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Rodwell red card ruins Merseyside derby

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Phil McNulty | 21:16 UK time, Saturday, 1 October 2011

Good gamblers know a sure thing when they see one - which explains an unusual scene in the Goodison Park press box in the moments before kick-off in the Merseyside derby.

A well-known sporting figure, not involved in football it should be stressed for the conspiracy theorists, noted that Martin Atkinson was taking charge of the 216th meeting of Everton and Liverpool and commandeered a laptop to have a little last-minute flutter on the likelihood of a sending off.

This was a fixture with a history of red cards presided over by a referee with a habit of awarding them. And the money was on its way to the bank after only 23 minutes when Jack Rodwell was sent off in the defining moment of this derby.

Rodwell was the 12th player to be sent off in the last 16 Merseyside derbies and the 15th player to be dismissed by Atkinson since the start of last season - but simple statistics do not do justice, or in this case injustice, to the incident.

In preparing to criticise Atkinson for a poor, game-changing decision, one must make the usual proviso that not many would seriously want to take the sort of action that sees them villified for 67 minutes of a sunny Saturday afternoon by in excess of 30,000 people.

I, for one, might even accept nailing my hand to a bedside cabinet as a preferable option to taking charge of a Premier League football match with all the responsibilities and pitfalls this entails. It is not a job I would take, a decision confirmed by watching and hearing Atkinson walk off at half-time and full-time, security official at his side, with deafening abuse ringing in his ears.

Atkinson, however, has chosen to accept this responsibility - and in doing so must accept the criticism that came his way after sending Rodwell off for what, to almost every pair of eyes except his own, looked to be a perfectly legitimate tackle on Luis Suarez.

Rodwell's red card was the first of his career

Was he swayed by Suarez's tumble and prostrate position after the tackle? Was he persuaded by the swift appearance of Lucas demanding punishment for Rodwell? Did he feel there was malicious intent on Rodwell's part aside from a simple desire to win the ball? All may be mitigating factors.

Atkinson should only have been persuaded by Rodwell's clean sweep of the ball away with a single foot that actually put this in the realms of a good, clean tackle rather than a red card offence.

It was the moment a competitive, entertaining, evenly contested Merseyside derby ceased to be all those things.

As always in these contentious moments, the debate turned to the introduction of video technology - but surely this should only be for line decisions? It has to be hoped open and shut cases such as this are called correctly by the referee standing just yards away.

"The decision changed the game," said Match Of The Day pundit Lee Dixon.

"If this is a red card we should all pack up and go home because it's going to become a non-contact sport.

"Rodwell went for the ball and got there before Suarez. His foot wasn't high but there was a little contact.

"Different referees are going to have different interpretations of the laws, that's just human nature, but when the same referee has different interpretations, that's inconsistency.

"Tony Hibbert's challenge on Charlie Adam was worse and the ref didn't even give a free-kick so you can understand why players and managers get frustrated."

While Alan Shearer commented: "There is no way that's a red card. No way. I'm lost for words. I can't for the life of me see how that's a red card."

Everton mounted a 10-man rearguard action, even escaping a penalty when Tim Howard saved superbly from Dirk Kuyt - but there was an inevitability about the two goals in the last 20 minutes from Andy Carroll and Suarez that had lingered in the air from the moment the unfortunate Rodwell made a very reluctant exit.

Rodwell, whose promise has stalled in the last 18 months, has been required to inject extra steel into his game in an attempt to make him a more complete package. So it was ironic that he suffered for a legitimate attempt to do so.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish recently held talks with Mike Riley, the general manager of Professional Game Match Officials, after complaining that his club was being "battered" by refereeing decisions.

He could have no complaints here. It was Everton who took the hit when Rodwell walked, although as he rightly pointed out Liverpool still had to complete the job and did it in comfort once Carroll, who hinted at his potential threat in the second half, made the breakthrough.

Everton boss David Moyes, who questioned Atkinson's appointment for this particular game, also noted that it was the first time he had officiated one of his matches since he picked up a fine for confronting him at the frantic conclusion of a draw with Manchester United at Goodison Park at this stage last season.

And, visibly downcast he said: "I just thought the sending off ruined the game. You get lots of questions from people asking about derbies, tackles and sendings off but that wasn't even a bad tackle.

"I don't even know if we can appeal. I would have been disappointed had it been a free-kick and if he had got a yellow card I think people would have asked 'what's that for?'"
Suarez, who certainly carries an element of mischief to go with his brilliance, was cast just underneath Atkinson as the villain of the piece and was subjected to some very poor behaviour from Everton fans when they threw objects in his direction when he went to take a late corner.

The Uruguayan was still the most menacing attacking presence on the pitch and his importance to Liverpool's hopes of making the top four this season cannot be underestimated. He might make enemies with that touch of devil in his make-up, but not at Anfield.

Also pivotal to the outcome was the respective strength of the squad. With Everton inevitably tiring, Liverpool were able to introduce Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy for the disappointing Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam.

These are riches beyond the reach of Moyes on his budget and that extra quality showed in the closing stages.

Moyes, legitimately, pointed out the financial disparity between Liverpool, who have spent more than £100m since January, and Everton, without a transfer pot to their name, in the build-up to this derby.

He accepted that fact as the harsh reality of the modern game - what he found harder to take was the injustice he was convinced was inflicted on Everton when Atkinson chose to send off Rodwell.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Not a fan of either side but the ref spoilt a good game with that decision. It didnt even look like a foul in real time nevermind a sending off. I thought that he just made an instant decision, the red card came out too quickly, he should have given himself time & asked his assistant.

    Liverpool huffed & puffed and still dont move the ball around the midfield quickly enough, maybe due to Lucas & Adam's lack pf pace. They also seem to struggle to get the most out of Downing at present.

    3 points is all they could ask for & they delivered although I do wish Saurez would tone done his antics, he likes to hit the deck & play injured a bit too much.

  • Comment number 2.

    Martin atkinson should not be a referee at all, his incompetance and bias has over the past few years spoilt more games than this one

  • Comment number 3.

    It is a bit like Policemen, you have to ask yourself if anyone wanting to do it should be allowed to.

  • Comment number 4.

    Charlie Adam was guilty of some bad challenges as well but Atkinson didn't even book him.

    Players get dropped after woeful performances, managers get the sack. Referees just carry on as normal. Atkinson's performance was the worst 90 minute refereeing performance I've seen in over 27 years as a football fan. If Rodwell's challenge was a foul, then football is dead.

    As for Suarez, my 11 month old niece stays on her feet for longer than he does. Decent player but needs to cut down on his cheating.

  • Comment number 5.

    The sending off of Rodwell was a truly awful decision.

    If you can't make a challenge like that, you might as well tell everyone that any tackle where you go to the floor is a bookable offence.

    We're seemingly on the road to football being a non-contact sport and if that's where we're going, it's not a sport I'll be watching.

    I think that Atkinson is the one who deserves a 3 game suspension.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ref had a shocker. You can't have a game without a ref but he needs to go away and learn the trade before being let back to officiate again.

    I agree that Suarez needs to stop the antics. He is a great striker whose star will dim if he doesn't stop the acting.

  • Comment number 7.

    i posted a comment on facebook when it happened at how bad it was and described what was going to happen. Everton would hang on then tire late on, i.e. exactly what happened. When referees influence results this much there has to be some form of action. I would remove Martin Atkinson from next weeks games, a bit like the punishment Rodwell faces. I know it's a hard job and I wouldn't do it either, but you have to draw the line somewhere.
    I actually don't think he's that bad a referee normally he just had a stinker yesterday.

  • Comment number 8.

    Also, if we had these rules and referees in the 70's no game would ever have finished. Harris, Hunter, Stiles, Bremner etc. would not have lasted 5 minutes.

    The comments about Suarez are also true. Video evidence after the games should be used against players who spend too much time on the floor and bans given out for those cheating.

  • Comment number 9.

    We had an unjust sending off against Everton at Anfield in 2010 in the 33rd minute, we still went on to win though, so no excuses please Bluenoses.

  • Comment number 10.

    Quite simply this wouldn't have happened if a Liverpool player had committed an identical tackle on an Everton player. This gross discrimination by referees in favour of the "big" clubs must stop as must the diving of the likes of Suarez. England prides itself on being a fair country but this quite clearly doesn't apply to premiership football where those with the biggest voice get all the benefits. Shame on the FA, premiership and all its officials for not applying it's rules in a fair and equal manner.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Liverpool were able to introduce Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy for the disappointing Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam."

    Do you not think these are poor examples, Phil? Seeing as Bellamy and Gerrard actually cost nothing in transfer fees, and Bellamy took a huge paycut to come to Liverpool because he was a boyhood Red, and wants to work under Dalglish.

  • Comment number 14.

    Thought the red was very harsh, a yellow could have been justified based on studs showing and a possible lack of control in the tackle. Overall the ref got very little right with a couple of Everton players avoiding red after much worse tackles.
    Unfortunately Everton's game plan seamed to involve kicking as many Liverpool players as possible.

    I am a little amazed however that all the talk is of the ref, no mention within the article of the disgraceful behaviour of the Everton fans, throwing bottles and coins. They really let themselves down yesterday.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    The ref gets an instant to decide and he went in favour of Suarez' theatrics which had the desired result of getting an opponent sent off.
    Loved Calamity Ken's post-match interview. Wonder what part of his team's performance he was so impressed with. Was it the half dozen "up and unders" they hoofed in the first half hour?

  • Comment number 17.

    I wonder if this will stop the red half of Liverpool moaning about ref's week in week out, afterall I thought it was only Manchester United who got things in their favour ?

    No, thought not.

  • Comment number 18.

    Nice to see Dalglish being so gracious in his post-match interview though.

  • Comment number 19.

    Got to feel for Everton. Even with 10 men they were on top of Liverpool for stretches of the game. For all their millions, Liverpool still look pretty ordinary. Can't wait to see United hammer this overpaid lot at Anfield.

  • Comment number 20.

    At 09:16 2nd Oct 2011, dogeared wrote:

    Let's do an expirement shall we?

    Get a full grown man to run as fast as he can then jump through the air feet first at your ankle.

    How do you think this will feel? Will it hurt? Do you think you would complain?


    Depends. If he's won the ball, folded his legs away and brushed my ankle with his knee, I might feel like getting up and getting on with the game.

    Each to their own I guess.

  • Comment number 21.

    Quite simply, Martin Atkinson should be officiating a match between ''The Dog and Duck'' and ''the Red Lion'' on a Sunday morning. No wonder the EPL is so poor when even their referees are pub standard.

    Rodwell's sending-off was a complete joke of a decision.

  • Comment number 22.

    @12 - you could do that experiment if you wanted to, but it would have nothing to do with the Rodwell tackle yesterday. try to see beyond your obvious bias to the fact that it was not a foul, and that Suarez wildly over-dramatized the "injury" he sustained in an effort to get a player into trouble. something he has a lot of previous form for.

  • Comment number 23.

    12. Dogeared, what is your point? Have you seen the tackle? Rodwell took the ball, not his ankle! Suarez is a diver, he's demonstrated this several times in his short spell in England so far. Atkinson was a awful. The point here is the ref ruined the game for both Reds and Blues. I don't believe any true Liverpool fans will be happy with a win like this.
    The plastic Norwegian and southern England 'Reds' will of course post comments like dogeared!

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Also pivotal to the outcome was the respective strength of the squad. With Everton inevitably tiring, Liverpool were able to introduce Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy for the disappointing Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam.

    These are riches beyond the reach of Moyes on his budget and that extra quality showed in the closing stages."

    What riches? Gerrard home grown and Bellamy free transfer.

  • Comment number 26.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 27.

    First up I'll make my thoughts clear it was not a sending off but the lack of knowledge of the rules of football by many people, including sadly Phil and nearly all players and managers is incredible. Time and time again we hear the phrase 'he won the ball' in reference to sendings off and fouls given. The rules make it quite clear that if the referee considers the tackle to be dangerous or uncontrolled in its nature that the playing of the ball or otherwise is irrelevant and a foul may be given and appropriate cards shown for the challenge. In this case Rodwell did rather lunge at the ball and did hit Suarez with his follow through, however his studs were not showing and the tackle was not because of that dangerous. Therefore under the laws of the game as they stand today it was a foul but should not have carried the censure of a card in my opinion.

    Also I wonder what game posters have been watching for the last 10 years. The reaction of Suarez was exactly the same as 90%+ of players in the Premier League would have been. It may not be right but it seems a little unfair to pick on 1 player for it.

  • Comment number 28.

    "What riches? Gerrard home grown and Bellamy free transfer."

    And playing for free too, what a pair!

  • Comment number 29.

    at 24
    How can you call Dalglish classless for not wanting the watch the red card incident when you made the decision not to watch the rest of the match after the red?.

  • Comment number 30.

    If people watch this Rodwell actually goes over Suarez' ankle with his knee unintentionally, Suarez' natural reaction was to go jump out of the tackle and go on the floor so that his ankle doesn't get damaged by what he thinks is a studs up tackle on his ankle, its what 99% of footballers would do in the same situation, just like one of the Neverton players did when Charlie Adam tackled him.

  • Comment number 31.

    Embarrassing display by Atkinson, Everton FC never seem to have any luck with officials in these games. And Suarez rolling around the floor like that is insulting to the game, Charlie Adam however, is a credit for his reaction to the much worse Cahill foul.

    Referee's need help, it's that simple. But there needs to be certain implementations which wont hinder the traditions of the match, but modernises the levels of officiating. I read this; [ ] - It seemed to have some of the best solutions. Phil, what do you think is the most feasible options? Guys?

  • Comment number 32.

    For the record, I don't think it was a red card, but there is no doubt Suarez was clattered.

    The tackle is what is commonly referred to as a 'reducer' - in other words get the ball and get the man too in order to injure him and reduce his capabilities.

    These kind of tackles carried on for the rest of the match - so Everton deserved the spanking they got.

  • Comment number 33.

    @30, jumping out of the way is one thing. rolling around on the floor holding your ankle and screaming in fake pain is another. As is Lucas & Adam charging over to the ref to ask for a card. Didn't see any Everton players doing that. This is indefensable, so stop trying to defend it!

  • Comment number 34.

    Terrible decision to send Rodwell off however you dress it up.

    But the game was still there to be won - as Liverpool have done twice in recent years in derbys despite dodgy early red cards (Soto a couple of years ago and Gerrard in 2006).

    Liverpool get the win. Everton get the excuse.

    Everyone happy.

  • Comment number 35.

    Wonder how much match/bet fixing goes on in the EPL!

  • Comment number 36.

    Before Liverpool signed Suarez, I posted here what an actor he is. People in Holland (players, managers and fans alike) were heartily sick of his antics for Ajax, which won them more than their fair share of penalties and free kicks and were not too sorry to see the back of him. Good skills undoubtedly but he really must look at a few Lionel Messi videos to learn how to behave when confronted with determined defenders. In the modern game, there's no room any more for the Latin drama queens who almost ruined Spanish and Italian football in the 70's and 80's let them let their skills do the talking.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.


    He's been whinging about refereeing decisions all season, and then one goes in his favour, far bigger than any that's gone against him, and he just chooses to ignore the issue. Clearly exposes that his issue was with his own team's interests, rather than the integrity of the game as a whole.

    Also, it lacks a certain amount of grace to utterly fail to acknowledge that something like that has had a huge impact on Liverpool winning the game. Everton looked the better side before Rodwell walked, and Atkinson gift-wrapped the 3 points with his decision. And all Kenny can talk about is how Liverpool were 'excellent'.

    Jesus, even Fergie admits to getting 'lucky' when Utd have decisions go in their favour.

    I'm sure Dalglish isn't a classless individual, but I'm sure you'll agree he could conduct his post-match interviews with a little more even-handedness and dignity.

  • Comment number 39.

    Dogeared are you joking? I couldn't care less who won or lost and have no feelings for one team Over the other but it wasn't even a foul never mind a red/yellow or "reducer" as u say! If that was worthy of anything other than play on then football has hit a new low

  • Comment number 40.

    Well, Keny, isn't it terrible how refereeing decisions are hampering your team (sic).

    Or perhaps they don't count if you don't see them.

    I switched off the TV at that point. Absolute rubbish refereeing from a rubbish referee.

  • Comment number 41.

    OLDBLUEGITTELFORD...The beautiful English game has been ruined by the introduction of big business to the game who don`t care a jot about the game + the continental incidious play acting introduced into the game by the foriegn carpet baggers.Suarez was not hurt in anyway but writhed around like he had been hit by a no 19 bus.Hobbled away to Walton hospital we thought & five minutes later was running like a gazelle!He surely ought to be nominated for best actor Oscar with Atkinson for best supporting role.Technology would not even help this guy.!!

  • Comment number 42.

    As a toffee I was disgusted with Rodwell's sending off. It's hard enough for clubs like Everton to compete with richer clubs without getting the short end of the stick repeatedly in big games like this.

    However, something which is not spoken about often enough has been hinted at above: the job of referee is now impossible and one that almost all of us wouldn't/couldn't do ourselves.
    Aside from the fact that the game is now so fast that it is far more difficult than ever before to keep up with it and control it properly, as football fans we need to ask ourselves why our referees are so much worse than those in other sports. Why can a rugby referee keep up with their increasingly quick game and keep control when football referees can't?
    The answer is simple but not too easy to accept: Footballers cheat far more than any other sportsmen!
    Cheating has become such a part of the game that we hardly recognise it when we see it these days. EVERY footballer cheats routinely and EVERY manager accepts/encourage this behaviour. From theatrically diving forwards to shirt pulling defenders ALL footballers cheat in every conceivable way. Worse than that though is that EVERY footballer and EVERY manager then argues with/berates/swears at/criticises the referee when they are caught cheating.

    Would Rodwell have been sent off if referees knew that players only go down when they are actually hurt? Would Atkinson have been able to distinguish between an unfortunate collision and a reckless foul if the latter were few and far between? The behaviour of players these days is truly shameful and they are far more culpable in the falling standards of refereeing than the referees themselves.

    The simple truth is that, with the increasing speed of the game and frequency of cheating, referees will never be able to control football matches and video technology or banning referees will not solve this problem. Until every player and every manager takes responsibility, and accepts that every mistake made by a referee is a direct result of the way they play the game, we will never solve this problem.

  • Comment number 43.

    At 09:43 2nd Oct 2011, dogeared wrote:

    For the record, I don't think it was a red card, but there is no doubt Suarez was clattered.

    The tackle is what is commonly referred to as a 'reducer' - in other words get the ball and get the man too in order to injure him and reduce his capabilities.

    These kind of tackles carried on for the rest of the match - so Everton deserved the spanking they got.


    By clattered do you mean brushed?

    By 'reducer' to intentionally injure a player, do you mean a 50/50 where Rodwell cleanly won the ball, turned his studs away from the player to make sure he didn't catch him?

    I don't think you did, of all the comments I've heard you're the only one to still be looking at the tackle with a bias.

  • Comment number 44.

    33, Its not indefensible at all. What's indefensible is fans throwing bottles at Liverpool players for 90 minutes while their team of sunday league cloggers is trying to take out the Liverpool players on the pitch and deliberately injure them. You can't be looking at the Hibbert tackle on Adam and the Cahill tackle on him and say they weren't trying to take him out. They were both deliberately late and studs up.

    Suarez was well within his right to roll around on the floor after Rodwell had lunged into a tackle, once you throw yourself to a tackle then you're leaving yourself open to be booked or sent off. Maybe the most advisable thing for Rodwell would be to not throw himself into tackles so recklessly, and use his brain.

  • Comment number 45.

    poor decision by the ref to issue the red. gutted everton got reduced to 10 men. liverpool would of won the game regardless so it just offers everton fans an excuse as to why they lost.
    had the ref been less than 2 yards away he may of seen the tackle on adam and issued another red btw.
    a professional performance by liverpool yesterday, impressed with how they didnt get involved with everton in loosing their rag. never gave the ref the chance to even up the game.

  • Comment number 46.


    I would agree that his post match interviews can be unnecessary abrasive, the Andy Carroll part in particular was an great example, but in fairness he did say that 11 v 11 the game was even. Something I would agree with.
    Also if the Ref gift wrapped the points they he must have done the same thing for Everton when twice over the last few years he sent Liverpool players off. Liverpool still won those matches.

  • Comment number 47.

    Good tackle, Rodwell cleanly took the ball and left himself on the ground likely to get hit by Suarez rather than takes Suarez out. Of course Suarez then typically reacts like he has been shot. As already noted, people in Holland (where I live) were sick of Suarez, especially after his 7 match ban for biting an opponent.

    Never mind video referees, what about common sense (and some decency from Atkinson) and rescinding the red card? If he does not he just leaves himself looking like a fool.

  • Comment number 48.

    I played footy for 20 years - not to any standard, admittedly - and would have been ashamed to have resorted to the kind of theatrics and play-acting that I see week-in and week-out in the 'modern' professional game.
    Football is still a contact sport, though it seems that nowadays 'contact' is justification enough to many players to mimic the actions of somebody hit by a bullet from a sniper's rifle.
    I'm slowly but shurely falling out of love with football. It's got to the point where I just can't be doing with the on-field cheating; the myopic managers who also suffer from selective memory, recalling only when his club are sinned against, and never when they themselves sinned; the wheeling and dealing of the suits at the very top of football; the general over-arching lack of respect ... the list just goes on.

    One day, perhaps the sport will implode, and in the aftermath those still involved might just realise where it all went wrong and make the changes necessary to put it right ... but I'm not holding my breath.

  • Comment number 49.

    Let's not pretend it was a perfectly clean tackle, it wasn't. Rodwell's follow through did take his shin (not his knee or his foot) into Suarez's standing leg, which generally is quite painful.

    That's not to say it should have been a red card. I don't think it was that aggressive or that out of control. But perfect tackle? No.

  • Comment number 50.

    #27 hit the nail on the head. Getting the ball in irrelevant.

    The challenge of Rodwell was the type that all the non-league Sat/Sun plyers make, but we are talking Premier league and you cannot jump into a challenge.

    I do not agree with the sending off but I can see why Atkinson gave a red. Rodwell jumped in and made a stamping action towards the ball.

  • Comment number 51.

    No sympathy for Everton. They didn't have quality so they chose thuggery as usual, hence the red card history favouring them. So if the sending-off took place for the vicious tackle on Adams instead of on Suarez, it would have been good refereeing making all the purists happy here, yet Everton would still be a man down. In hindsight, the results was just and a deserved win for the Kop.

  • Comment number 52.

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  • Comment number 53.

    I was disappointed "King" Kenny said he didn't see the challenge or will be watching it back. Essentially he knows they got away with the decision and is pleased his player cheated to gain an advantage. It was bad enough when Ronaldo was diving (Liverpool fans complained quite a bit then)- why do such great players feel the need to do it? Moyes has principles and his players dont roll around demanding red cards - but maybe we should if we are going to succeed. If we do, I won't be renewing my season ticket.

  • Comment number 54.

    The sending off was clearly completely wrong. I think we can all agree with that. I'm a Norwich fan so I know how it feels to have some decision go against you what with our terrible run of penalties.

    There is always talk of 'respect the ref' but this needs to be a 2 way street. Refs need to earn some of the respect by getting decisions right or admitting when they are wrong. And a little help wouldn't go amiss! *cough* Video technology! *cough*

    I'd also agree that post-match reviews of players going down and rolling around when nothing has happened to them, and subsequent punishment being given out would be a way of cutting down on the play acting a deceiving that has become far too common in modern football.

    For me the people that need to be sorting these sort of things out are FIFA. Unfortunately they are run so poorly by Blatter that all they know how to do is cover there own backs and that allows the game to continue to deteriorate into cheating, diving and poor decisions by Refs. Why are they so determined to prevent innovation and modernisation in the game!? All it has done is make them a joke to most fans . They are the reason that football in the modern day is going down hill!

  • Comment number 55.

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  • Comment number 56.


    Haha. I knew there'd be some here trying to defend Atkinson or suggest that there was something wrong with Rodwell's challenge.

    What an absolute load of tripe. Are you really so partisan that you cannot admit that this was a fair, clean challenge and an appalling decision?

    Let's imagine this was - say - Adam on Saha, with the same outcome. Would you still be finding excuses for it?

    Of course not.

  • Comment number 57.

    At 09:09 2nd Oct 2011, PepeIsBetterThanIker_Save606FromTheTories wrote:
    We had an unjust sending off against Everton at Anfield in 2010 in the 33rd minute, we still went on to win though, so no excuses please Bluenoses.
    Ah yes. You're right. That 2-footed over the ball tackle that put the other player out of the game for 6 months. How could we forget?

  • Comment number 58.

    Didn't think it was a red but it was a stupid lunge in by rodwell with his leading foot knee high as i'm sure both managers would have told their players to be carefull going into tackles with atkinson as ref. That said thought cahill and hibbert both on adam were red cards.
    Classy response from minority of blues throwing bottles and coins at players though.

  • Comment number 59.


    'knee high'?!

    You're just making stuff up now!

  • Comment number 60.

    it is a international break so for the one asking about next week it is only league 1 & 2 in action and that was not a red in my book either.

  • Comment number 61.

    Very predictable "poor old Everton" story.

    What the so called experts failed to acknowledge was the lets say robust approach of Everton, they did the same at City the week before, steaming in with flying ankle high challenges, sometimes they get a smidgin of the ball but more often than not an opponent finishes up on the floor clutchig a leg.

    Ok Rodwell was a bit unlucky but both Hibbit amd Felani should have walked for "worse" challenges hence it was only a matter of time before Everton were reduced to ten men.

    Atkinson is a good ref and doesnt deserve this witch hunt.

  • Comment number 62.

    This should spark a debate about the laws of the game, and how officials (both the lawmakers and match officials) are removing the art of the tackle. This isn't a post about the 'good old days' as I'm only 21, but as Phil Neville has pointed out Rodwell's tackle would not have even been a foul 3 years ago. I didn't watch the match bar on MOTD but as many have said Rodwell was unlucky, and the inconsistency in refeering performances is beginning to get incredibly infuriating.

    I'd also like to know why a two footed tackle is automatically a red card? What should be more important is the intent of a tackle, and whether studs are showing rather than how many feet are being used. For example, Tony Hibbert's tackle yesterday was far worse than say Michael Essien on Clint Dempsey last winter. Having said that, I can probably answer my own question; two footed tackles are on the whole more dangerous so from a legislating point of view I can't see how the laws on that could be any different.

  • Comment number 63.

    Ref clearly ruined the game as it was pretty even up until then.
    It will not be long before Ref's see through Suarez and his antics, he's always screaming as he goes down and his pal Lucas is always waving the imaginary card at refs.
    Everton will struggle again for top 10, and as for Liverpool Queen Kenny has done his job with making his feelings known about refs decisions but to be honest the scousers will NOT get into top 4....clearly not good enough

  • Comment number 64.

    "Ah yes. You're right. That 2-footed over the ball tackle that put the other player out of the game for 6 months. How could we forget?"

    Fellaini stamped on Kyrgiakos in that tackle. He did the same against Lucas yesterday. He also kicked Kuyt in the face.

  • Comment number 65.

    Great challenge from Rodwell.

    Played the ball, slightly grazed Suarez with the knee of his non-tackling foot, and studs were not showing at any point. His toe kicked the ball, and his foot immediately landed, sole downwards.

    The definition of a perfect tackle.

    The referee was completely deceived by Suarez's play acting, holding an ankle which didn't even get touched, and Lucas playing along, trying to get a legal tackle punished.

    There is no defence of Suarez here. People arguing "you gave Suarez an excuse to cheat by trying and succeeding to tackle him", "you tackled him , therefore he is within his rights as a football player to behave with contempt of fellow professionals."

    If you think otherwise, you're wrong. Even Souness said he thought it was a perfectly good tackle. It's not even a case of opinion. Either you think Rodwell didn't deserve a red card, in which case you are factually correct, or you think otherwise, and you're deluded.

  • Comment number 66.

    Moments like this can impact negatively upon the development of impressive young talents like Rodwell and Martin Atkinson was entirely wrong in sending off the youngster.

    In truth the challenge should maybe have warranted a free kick as Rodwell was nothing if not naive to lead with the studs.

    In the modern game there is a huge amount of protection when it comes to tackles that are deemed dangerous and by the letter of the law he should not have led with the studs, however, this challenge should have been viewed more circumstantially as he kept his tackle low to the ground and beat Suarez to the ball comfortably....

  • Comment number 67.


    Best post yet.

  • Comment number 68.

    My views on the tackle are that it was a fine robust tackle. If you get the ball first like rodwell did and then come together afterwards its just one of those things. I don't think its something you can get on at the tackled player for going down under though and I very much doubt Suarez was looking for a red card to be shown, maybe he was thinking foul but I doubt anyone else in the stadium was thinking card for that. Anyone trying to defend the red card should go get a job as a criminal defence lawyer.

    Tackle aside I am getting abit sick of Everton at the moment. Are they going to whine about the financial difference with every other club in the league. Swansea spent 5mill on danny graham so after spending those millions in the summer what chance do everton have against that financial power. Im also getting sick of the fans attitude that they are somehow better than others because of the club they support. They call themselves a family club, well I think their fans showed their true colours today throwing all that stuff at the liverpool players.

  • Comment number 69.

    Compare Kenny's post match interview, i.e. "I didn't see it, I won't be watching it again" etc. to Alan Pardew's response to the Wolves game yesterday, who was actually honest and thought Newcastle were lucky as he thought two decisions went in their favour. Class.

    Thought Everton controlled the second half until Caroll's goal, and 2-0 was flattering

  • Comment number 70.

    As with some others writing above, I'm very disappointed in Dalglish's post-match reaction. His handling of the video interview done for the BBC is very shabby. He must realize that the red-card was the game's defining moment; his aggrieved response to the question was ludicrous.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    As an almost neutral (I have a natural aversion to red) I was hoping for a good game and a fiery derby match between two old rivals, pretty much like I am today. I'm very disappointed with what I saw and have a number of points.

    1) When will someone have the minerals to ask whether Atkinson and his ilk are either incompetent or just plain corrupt? (Is it possible to be that innocently ignorant?)

    2) What had the potential to be a good game was ruined by a fool, but the world and its mother knows he will escape serious censure. If Moyes had told it like it is, he'd be facing the loss of another few grand in fines. If an official drops such a major ricket he should forfeit his match fee, then we might see a more even playing field.

    3) When will players like Suarez learn to take it as well as dish out the rough/stuff? He loves to roll around and, well let's call it like it is, cheat, but he's not averse to sticking the odd dig into an opponent. If you dish it out, take it back like a man.

    4) David Moyes head clearly dropped, at one point he couldn't even watch. No matter how upset/angry he was he should have showed more spirit. If the players see the look of resignation, it could, and maybe did spread to them. Chin up fella, if you think the decisions suck, try being the Spurs manager at Old Trafford.

  • Comment number 73.

    71.At 10:31 2nd Oct 2011, observ1 wrote:
    Would it not make sense for the referee to have to consult with there nearest linesman for all sending off decisions. The assistant may not be able to assist in all cases but it will allow the referee to make more considered decisions and avoid snap decisions that, as in this case, were clearly wrong.
    The antics of the player unfortunately always seem to influence referees .... why is it that the referee only draws from Match of the Day to influence future decisions in relation to players like Barton and not for those like Suarez or Silva where the default assumption should be they are cheating !


    Silva a cheat? you better explain that one.

  • Comment number 74.

    I think Atkinson just enjoy destorying good games for no cause, maybe he just a sadist to the game.

  • Comment number 75.

    Maybe Moyes should tell his player "dont dive in with reckless tackles, that way we may keep eleven players on the pitch and may even win".

  • Comment number 76.

    We have been dealing with cheating players for a while now (Ronaldo mainly, and not because he was a Manchester Utd Player), so dont think the incident was all about Suarez and the diving swans. Everyone and anyone has seem the incident for the first time say straight away that it was not a red, not even a yellow. Ref had a bad day (Not the first time) and should be banned. Rodwell should be let off with any punishments.

  • Comment number 77.

    PMSL @ the Liverpool fans trying to justify things

    You won the derby 3 years ago thanks to Clatunberg, you won yesterday thanks to Atkinson, last year where the Ref didn't help you out, you lost 2-0

    Looking forward to seeing you beating the "bitters" without cheating for once

  • Comment number 78.

    At 10:41 2nd Oct 2011, jam tomorrow wrote:

    Maybe Moyes should tell his player "dont dive in with reckless tackles, that way we may keep eleven players on the pitch and may even win".


    Hmm.. except it wasn't reckless was it?

  • Comment number 79.

    As a neutral, this game was absolutely fantastic and a joy to watch - it had drama, attacking flair from both sides and valiant, never-say-die attitudes aplenty. Rodwell's tackle seemed harmless to me at first, but after watching the replay all I could think was "tackles like that break legs". Rodwell went for the ball and got it but failed to control his follow-through, a studs-up affair that reminded me of the time Djibril Cisse femur went through his skin in that France game a few years ago. I think it was an excellent refereeing decision - it looked like a good tackle at first, but Atkinson had a good view and rightfully punished Rodwell for his recklessness. I did think it was a miracle that Cahill's tackle on Adam did not result in a sending-off; Adam should have been shown a yellow for his poor follow-through. Hibbert made an appalling tackle as did Fellaini.

    This game did a bit to expose the passions of the teams - Adam comforting his opposite Rodwell after the latter's sending off (he was saying "Just go, just go" - he probably knows better than anyone else on that pitch the correct etiquette for sending offs) to the Everton fans chucking coins at Bellamy and Suarez. Rodwell didn't make a fuss after his sending off, which makes a pleasant change.

    A very enjoyable game.

  • Comment number 80.

    kanchelskis_legend - Sending off = No. Free kick and yellow depending on refs view (studs up etc).

    Ref sent off Rodwell when he shouldnt have but didnt even give a foul when Hibbert took our Adam which imo was a red so its give and take.

    Also, 'Far bigger than has gone against them'???? Really?

    Richardson should have been sent off against sunderland, two handballs against Stoke that should have been given and imo at least Adams first yellow against Spurs was incredibly harsh (second was one and i have no probs with skrtels red and yes spurs outplayed us!).

    This is what people mean by things even themselves up over the season.

    Refs have been awful this season tho! Bring back Graham Poll ;)

  • Comment number 81.

    If unfair dismissal was a crime, Martin Atkinson would be in for life. Right in front of his eyes, utterly no excuses: he found a kid and decided to show his power.

    Similarly, in the Wolves match, the official couldn't remember that where a player falls and where the foul occurs are two spots with a distance of at least a metre. In the same much, a referee's assistant canceled a goal because, besides not being in the right position, he had a computer in his mind that gave him the wrong decision on whether the ball went out of the pitch line before the goal.

    Conclusion: 2 matches out of 6(?), 30% of results were affected by appalling decisions by incompeted officials in the most famous league in the world. Great work.

    Having said that, Liverpool could always improve in the second half, with Gerrard and Bellamy coming on but we'll never know how the match would develop against 11 Everton men playing well up to the point of the dismissal.

    Andy Carrol took his goal brilliantly, while he was dangerous at other moments too. Not bad for a 22 year old. Suares showed his predatory instincts, while Enrique on the left was very good, as was Baines in the same position for Everton.

    I feel sorry for Moyes. I understand they feel robbed at the Everton camp

  • Comment number 82.

    Dalglish proved yet again what sort of a man he is, after gobbing off about the decisions given rightly against Liverpool in the previous games, this odious little man conveniently didn't see the ridiculous sending off by the useless Atkinson. All teams get these decisions sometimes but unlike Pardew who came out and immediately admitted how lucky Newcastle were against Wolves, Dalglish wanted to ignore the only reason Liverpool won.

    After annihilating Liverpool, as a Spurs supporter I am totally convinced Liverpool will not be our challengers for fourth, in fact I predict sixth for Liverpool then Dalglish to be sacked when the Liverpool board realize that the only thing Dalglish has won as a manager was from inherited teams.

  • Comment number 83.

    77.At 10:44 2nd Oct 2011, Official_Agent wrote:
    PMSL @ the Liverpool fans trying to justify things

    You won the derby 3 years ago thanks to Clatunberg, you won yesterday thanks to Atkinson, last year where the Ref didn't help you out, you lost 2-0

    Looking forward to seeing you beating the "bitters" without cheating for once


    PMSL at your bias. We outplayed you two years ago at your place. Last season Atkinson should have sent off Pienaar for a terrible leg breaking challenge and didnt!

    Hibbert should have been sent off instead of Rodwell - In otherwords you should have been down to 10 anyway.

  • Comment number 84.

    @Petrosian, are you having a laugh?!? Have another look!

    Clean win of the ball, a SLIGHT touch to Suarez's leg who was no where near the ball when Rodwell made contact. The challenge was under control and Rodwell knew what he was doing. How you can say it was reckless is beyond me. Clearly you were watching another game!

  • Comment number 85.

    84.At 10:48 2nd Oct 2011, Colky wrote -

    What was your view on Hibberts challenge on Adam then??

  • Comment number 86.

    Typical media - looking for the headline moment rather than at the whole game.
    Firstly the lead up and game as a whole - Moyes played his usual tactic of trying to soften the referee up with his appeal for the officials to let the game flow and realise tackles in Derby games should have the rules applied more leniently because it is a Derby game - what he actually means is that Everton's only chance of beating Liverpool it to be allowed to make late tackles and persistently barge into the player just after he passes the ball to kill the pass and move game - the penalty was an example of a typical Everton reckless challenge many of which went unpunished.
    The sending off - previous to the crucial challenge Rodwell have been guilty of two malicious challenges that went unpunished but maybe not unnoticed by the referee - trying to keep the game flowing I supposed as requested by Moyes.
    The challenge itself - yes Rodwell won the ball but he went in with his studs showing which makes it a reckless challenge - in addition after he touched the ball there was a second movement of Rodwells leg to raise he foot higher and onto Suarez's leg - this was why he was sent off it was a malicious challenge and his third one of the match.
    It was pretty obvious the way Rodwell was diving into challenges that he was an accident waiting happen.
    In fact for much of the game the referee actually acted on Moyes pre-match pleas and let a lot of malicious Everton challenges go - in fact if he had applied the rules properly for the whole of the game then Hibbert would have had a straight red for his nasty challenge on Adams - maybe that is why he didn't play so well - as well as Cahill and Fellaini being deserving of enough yellow cards to have had early baths as well.
    Moyes always plays the innocent but his usual approach to the Derby match got entirely what it deserved.

  • Comment number 87.

    78.At 10:45 2nd Oct 2011, kanchelskis_legend wrote:
    At 10:41 2nd Oct 2011, jam tomorrow wrote:

    Maybe Moyes should tell his player "dont dive in with reckless tackles, that way we may keep eleven players on the pitch and may even win".


    Hmm.. except it wasn't reckless was it?


    In my opinion it was unwise to say the least, I mean steaming in with studs up on the half way line, why? and we have already established Everton could have had at least two more players sent off so it was just a matter of time.

    Hey Waldo hows things, did you get to Spurs v City game?

  • Comment number 88.

    Completly agree that the red card was a joke but you have to see how the two teams have been set-up for the last 20 or so derbies. Everton always come out extra aggressively, pushing, shoving and kicking. Hibbert, Cahill and Coleman could all have been off the pitch for separate incidents. I don't have the stats but you can probably count the number of red cards in the last 20 matches and I am sure beyond the sun, that Everton would have many more cards than Pool.

  • Comment number 89.

    86.At 10:50 2nd Oct 2011, iknowwhatilike wrote:

    Spot on!

  • Comment number 90.

    F1Rookie - More Reds i think - something like 19 reds in the prem in this fixture, 12/13 being Bluenoses

  • Comment number 91.

    I didn't see much of the game. Was streaming and it kept going down so I gave up. I'm only challenging the Rodwell incident which was never a red card. Not even a foul. Hibbert may have been a red card but unfortunately I haven't seen it so can't comment on it.

  • Comment number 92.

    Mr McNulty's conclusions are, as usual, a bit clouded and logic somewhat fuzzy.
    To claim that a referee should have his name dragged through the mud, be pilloried and "have to face the consequences" of his actions because he choses to ref football matches is a very tabloid journo view of the world, not what we expect from the Beeb.

    Fair enough, the tackle was pretty innocuous, that said, Rodwell goes sliding in and as it's from the front the ref is always going take a dim view of that sort of challenge.

    Instead of ratcheting up the media pressure on the ref (who's job McNulty doesn't want anyway, as it's far easier to throw stones than to defend yourself against them) it would make far more sense to start the debate on whether the referees get sufficient training.

    It seems to me that ref's from all over the world have a better general standard the PL ref's. It seems, however, that Mr McNulty would rather join in with the rest and single out individuals for a good old media pasting, well done!

  • Comment number 93.

    There have been several refereeing mistakes over the past few years when the referee is in a straight line with players and the ball and he gets little perspective of the incident.From the side you can easily see Rodwell went in hard but not unfairly whereas in a straight line you could interpret the incident in many ways,as Atkinson did. The assistant ought to be able to help and give advice.However assistants rarely change the decision made. In the Rugby League match yesterday there was a great example of a refereeing mistake being corrected. Will it ever come to Soccer?

  • Comment number 94.

    DEFINITELY should impose video tech for football. Of the whole match.

    But not for catching dodgy ref decisions midgame. Rather, to hand out retribution to cheaters, liars AFTER the match.

    With so much high profile cheating, allowed and condoned by the authorities refusal to deal with it, the referees will never be able to avoid mistakes like this.

    The problem has to be tacked at the root. Cheating has to be made to stop. The culture has to be changed. Lying prostrate, screaming as if you're really hurt, only to get up and carry on as if nothing happened and the video only showing slight contact? One month suspension.

    Pretending to have been hit in the face when it was clearly no where near? 6 months out.

    Claiming no goal when you're the goal keeper and can see the ball crossed the line, and even admitting it on telly afterwards? Millions and millions of pounds change hands on such details, and the fate of clubs and tournaments can be sealed by it. 1 year ban. The stakes MORE than justify it.

    The same punishments that every other sport hands out to people who CHEAT.

    The sport needs to put the onus on PLAYERS to behave, not relieve them of all moral responsibility with lines like "No worries, you're not the ref...".

    You might not be the ref, but theres no excuse for being a high profile highly paid CHEAT.

  • Comment number 95.

    Players certainly need strong discouragement from assaults that cause injury to other players but ruining the game for the thousands there and the millions watching on sky is not the answer. There can't be one fan reading this blog who hasn't seen one of their players dismissed and has felt that what they spent on a ticket was now wasted. It doesn't matter if the player was guilty and stupid or not - the entertainment you have paid for is over.

    I would still have sendings off but 10 minutes later the team he played for can use one of their substitutes to replace him. You then have ten excing minutes - backs to the wall and the team are disadvantaged by losing a tactical substitution but the entertainment is not ruined.

    If you then want to discourage players, do it off the pitch with longer bans or fines that actually hurt.

  • Comment number 96.

    If that Rodwell tackle was a foul then we might as well pack up the game of football and go home.

    Terrible decision from the ref, and disgraceful play-acting from Suarez. If that's the kind of person young Liverpool fans are going to grow up wanting to emulate, I feel sorry for the game of football. Suarez for the last few games has been a whinging moany little runt when things don't go his way, and it seems that that is the type of person he is. I certainly wouldn't want my kids having him as a hero.

    The sending-off ruined what was shaping up to be a cracking game of football - both sides committed without being over the top, Everton actually making ground against their more illustrious rivals, and the fans really getting behind their teams. Shame that one ref can't even be consistent with his own decisions - Hibbert could have gone for a later foul that wasn't even given!

    Rodwell can and most definitely should appeal his sending-off, that tackle was one of the best tackles I've seen in the game recently. One foot, no studs, controlled yet firm, and brushed Suarez rather than clattering him. Rodwell had even stopped by the time his knee touched Suarez's ankle! That is not at all the definition of a reckless challenge.

    I can't wait to hear that either Atkinson has rescinded the red card for being wrong, or that the FA decide not to place a suspension on Rodwell.

  • Comment number 97.

    kanchelskis_legend wrote:

    "He's been whinging about refereeing decisions all season, and then one goes in his favour, far bigger than any that's gone against him, and he just chooses to ignore the issue".

    How was it 'far bigger' than the non-sending off of Richardson on the opening day? Or any one of the three penalties denied us against Stoke?

    "Clearly exposes that his issue was with his own team's interests, rather than the integrity of the game as a whole".

    Of course it was - he never tried to claim anything different. It isn't his job to look after 'the integrity of the game as a whole' It is his job to look after the interests of Liverpool Football Club.

    "Also, it lacks a certain amount of grace to utterly fail to acknowledge that something like that has had a huge impact on Liverpool winning the game. Everton looked the better side before Rodwell walked, and Atkinson gift-wrapped the 3 points with his decision. And all Kenny can talk about is how Liverpool were 'excellent'."

    Except he did acknowledge it, didn't he? He said it was an even game before then. So basically - you're a liar. As for 'gift-wrapping the 3 points'...there was still a game there to be won, even with 10 men. We've done it twice in derbies in recent years after dodgy early red cards.

    "Jesus, even Fergie admits to getting 'lucky' when Utd have decisions go in their favour."

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Find me some examples of that, please.

  • Comment number 98.

    Agree with 86. Everton's approach to the game was sickening and is a complete turn off to watching football.

    The reason Suarez goes down easily and play acts is a counter to the brain dead players that are trying to tear a new a**hole into him.

    I'm glad that Everton lost as it may serve as a deterrent to other teams to play so negatively.

  • Comment number 99.

    If Rodwells challenge was a red card the the game at White Hart Lane would have been over after fifteen minutes because Liverpool would have been down to eight men.

    Jam tomorrow, the City game went badly for us because we had ten first team players missing, we only had eight missing when we outclassed and embarrassed Liverpool.

  • Comment number 100.


    The reason players go in heavy on Suarez is because he play-acts like a little girl every time a midge farts near him. I'm happy for heavy-handedness to continue until Suarez realises that the best way to stop it is to just get up and carry on. He'd get mre respect from the opposition that way.


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