A moment of mindlessness. The anticipation from James Maddison was that Brighton & Hove Albion’s defender Shane Duffy would foul him. To try to win his team a penalty, he fell to the ground without being touched.
Referee Chris Kavanagh was not fooled. He immediately saw that Maddison was being deceitful and issued the player a second yellow card of the game. It was necessary for Leicester City to play for over an hour with 10 men because of Maddison’s dismissal.
It has created unwanted attention for him which contrasts sharply with the widespread praise he previously received for his performances. They were so impressive that he earned a first call – up to Gareth Southgate’s senior England squad. All of Maddison’s qualities, creativity, imagination and vision, to name but a few, have been abundantly evident in the early part of his Leicester career.
All the honest hard work which he had undertaken to build up a reputation for being one of the best playmakers in English football has been partially undone for his dive against Brighton. It lacked the class, composure and technique which Maddison has shown so prolifically since joining Leicester from Norwich for £20 million. Instead of gaining an advantage for his team, he handicapped them for the rest of the game.
It ended in a 1 – 1 draw because without Maddison, a valiant fight was put – up by Leicester. They equalised through a Jamie Vardy penalty to earn a point. Such an outcome appeared improbable at the time of Maddison’s sending off since his team were already a goal behind. For the slightly more than hour that Leicester had to play with ten men they were very competitive.
There isn’t any scope to criticise their attitude which was excellent, but they were let down by one of their best players. He inexcusably executed an act of simulation which undermined his qualities. Just as Maddison was constructing a reputation for himself as an outstanding midfielder, he has jeopardised that by diving.
The challenge which lies ahead of him is to eradicate such misconduct from his game. By doing so, he can better concentrate and focus on displaying his skill. To get back on the right track, Maddison is going to need the support of his manager, Claude Puel, and teammates. He is far better on the pitch positively influencing games rather than sitting in the stands. There is no need for a player of Maddison’s quality to cheat and risk ruining his reputation as a result.