After the shambles at White Hart Lane, a four point haul, that could easily have been six, in arguably our two biggest games of the season is a very creditable return and praise should go to the lads in the way that they conducted themselves, but the resultant fall out, however, I feel has detracted from the merit in our play on both occasions.
David Moyes, of course, trotted out the same old rhetoric to disguise his team’s shortcomings and was predictably at pains to stress the importance of the sending off, while ignoring the fact that yet again the “competitive” nature of the tactics that he employed was the cause of the problem. If you live by the sword, David, then you die by it, though to say the tackle wasn’t even a foul was stretching even his credibility. In fairness, having had his most skilful player sold from under his nose without his say-so, he is fast running out of options seeing as merely “getting stuck in” is no longer an option any more. The significance that his team, apparently, do not play this way normally and the fact that they only get so hyped up for derby matches, surely needs to become a consideration sooner or later as the red cards continue to mount up. Especially since even before the game, in getting his moans in early, he made a vain attempt to try and gain some latitude from the referee and unsurprisingly, that tactic never worked either.
But whereas the manager at least earns respect for his views, the self righteous wailings from his fans is another matter. Jesus, they are not called the bitter blues for nothing are they? The scramble to defend the challenge left me gobsmacked to say the least. Simply because Luis was clever enough to get out of the way to avoid injury, how come the lad was somehow made out to be the victim here? As a local, all he doing was trying to be the hard man and earn brownie points with the baying hordes by taking out our best player and yes, studs were showing. Thirty years ago that challenge would have been just part and parcel of the game and called “letting the player know you are there.” Unfortunately, the problem for Everton is that we are not in the eighties any more and so the “dogs of war” mentality can’t be adopted because football has moved on and so should they. O.K it turned out there was minimal contact and with hindsight a yellow card would have been sufficient, but that has nothing to do with Rodwell as when he dived in, there was intent to win the ball at all costs, very little restraint and no consideration for his opponent. It is no thanks to him our player got out of the way and avoided potential injury.
The irony is not lost on me that this is another of those sides that still bases its whole strategy around winning free kicks to profit from dead ball situations anywhere on the pitch, so they can just pump the high ball into the box. As predicted by Stevie, we just stood off them, refused to get involved and the victory was pretty straight forward.
Luis Suarez you see is very much the epitome of modern day footballer with movement, intelligence, awareness plus skill in abundance. In short, he is a defenders nightmare and knew too much and was far too cute for a defence that was simply not good enough on the day to handle him. The way he suckered Jagielka into drawing the foul from behind for the penalty spoke volumes of his ability to read a situation so quickly. A further attribute, his work rate, was then rewarded in the way in which he was alive enough to profit from Distin’s mistake for his goal when it looked like he had lost ball.
Needless to say, in the blinkered eyes of most Evertonians, our number seven is now officially a cheat. No surprise there then and in one particular post match article from one of our magnanimous neighbours, Luis has acquired a new Christian name after being described as “the odious” Suarez throughout. The clamour to somehow regain the moral high ground in explaining away yet another derby defeat meant that they see that the ongoing conspiracy by referees against them, now raging for some forty years, continues unabated. Though they needed to airbrush out memories of the hideous challenge by Hibbert – which the referee had no choice but to ignore, because it would have meant reducing Everton to their traditional nine men even before half time on this occasion.
So the toffees lose another derby that they definitely would have won with eleven men. It is difficult to establish which is the most amusing, their arrogance or their hypocrisy.
Moving on quickly then up the East Lancashire road, the outcry regarding the “dive” from Charlie Adam suffered a fatal loss of inertia with the news of incoming friendly fire when “honest” Rio admitted that he did indeed touch our Charlie. Never ones to let the facts get in the way of a good story though, newly crowned mouthpiece Phil Jones had still previously elected to go public with his castigation of our flying Scotsman until someone at MUFC pulled the plug on the article. So the club where one legend “dived” into the crowd to assault a fan, whose most expensive export took horizontal football to another level and whose replacement fell to the floor in tears just to show us his cut leg last year are now lecturing us on diving? Jesus, the stench of hypocrisy really is overpowering up in here in the north isn’t it?
Even they know that there is a distinct difference between letting the referee know you have been fouled and getting a player sent off, but despite the “controversy” Rio was lucky to stay on the park and thankfully we did not see an unseemly presentation of imaginary cards being show by our lads in the aftermath. Conversely though, can you imagine such charity at Old Trafford if the roles had been reversed and Carra had brought down Giggsy?
Yet again, of course, Sir Alex chose to concentrate on the antics of our players rather than dwell on the fact that he got out of jail on the day. Though you have to love him, don’t you? No aimless prattling or excuses here, he knew exactly what he was doing – though if they had got beat you wouldn’t have seen him for dust. The man truly is a genius though and I have the ultimate respect for him and his achievements. Every single word he utters is meaningful and his sneaky comments regarding Luis will be the clever start of a concerted attempt to attract referees attention to what he sees as a definite threat from a player that he would love to have in his side.
A second unlikely attempt to besmirch Luis Suarez took place though as Patrice Evra played the race card and with both sides vehemently defending their player’s actions, this is a worrying turn of events. Evra is an excellent player and arguably the only player in their ranks that was able to compete with our number seven but he seems to court controversy for both club and country on a regular basis. Indeed, early in the game you will recall him brandishing an imaginary card without repercussion and of course this particular player has “previous” here with incidents involving Steve Finnan and the Chelsea ground staff. Now I would hate to think Luis was in any way guilty as charged here and as I say, our club has backed the lad who has protested his innocence and if that is indeed the case, then it should be the Frenchman with the case to answer, which to my mind would also be severely damaging to the game, not least of which, because the initiative against racism seems to have, at last, in the main, educated football fans. I would hope that a simple misinterpretation of words between a Frenchman and a Uruguayan, in the heat of battle, was the cause of this unsavoury episode but suspect this may well rumble on.
Leaving the Evra incident aside, which is much more serious than the banter here, I am not so naïve or biased to see faults in my own team and for example, I was massively disappointed in what looked like an attempted dive by Stuart in the United game but I refuse to accept sour grapes disguised as self righteous rhetoric from the likes of Everton and United without a response.
Satisfying times to be a red.