Game Should Have Been About ‘The Football’

This game between Manchester United and Liverpool was always going to be one with a tense atmosphere, with every eye on the actions of Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez.

No peace yet: Suarez pulled out of shaking Evra's hand at Old Trafford. (source: thisisanfield)

But many said the game would not be about ‘the football’ – and in the best domestic league in the world I find this utterly ridiculous and quite frankly, unacceptable. A competitive battle, yes, but surely real fans want it to revolve around the quality of each team.

Racism in the game has without doubt risen to the surface over the last few months, and it is worrying that it still shadows a minor part of the modern day. It should not be tolerated in football or in any part of society, and you would like to hope that further action in the near future can contribute to it’s complete exit from football.

However with regards to the recent match between United and Liverpool – the case on Luis Suarez has been closed, he has served an eight match and if both clubs had of acted in a certain manor the situation would have been dealt with. Firstly, Luis Suarez made the outrageous decision to not shake hands with Patrice Evra before the game.  It is an FA ruling that players should do this and if both men shook hands – as it was clear Evra was willing to do – then it would have settled a lot of negativity surrounding kick off. Him not doing so led to Rio Ferdinand deciding to pull his hand away when the striker walked in front of him. Two wrongs don’t make a right and coincidently football failed to take centre stage. Instead we were left in the first minute with what an angry Evra willing to go out of position to take down Luis Suarez – a decision that could have proved costly for not only his team mate Rio Ferdinand’s neck, but also the team itself.

The game continued and in all fairness discipline on the pitch was not an issue in most parts. The first half was competitive but neither side managed to gain much advantage. But at half time once again things turned sour, maybe a spectacle for a fan who cares little about the quality of football, but not for the true admirers of the game as I’m sure both clubs have plenty of. Luis Suarez kicking the ball away triggered a crowd of players to surround referee Phil Dowd – which continued into the tunnel when it supposedly took four or five minutes for arguments to stop and for all players to go into their respective dressing room. The cause of the problem was that Evra tried to confront Suarez, no doubt about the incident prior to kick off – and this led to a number of players defending their own team mates.

From the start of the second half it was clear United came back on less effected by the

Game Changer: Rooney's two goals gives United a vital three points. (source: bbc.co.uk)

half time situation. Two goals within five minutes from Wayne Rooney all but sealed the victory for the home side. Although Liverpool got a consolation goal with ten minutes to go from no other than Luis Suarez, United controlled most of the second half and overall deserved the victory. But the controversy did not end there, at the end of the game Evra saw it suitable to celebrate directly in front of Suarez, obviously aiming to antagonise the Uruguayan. Yes emotions were high, but this was unprofessional of the defender.

After the game Jamie Redknapp expressed his belief that the FA should have abolished the hand shaking prior to kick off, as they did recently at the game between Chelsea and QPR. I agree that this was the cause of the events that followed. However, for one the shaking of hands is part of an FA respect campaign which is needed now more than ever in English football. It does not send out the correct message to any fan or player, at any level. Secondly, if it wasn’t this incident, it would have just been another that triggered the events that followed. The fact is that both players and clubs could and should have acted more responsibly, and it is that, and only that, that would have meant the game was ‘about the football’.

What went wrong? 

  1. Suarez should have shaken Evra hand. Despite not wanting to (and I’m sure Evra wasn’t happy about it either), he should have acted more responsibly. Ferdinand should also not have lowered his standards.
  2. Evra should never have celebrated the way he did in front of Suarez. I can appreciate emotions were high but Old Trafford has a large enough pitch for the pair not to meet.
  3. Kenny Dalglish once again dealt with the situation terribly and in my opinion he has been a real disappointment regarding this issue. I respect he wants to defend his own players but his comments in recent weeks have been ridiculous. Not helping himself, Suarez, or the club.

Honest: Ferguson admits Evra's actions were not suitable. (source: overtimeonline)

One person that was spot on was, as much as Liverpool fans will hate it, Sir Alex Ferguson. He showed the sort of behaviour and honesty that Dalglish could really use at the minute. When questioned what he thought about Evra antagonising Suarez with his celebrations he replied ‘That’s wrong, he shouldn’t have done that’. His comments on how Suarez should not play for Liverpool again were strong, and of course unlikely, but you can see his point – Liverpool is a global club with a huge history and a fantastic reputation, it seems Mr Suarez is going out of his way to destroy that. Finally an unbiased and honest comment in this saga – if more people had acted the way Fergie did then the situation would be far closer to being resolved by now. Instead we are left no closer to an ending, and more games are likely to be about factors other than the football. It is a shame that this problem is beginning to stain what is building up to be a fantastic Premier League season.

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