When I saw Ashley Young go down theatrically in the box under Ciaran Clark's challenge against Aston Villa on Sunday, my first reaction was sheer embarrassment.
I felt embarrassed for Young for his brazen attempt to win a penalty, for all those watching the game who all immediately saw the incident for what it was and for the referee who was conned into giving it. I'm sure Mark Halsey will look back at the incident now, realise that he was tricked and regret the decision.
People are always quick to denounce foreign players when they go down easily, but English players should not be immune from the same level of criticism.
There may have been contact on the player, but not enough to send him sprawling on to the turf in the way he did. Young has to be very careful now, because that is two such incidents in as many weekends from him. I find it sad to even be talking about this about a Manchester United player, but it really was embarrassing.
It was also a shame because — given the way Villa have been playing recently — to concede a penalty after only seven minutes at Old Trafford effectively killed the game off as a contest, all but ruining the spectacle for all those who were watching.
Millions of viewers worldwide tuned in for that match — as they do for most Premier League games and especially those involving clubs the size of United — but that does not seem to bother Young and other players who are willing to try and openly deceive officials in front of the television cameras. That Young was even prepared to do it against his old club, who are still not assured of their Premier League status for next season, just shows the lack of regard for the concept of sportsmanship that is in the game these days.
Players are simply not bothered by the prospect of being branded a cheat as much as they used to be. Not so long ago, that was one of the worst things you could say about a fellow professional. Now it is little more than an occupational hazard.
Something has to be done to try and eradicate this from the game. I agree with Arsene Wenger's assertion that if a player has gained an advantage from what can later be determined as a clear dive then they should get a three-match ban.
I know there is a fine line between an attacker putting a defender in a difficult situation where they might draw a foul and blatantly cheating, but there are times when it is quite clear that it is the latter.
The Young incident is the perfect case in point. If there was a panel set up to review these incidents then it would surely find him guilty for his behaviour against Villa.
Quite clearly, just being branded a cheat by fans and the media is not enough of a deterrent. If a player knew they faced the very real prospect of a hefty suspension, and possibly a fine from their club as well, then they would think twice before going down any time a defender stuck a leg out within a yard of them.
Clubs are not going to want to have their best attacking players ruled out for three games at a time for something which is totally avoidable, and you would think that they would make sure their players behaved better in order to avoid such situations arising.
You cannot help but be concerned by young players seeing professionals acting like this and getting away with it and trying to emulate it. We cannot afford to reach a point in the future where we have a generation of players raised to believe that diving is a legitimate way of behaving.
Mind you, most levels of the game are perhaps more capable of policing themselves. Premier League players are protected in their nice, cosy bubble, but can you imagine if Young tried that sort of stunt in a Sunday League game on Hackney Marshes? I don't think he'd last too long if he did.