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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Everyone will Let it Go When Your Team Does Kenny.

The eleventh of February two-thousand and twelve was always going to hold some great significance to Football fans. The North West Derby between Manchester United and Liverpool is always a big game with a major atmosphere and major consequences.

However, it is only in recent history that the game has taken on even more significance, it's now no longer a team feud but a personal one, between two of the team's top players. Back in October in the previous League meeting between the two at Anfield, both Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Manchester United full-back Patrice Evra were caught up in a spot of arguing which turned out to be racial abuse. After hours of writing pieces on what was said and why it is incredibly wrong of Suarez I'm not going to do that here, instead I'm going to focus on today's events.

The clubs met a few weeks ago in the FA Cup Fourth Round but due to Suarez' ban for racially abusing Evra, Suarez did not play against Manchester United at Anfield. The main controversy of that game was the comments from both sides regarding the incident. There was no main controversy on the pitch, mostly off it, in both the stands and the management mouths.

So for anyone to believe that today's game would go off without any issues or controversy whatsoever would be completely farcical. For everyone else, what was to come would be unsurprisingly predictable.

Almost ironically, Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea would also meet again the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, due to it being the first meeting of the two clubs and players (John Terry and Anton Ferdinand) since the infamous League game again in October, the FA allowed the clubs to bypass the pre-match handshakes to avoid any further controversy. The FA nor Premier League did not take such a stance in today's episode however.

Patrice Evra, like the sportsman he arguably mostly isn't, extended his hand towards Luis Suarez in an attempt to rectify their differences, to 'let it go' as both Liverpool Football Club and Manchester United so desperately say they want. It was a strange turn of events, instead of Suarez apologising to his victim, the victim was trying to make amends with the Footballing Pantomime Villain. Instead of shaking the hand of Evra, Suarez chose to ignore it, sending the game that would follow straight into disrepute. Evra was not pleased, referee Phil Dowd had to get involved and Social Media went berserk.

As the game started, Evra seemed to have one intention, to end Luis Suarez' career, he tried his best to go straight through Suarez early on, instead colliding with team-mate Rio Ferdinand. Evra's reaction is slightly understandable, he wanted to make amends (something Suarez should be doing) and is irritated by his lack of remorse for his actions. Although, I'm not too sure whether I would like to see Suarez leg splattered across the Old Trafford turf as much as Patrice Evra would.

There was further controversy before the end of the half, a questionable foul on Suarez from Ferdinand (who ignored Suarez in the pre-match warm-up probably due to the abuse his little brother has allegedly received) could have resulted in Ferdinand's dismissal, instead nothing was given.

It again sparked off at Half-Time where an incident in the tunnel caused police and stewards to get involved and took five minutes to resolve, it seemed to fire up the home-side as United took an early second-half 2-0 lead when defensive errors from Liverpool helped Wayne Rooney get two goals. It was a relatively quiet affair from there, Suarez did get one back for Liverpool after a mishit from Ferdinand. However, United went top of the league with a pretty comfortable second half performance.

The real controversy was the post-match comments of both Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Dalglish blasted Shreeves saying it's "bang out of order to blame Luis Suarez for anything that happened here today" it really is a low-point for Kenny. His blind faith in Suarez is not doing himself any favours. Liverpool's miscommunication of the whole matter really has dug themselves a huge hole and for Dalglish to claim that his player is still blameless when his foolish, immature and selfish action arguably cost them concentration and the game is just as farcical as Suarez snubbing Evra.

Ferguson went claimed Suarez was a "disgrace" and that "he should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again. He could have caused a riot." holds more meaning that perhaps Ferguson wants us to recognise. Whilst I agree with Ferguson's sentiments that Suarez was a disgrace, I feel his request that Liverpool remove Suarez from their team seem more tactics related than trying to prevent rioting. I feel Ferguson is more wishing Suarez to leave because he believes he could be a goal-threat not a threat to society. To credit Ferguson, after Evra's ridiculous post-match milking, to where he over-celebrated the victory like it was the end of a war, despite it being just the start of another battle it seems, Ferguson did actually criticise his player claiming "He shouldn't have done that." regarding Evra's deliberate celebration trying to spark more tensions between the clubs, arguably doing as worse as Suarez by it having the potential to cause violence.

It's fair to say, today could have been the end of a very unsavoury chapter in this illustrious derby, it looks like it's going to be another horrible episode to add to some already disgusting ones. Perhaps it's for the best these two don't have to face each-other again, even if it does bring out the best in both sides on the pitch where the foot does the talking and not the vocal chord.

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