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Alex Neil labels Wolverhampton Wanderers’s foreign players “soft”


Preston North End manager Alex Neil has called out Wolverhampton Wanderers foreign players for being “too soft” after the 1-1 draw between the two clubs on Saturday.

Things were going well for Preston at Deepdale after they took a 52nd minute lead against the runaway Championship leaders Wolves, courtesy of Alan Browne’s strike. Things quickly turned into Wolves favour, however, when Preston midfielder John Welsh was sent off for a second bookable offence and then just two minutes later, Helder Costa equalised.

Former Norwich City boss Neil did criticise Welsh for pulling back Ivan Cavaleiro to get sent off, but he felt Wolves players were going down to easy all game and he particularly zeroed in on their foreign contingent when he told the Birmingham Live after the match: “Against the likes of Wolves they’ve got a lot of soft players haven’t they?”

Neil continued: “I think a lot of them go down and look as if they’re really hurt, which makes the referee think a challenge is worse than it actually is when in actual fact it was an honest attempt to get the ball.”

The Preston boss concluded by acknowledging that Welsh was to blame for his sending off: “John got himself sent off, but I thought the two bookings were soft to be honest.”

“The way the Wolves players go down and roll around it looks like they are really hurt, making the referee think it was a really bad tackle when in actual fact it was an honest attempt to get the ball.

“I thought John had a good game up to that point.”

These types of comments are hardly a surprise coming from a physical ex-Scottish defender that Neil was in his playing days, but is it fair for him to single out foreign players for diving in an era of football now where most players are capable of taking an easy fall to the ground no matter their nationality?

Neil’s comments are timely in that aspect a lot of England’s top players have been clouded in controversies surrounding the concept of diving. Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane just a couple of weeks ago was seen diving after a challenge from Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius in the club’s dramatic 2-2 draw at Anfield.

Also, there appeared to be controversy on whether Dele Alli was looking for the penalty that was awarded for Spurs late on in their 2-2 FA Cup fifth round draw away to League One side Rochdale.

The Rochdale manager Keith Hill certainly felt like Alli was looking for a penalty, but then in an interesting comment, he said he hoped the Spurs midfielder would do the same for England at the World Cup in the summer.

Alex Neil’s comments on Wolves’ foreign players were specific to that match and the frustration reflected from his side’s failure to win the game.

The Scotsman has a point, though, about players going down too easily in today’s game, but his comments aimed at only foreign players diving in the English game are completely naïve.

My name is Jamie Joslyn and I am a 23-year-old sports journalism graduate out of the university of Sunderland. I was born in Sunderland and I'm a huge fan of Sunderland AFC. Writing about English football is my main passion, but I have also covered the women's game and the NFL in my time. My ultimate ambition is to become a sports commentator.