MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 04: Adam Johnson of Manchester City is brought down by Chris Baird (R) of Fulham to concede a penalty during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Fulham at the Etihad Stadium on February 4, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
It may be a tad outlandish to think that, had Adam Johnson not dived - or 'anticipated contact' as he so wonderfully disguised it post-match - Fulham would be in a somewhat better place right now. A tad outlandish because it just isn't true. Manchester City were better on Saturday evening in what were truly Siberian conditions and, most likely, would have defeated Martin Jol's men just as convincingly without their early penalty. Yet, Whatever way you look at it, you still have to consider the advantage City gained from what is, undoubtedly, an illegal act, worthy of a yellow card and a good old fashion condemnation.
Mancini's side were immediately granted a 1-0 lead, which not only delivers them a palpable statistical advantage, but it gives them a mental edge while, in the heads of Fulham players, the game may already be beyond them - merely ten minutes into the match. City have the momentum and the force to see the game through, and yet it has come from an act that is entirely immoral.
Even Martin Jol, though, probably in his own struggling search for 'good karma', admitted that his players would have acted in the same manner as Johnson did. We'd like to think he's just taking a backwards seat, attempting to stay on the greener side of the F.A's mindset. Unfortunately for Fulham fans, however, he's probably right. Even though we can consider the club to be one of the most humble, honest and amiable around, the world of football has still taken its toll on traditionalism and, just like any other club, any means of gaining an unfounded benefit is considered, not vile or nefarious, but a genuine tactical method deployed whenever feasible.
And what a shame that is. What a shame that football can no longer win you football matches - it must be mixed in with utterly deplorable acts. What a shame that nothing can seemingly be done to counter it. And what a shame that, amidst all the uproar that rightly surrounds the phenomenon of diving, someone can draw a reasonable line between that idea and the ludicrous concept of anticipating contact.
Why should there be any differentiation between those two? They're both cons, of the highest degree, and they should both carry the same punishment.
But therein lies the problem. Dives are simple to witness as they are, on the most part, brainless in their execution. You only have to look the way of Cristiano Ronaldo to prove as much. What Johnson did gives the referee little to work with, though. The winger has moved his leg out intentionally to trip over Chris Baird but the officials have no time at all to view the act with analytical eyes. They must take it as they see it - more than likely a blur of legs over which Johnson falls. In that sense, the penalty is understandable.
Yet, it shouldn't have to be like that. We've heard it with plentiful regularity, but why can't there be a system by which penalty decisions can be challenged? They give such an unfair advantage that it makes sense to cloud penalties in a safety net that allows them to be more efficient in their distribution. There will always be a break in the game - ample opportunity to review an incident. It takes barely thirty seconds to be offered a replay. And for those that thinks it detracts from football traditions - what does diving do?
Let's face it. 2012 is here and the technology has been around for decades. All that's needed is for Sepp Blatter to step forward and make a change.
So, you may as well discard this article.