Robinson dives in over treatment of Forestieri

FERNANDO Forestieri... More sinned against than sinning?

Owls Fernando Forestieri incident booked for diving.

Unlikely ally Karl Robinson certainly thinks that the former applies to Sheffield Wednesday’s talisman, whose reputation precedes him across many rival Championship clubs and not necessarily among just fans either.

Play-acting or simulation; call it what you will but Forestieri, if you speak to some, is guilty as charged as a serial offender and nothing will convince many otherwise.

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The furore surrounding his perceived ‘theatrics’ resurfaced in the Owls’ 0-0 midweek draw with MK Dons after a challenge from Kyle McFadzean late on.

It was the third time in two months that Forestieri was cautioned for that heinous offence on an evening when plenty was at stake at both ends of the table.

Owls assistant Lee Bullen, assuming media duties after the game with an emotional Carlos Carvalhal electing to keep his counsel after being clearly aghast by the decision-making of replacement referee Darren Handley, left no-one in any doubt about his thoughts on the F word.

Bullen’s take on Forestieri latest yellow for simulation and wider reputation? ‘Ridiculous’ and ‘completed undeserved’ – sentiments which everyone connected with the Owls would concur with.

Interestingly, support for Forestieri, who received controversial cautions for similar-looking offences en route to dismissals in two games running against Preston and Hull City in the winter, is not exclusively reserved for those of an Owls persuasion, with MK Dons chief Robinson adding his weight in no uncertain terms to those who feel that the 26-year-old is being harshly treated.

It’s a refreshingly honest stance for a manager whose relegation-haunted side had plenty to potentially gain from Forestieri treading on thin ice or exiting the fray.

On that booking, Robinson, whose side drew on a night when only three would have kept their survival fight truly alive, said: “It was disgusting. Sometimes, he gets dealt a very rough ride.

“I think we get carried away by so many continental players going down far too easily with silly fouls, but that was an unbelievable tackle by Kyle and he obviously got leathered because of the speed he was running at. To be booked for that was the second worst decision of the game.

“What a player he (Forestieri) is. He did something in the first half and I applauded it by mistake! He is an amazing young man and I have nothing but plaudits to give him. I know what qualities he possesses and what a talent he is.

“If you are asking me to pick a team of the year, he is certainly in it in this league – 100 per cent.”

It remains a moot point whether many rival bosses would be so charitable regarding Forestieri if a similar incident transpired particularly during the play-offs when seasons are on the line.

Wednesday would be wholly justified in fearing that Forestieri could, unjustly, be punished if a similar flashpoint arrived, with that likely to represent a genuine concern for all and sundry.

On Tuesday’s decision, Bullen said: “It’s not a yellow. But he is paying for some sort of reputation. He is not that type and is probably one of the most fouled players in this league. It is getting frustrating.”

“I am sure it spurs him on, but he shouldn’t have to justify himself. He’s one of the best players in the league.”

Frustration was also abound for Middlesbrough, denied a massive three points at Burnley courtesy of a late Michael Keane leveller as the Teessiders were dealt a taste of their own medicine following two stoppage-time winners in their previous two games.

On a night when victory would have seen Boro move four points clear at the summit, things tightened up further at the top, with Keane’s strike ensuring that the top three are separated by just two points.

Mathematically speaking at least, Hull – with a game in hand – could still gatecrash the top two, but would need to win their last four games and implosions from the leading trio for that to occur.

Steve Bruce accepts that is a highly unlikely scenario, with a more pressing concern being that Hull rediscover some form and dynamism in time for the play-offs – with Tuesday’s 2-1 win at Reading being a step in the right direction.

Bruce, whose side have now clinched a top-six place, said: “We are still eight points adrift and unless there is an almighty collapse by those above us, which you cling to, then we will not go straight up.

“As I said from the off, we have got no divine right to do that.

“But we have got ourselves in the play-offs and we will be a match for anybody.”