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Football Fail: Everton v Liverpool



Part of the experience of being a football fan – even being a neutral – is that from time to time you have to accept the failings of the modern game. The Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park on Saturday was just such an occasion.

For those of you just returning from a weekend excursion to a nearby planet, the Everton-Liverpool game was predictably noisy, fiery and antagonistic. Liverpool were the eventual winners (2-0), but the main talking point was the sending off of Everton player Jack Rodwell.

To be brief, Rodwell lunged in with both feet to win the ball from Liverpool striker. Rodwell won the ball cleanly, but the nearby Suarez opted to leap in spectacular fashion as if the Everton midfielder had actually made contact with him. The referee, Martin Atkinson, blew his whistle, trotted confidently up to Rodwell and showed him the red card.

With the atmosphere inside the stadium already at thermonucleic levels, the air became even more saturated with ire and vitriol between the two sides and the referee. The match staggered on through a series of ever more ill-tempered episodes as several players tried to dismantle their opposing number using sheer brute force. Unconfirmed reports also suggest that some actual football broke out, but that’s not vital to our discussion right now.

What is important to note is how stupefying an effect the game had on everyone involved in it. For a start there was Referee Atkinson who was almost universally condemned for not spotting the legality of Rodwell’s tackle. Many observers have commented that Rodwell didn’t even deserve a yellow card, let alone a red one, and technically they’re correct.

That said, no-one seems to be asking why Rodwell needed to lunge in with both feet for an open ball. True, he didn’t actually touch Suarez or anyone else and yes, the match was as heated as it has been in recent times, but the potentially dangerous lunge showed the Everton player to be lacking responsibility in his play. Ifs and buts, perhaps, but worth acknowledging ahead of a serious injury that Rodwell’s likely to inflict on an opponent in the future.

Then we have the managers, Kenny Dalglish and David Moyes. In the post-match interviews seen on Match of the Day, Dalglish was first asked about the sending off. He told the interviewer that he was disappointed to be discussing the incident rather than the game as a whole. Aside from the fact that there was little football in the match to actually discuss, he went on to admit that he hadn’t seen the incident very clearly anyway. Perhaps the former Scotland international should have said that in the first place, but hey-ho.

Moyles, as you’d expect, was keen to criticise the referee and his apparent failings, yet for all that he didn’t even bother to lodge a complaint with Atkinson after the game. Hardly the actions of a man who believes in his own principles and certainly redolent of the modern football manager that thinks ‘all refs are crap’ / ‘none of them like us’. For the record, Everton have now lodged an appeal against Rodwell’s red card, presumably under sufferance.

We obviously can’t speak of football failings without a further mention of Match of the Day, if only briefly. There was an obvious irony in hearing pundit Alan Shearer complaining that the referee hadn’t done his job properly, especially when you recall Shearer’s ‘Ben Arfa’ episode from last season, but that wasn’t the biggest fail on their part.

For reason’s best known to themselves, they failed to acknowledge the terrible sight of Everton fans throwing plastic bottles and other objects at nearby Liverpool players towards the end of the game. Here was a chance for the BBC to humiliate the mindless idiots who do such stupid things, yet they chose not to bother. An ideal opportunity wasted, one would have to say.

All in all then, a multiple fail on the part of players, managers, broadcasters and fans alike. Not exactly a high point in the history of Premier League football, but hopefully one that everyone can improve upon the next time these two teams meet.

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