say on MotD and Goals on Sunday, and the view was split, but with most accepting there had been contact.

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By Monday, the FA cobbled together one of their early-morning trios of ex-manager, ex-player, ex-referee and that threesome had no doubt, 100 per cent dive. Ok, we appeal, and another trio, same vintage but independent this time (and the first panel wasn't?) and all three said, a dive. So we live with it, although surely there is some doubt with so many conflicting views.

No more than four hours after the decision is announced, Leicester's Gray wins a penalty against Manchester City (now stop laughing you lot, I can see the irony there). Kyle Walker clearly prodded the ball out of play, there was minimal contact if none at all, but Gray has perfected the art of diving forward while looking back over his shoulder to appeal to referee Bob Madley. That, in itself, is a technique worthy of a RADA card.

This time the FA find another faceless threesome for an offence equally, if not worse that Lanzini's, and this time they cannot agree. So there we have it, guesswork, opinion, back of a fag packet justice. Gray plays when he should be banned, Lanzini doesn't play. As I said, the debate over Manu's offence is not the point of this piece. You would expect me to be biased, but it is the FA I am gunning for.

If they are going to have their new pet ruling, it must be openly honest, transparent, the panel should always be the same three people so there is consistency. I don't believe they cannot find the same likely suspects for each hearing. The Pools Panel used to have the same old hands week after week, so you can find experienced people to administer a consistent level of decision making.

And then, of course, there is the long-held belief by many that the FA are scared of the top six. If they want, I can point them in the direction of serial offenders there who should be in the frame weekly.

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And that's another thing. The FA should not pick and chose which offence to investigate. Every penalty decision in the Premier League, at least, each weekend should be reviewed as a matter of course. The view that they pick on soft targets continues to grow. Some virtual unknown from Everton, Oumar Niasse, was the only previous player banned for simulation this season.

We can all point the FA in the general direction of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero, Jesus, David Silva, Fabian Delph, to name most of City's divers, along with Eden Hazard, Carlos Sanchez, Ashley Young, Philippe Coutinho, Dele Alli, and of course Wilfried Zaha, the only one there not playing - just yet - for a top six club.

I mention Delph because he produced a shocking dive against us recently that produced the free-kick that Man City scored their winner from. I assume the FA cannot be bothered to look at spots of elevation that don't happen in the penalty area.

Start sorting that lot out, and the rest of us will hold our hands up and accept more readily any of our own players who are trying to qualify for their nation's Olympic diving team.

Of course, the FA can always hide behind their ruling that incidents cannot be investigated if the official has seen them, and acted upon them. Thus, Kane and Alli can get away with those horror tackles from last weekend because they were punished with a yellow.

If you can tell a referee he was wrong over not punishing a diver, you can surely tell them they are wrong for just dishing out a yellow when red was needed.

So, to sum up. The FA has to be open and even-handed. It must take on the big six as well as the rest. This time, we have suffered the loss of our most creative player. Next time it could be anyone. Justice should be consistent.

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