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Updated: Watford boss Gianfranco Zola warns Fernando Forestieri over diving
Gianfranco Zola has told Fernando Forestieri he will be dropped from the Watford side if the forward is caught diving but insists the Argentine did not deserve to be sent off this week.
Forestieri was already on a yellow card against Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night when he cut inside the defender and after taking a couple of small steps, went over despite there being no contact with the player.
Opinion on whether it was a sending off has been split. Some argue the fact 22-year-old remained on the floor for a few seconds with his hands out indicates he dived, which was the view of referee Mike Dean, but others agree with Zola that the player slipped.
Forestieri did slip over on several occasions during the first half against Huddersfield Town on Saturday and Zola has told the player he will have to change his boots if it continues to be a problem.
Zola stood by the comments he made on Tuesday night when he spoke to the Watford Observer yesterday (Thursday).
Speaking after the Charlton game, he said: “I have seen the video of the sending off and I have spoken to Fernando. He said he slipped and he didn’t dive.
“If you watch the video of the game we played the other day at Huddersfield, in the first half he kept slipping over and I was telling him to change his boots.
“He is Argentinian and he likes to play with boots with small studs and on this pitch, it rained before the match and it was slippery. He has to change because he keeps slipping.
“He told me he didn’t want to dive and I saw it, so therefore it is a pity that Mike saw it as a dive and it is disappointing for the boy because he was playing a good match.”
Argentina international Sergio Aguero recently claimed English players are given “a little bit of privilege” compared to their foreign counter-parts when it comes to diving.
When asked about the claims, Zola added: “I don’t like to generalise but regarding Fernando, he is so quick that sometimes he gets in front of defenders and he is fouled. And sometimes he is so quick that he slips.
“Because he goes to the ground so many times, he is labelled as a diver. He doesn’t and it is just that he is quicker than the defenders and if they foul him, then they foul him.
“I told him that I don’t want him diving and if I find out he is diving then he will not play. He didn’t dive, he slipped and I believe him.”
Charlton manager and former Watford defender Chris Powell’s response to Forestieri’s fall suggested he did not necessarily agree with Zola.
When he was asked about Forestieri’s claims he slipped, Powell replied with a wry smile: “He blamed it on his studs? OK then, next question please.”
Forestieri upset the Huddersfield supporters on Saturday, when he did seemingly slip over on several occasions and also went down a little too easy a few times.
The Italy Under-20 international was already being booed by the Huddersfield fans before he was brought down for the deciding penalty, which was converted by Troy Deeney.
After the Huddersfield game, Zola claimed he wasn’t concerned about Forestieri developing a reputation for diving.
He said: “No I am not concerned; the point is that he is quick and if you watch, he gets to the ball a second before the opposition and the opposition think they will get the ball and get him.
“I have already told him that in this country, he does not need to go down because he will not get an advantage.
“But if he is quicker than the opposition and he is fouled then it is a foul. They may not like it but it is as simple as that.”
On Forestieri's habit of going down dramatically, Zola joked: “We are Latin. It might be like that but if he is fouled, he is fouled. The advantage he has on the defender is that he is quicker.
“He might be dramatic sometimes but a foul is a foul.”