Liverpool Soapbox: Reds on the up but benefit from ref’s ineptitude


Liverpool fans are fuming at the suggestion that blameless young Spearing had anything other than the Corinthian spirit in mind when he tumbled in the box some distance from where his path and Mensah’s crossed. They’ll take some comfort from Pete Sixsmith‘s even-handed analysis, balancing bitter disappointment at a worrying Sunderland performance with some admiration for the Reds’ progress under Dalglish …

Three things to say about yesterday’s game: Liverpool were the better side, the penalty decision was a disgrace and we are beginning to get a wee bit worried.

First things first, Liverpool deserved their win. They defended well with Skrtl and Agger outstanding and Suarez always looked a danger. His goal was very well taken and he caused problems for our defenders, Mensah in particular. In midfield they looked tight and well organized with Kuyt having his usual solid game. He’s a good player – reliable and sound.

They look like a side on the up, with Dalglish getting them organized and beginning a rebuilding programme that seems to revolve around Suarez, Spearing and, ahem, Carroll. The only thing I enjoyed in the whole afternoon was the crass incompetence of Big Andy. He looked completely out of his depth, surrounded by far better players in black shirts than those he had played with in black and white ones. He had one decent header cleared off the line by Cattermole but other than that, he looked like a latter day Tony Hateley.

The second point revolves around the penalty decision that gave Liverpool the lead. I hope that the assessor gave Messrs Friend and Smallwood a real ear bashing after the game. Here was a case of the officials clearly not working together. Friend was perfectly positioned to give the free kick when Mensah brought Spearing down. Some would argue that it wasn’t even a foul.

However, for Smallwood to then intervene a full 30 seconds later, is absolutely indefensible. My view is that he was influenced by the antics of the Liverpool players who were surrounding Friend demanding a penalty. He then made his decision, despite being 50 yards away from play and with players between him and the ball.

I have no problem with assistant referees giving penalties; we have benefited in the past. What I do object to is such a late call. If he felt it was a penalty, he should have drawn the referee’s attention straight away, not waited until the free kick had been given. Truly abysmal officiating and something which does nothing to assuage the view that some clubs are far better treated than others.

Incidentally, it was good of Jamie Carragher to come out after the game and say that it wasn’t a penalty. That would be the same Jamie Carragher who was demanding that the referee was wrong and that it should be a penalty; the same Jamie Carragher who nearly amputated Nani’s leg at the knee and then apologised for it afterwards. He’s a prime contender for the Hypocrite of the Year Award.

And what about us? It was a major disappointment in front of a full stadium. Those who were thinking about taking season tickets for next year saw absolutely nothing to persuade them that coughing up £400+ was a particularly good idea.

We struggled at the back, partly because the two full backs were crocked and partly because our two centre backs never looked comfortable. Mensah’s sending off was a correct decision (nice to see Friend get one right without depending on his assistants) and capped a poor game from the Ghanaian, who is looking less and less likely to remain at the SoL next year.

Midfield was disrupted by losing Muntari and Richardson within two minutes of each other, which upset the balance that we had. For the first 30 minutes we had looked the better side, passing the ball well and causing Liverpool some problems.

However, we never once looked like putting Reina under any pressure and most of our attacks faded away as we tried to pick our way through the box. Gyan and Welbeck looked sharp to start to with, but it soon dissipated on the twin rocks of Skrtl and Agger.

So, we are sat at the end of March with nowhere near as many points as we would have hoped for in January. We can hear the galloping hooves of West Brom, Wolves etc coming up behind us. Like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, we are just keeping ahead of them but the pursuit is relentless and we have to be resolute in keeping ahead of them. We are now behind Bolton and Everton, two sides who have spent a lot less than we have and who don’t appear to fall apart after Christmas.

Manchester City up next. They are having problems as well, so we may be able to get something there. And then the “easy” run in which should garner us sufficient points to finish in the top seven or eight. Exciting, eh?

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12 Responses to “Liverpool Soapbox: Reds on the up but benefit from ref’s ineptitude” Subscribe

  1. Dave March 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    maybe the ref felt guily for the beach ball incident 🙂

  2. salutsunderland March 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Surely the person who should feel most guilty about the beach ball is the Liverpool fan who threw it. There’s even healthy debate – see one of the earlier postings – about the incident itself.

  3. JH March 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Decent well written article. I take exception to the comments re. Carragher though. Yes he was claiming a penalty as was I until I saw the replay a couple of times; if it had been the other way around I would have expected Sunderland players to do the same. Not saying I condone it, but its a disease within our game that continues to get worse. I still have visions of Roy Keane and the whole Utd team chasing the ref (Andy Dursow?) around Old Trafford!! I don’t see how you can have a go at Carra for coming out afterwards and admitting it wasn’t a penalty; most players would fudge an answer, he didn’t. As for his tackle on Nani; yes it was a bad tackle and probaly the worst tackle he commited in his 15 odd years as a pro as he said himself. He had the balls to apologise but Nani was having none of it. Interesting to see that for such a vicious tackle Nani was a) able to run around remonstrating with the officials about it and b) be back after 1 week rather than the original 5-6 weeks forecasted.

  4. Pete Sixsmith March 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    Sorry, I’m not letting Carragher off on this one. He could have said nothing and that would have been it, but he is a bit of a rent-a-quote who clearly likes to portray himself as a decent bloke – which he may well be. But he should understand that saying it wasn’t a penalty after he had led his team in putting pressure on the referee is not acceptable.
    That’s annoying for those of us who follow teams that don’t have the powers of persuasion that the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea have. By appearing to be honest, he does himself absolutely no favours.

  5. Stoko March 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Now you come to mention it, Andy Carroll does look a bit like that singer out of Spandau Ballet…

  6. JH March 21, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Hi Pete; all teams put pressure on the ref. Its a part of the game I hate but it’s there. We can learn a lot from rugby on that one, only the captain should be allowed talk to the ref. I’d gladly introduce video technology to help officials. I believe the game is stuck in the dark ages and injustices are highlighted now in every single game almost. For example Arshavins goal was onside and should have been allowed v SAFC. While they were celebrating the goal a 4th official could have confirmed to the ref and linesman. Why not give each manager 1 challenge per game for starters so as not to have too much stop start. That would cover most games as very often a single incident is the deciding factor. As regards Carra he was asked straight out did he think it was a penalty and he gave an honest answer. Are you saying he should lie and do a Wenger? We have enough of those thank you very much.

  7. Pete Sixsmith March 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Then he shouldn’t have lead the crowding round the referee. Albert Camus once said that all I learnt about morality I learnt from football. He’d have a hell of a job to do that now!!
    I was more annoyed at the weakness of the referee who was not prepared to stick to his original (correct) decision and the linesman’s unwillingness to get involved before he realised that Liverpool thought it should be a penalty. The linesman at Arsenal put his flag up straight away and made a genuine error. This linesman made an error in not putting his flag up straight away. The assessor should go through them like the proverbial dose of salts. That’s the kind of officiating that would not be acceptable in the Wearside League.
    And on that, I withdraw from the debate.

  8. malcolm March 21, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    What about another decision that led to a goal which the assistant influenced? Ferdinand’s bumbling lack of control saw him allow the ball to go out of play on the quadrant by the south west corner. The throw was taken with a metre of the white mark denoting 10 yards from the corner flag.

    Now it may seem picky but would Suarez have had the angle and the space to make his run if the officials had insisted that the throw be taken from the correct spot?

    Having said that we never looked a threat even in the first half hour despite our possession up to that point. One shot on target in the entire game says it all. And if that wasn’t bad enough we had to endure the Scouse version of “There’s No Limit” for most of the second half.

  9. kable March 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    RE. JH’s comment that ”
    For example Arshavins goal was onside and should have been allowed v SAFC”
    Total bullsh1t the game was stopped way before he got near the penalty area so how was there a disallowed goal?

  10. Keith Hutton africa March 22, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    Sunderland are missing Darren Bent and there is no one in the team who is comparable with him. Not once did we get around they static and stiff defence. Gyan and Sessagnon unfortunatley flatter to deceive and Mensah for all his strength makes numerous Ricketts. I thought Ferdinand was the pick of the defenders and would like to see him paired with Bramble. The money must be well spent as since Bent left our form is relegation quality and we simply can’t afford to start next season badly. The penalty decision was farcical it wasn’t 5 inches it was 5 feet and the ref should have stayed with his intial decision which was instintive and right. Don’t agree it was a red card innocuous to say the least.

  11. Chris March 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    I don’t necessarily think the lack of recent goals can be attributed to Darren Bent’s departure. Even if we had him sniffing around the box on Sunday, he wouldn’t have found anything. Save for 1 cross in the 1st half, I can’t really remember us actually getting the ball in there (not in any serious way anyway).
    I feel that post-Christmas injuries have hit hard and a lot of the confidence has gone. Let’s hope they can get it back very soon.
    Forgive me for sounding pessimistic, but I recall a high-flying start to the season a decade ago, followed by what seemed to be a never-ending slide. Lets hope we’re at the bottom now, and we’ll see a barnstorming end to the season.

  12. Keith Hutton africa March 23, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    Definetly down to Bents departure we don’t put it in the box because there is no one there. Gyan spends his time on show pony tricks and dancing. Bruce needs to put the lad straight very quickly. Sessagnon also needs to be present when this conversation and lesson is imparted

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