This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
As quoted by Sky Sports, Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has urged referees to protect Daniel James.
The Wales international endured a difficult night on Monday against Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves, and received boos from the home fans after being booked for diving in the first-half.
Now, Giggs has leapt to the 21-year-old’s defence and insisted it is up to the referees to ensure he remains protected from defenders.
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He said: “You’ve seen he gets kicked a lot. Sometimes when you anticipate it, it can look like a dive. The speed he’s going at, it can look worse, but I’m not worried about that. He gets a lot of stick and referees need to protect him.”
Having enjoyed a dream start to his United career with a goal on his Premier League debut for the club, James was effectively brought down to Earth with a shuddering halt against Wolves. The former Swansea star was unable to use his explosive pace to hurt Nuno’s side, and the opposition certainly did their best to stop him in his tracks with a team-high four fouls being committed against him.
Instead, James’ game was defined by being booked for apparent simulation, and he spent the rest of his time on the pitch being booed by the home fans. It must have been a real chastening experience for the young winger, and it will be up to him to make sure he doesn’t end up building an unwanted reputation of being a diver.
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His pace and speed will naturally make things more difficult for officials to spot if he has genuinely been fouled, and it is certainly right to hope that they look out for opposition players looking to target him with strong tackles. But Giggs’ claim of James needing “protection”?
The likes of Wilfried Zaha and Eden Hazard when he was in the Premier League made a career out of almost relishing being two of the most fouled players in the league. It represents something of a badge of honour that players need to resort to ‘dirty tactics’ to stop them. So if anything, James should simply dust himself off, smile and embrace the rough treatment.