New season, same old diving debates…
The penalty was not a penalty. Gerrard was not fouled, not even touched. The ref got it horribly wrong, and for what it’s worth might have robbed Sheffield United of a hard-fought home win over the much-hyped, over-achieving Liverpool.
Now before anyone says that it was Phil Jagielka who fouled Gerrard, I urge you to think again – Jagielka was no where near Gerrard in the penalty box – the closest was Chris Morgan and he didn’t even touch Stevie G.
Here’s a clip of the incident:
Rob Styles explained his penalty decision by saying:
“I saw the Sheffield United player to come in and make side contact with Steven Gerrard.
Moving at that pace it’s always going to put him off balance and he subsequently lost the opportunity to score.
There was no advantage so I gave the penalty. I certainly thought there was contact.”
I’ve seen the video a dozen times now, and here’s what I think happened:
- Morgan comes charging in from the right and puts in a sliding tackle for the ball.
- Gerrard skips over the challenge (as he has so many times in the past), loses his balance a bit and hurries his shot, which the keeper saves. If Gerrard had taken an extra half-a-second to compose himself he could have rounded the keeper or beat him, but he took the shot too quickly.
- Gerrard falls over after the save, then complains to the ref about the tackle.
- Rob Styles gives the penalty, Fowler scores, Liverpool are saved, 1-1.
The commentator at the end of the clip asks the right question – if that was a penalty, and if Morgan made contact, why not book him? Morgan already had a yellow card and if he’s giving away a penalty, you have to book him and send him off? Morgan was also the last outfield player between the goal and Gerrard, so anyway you look at it, if there’s contact then that’s a booking.
My second issue is with the statement that Gerrard ‘lost the opportunity to score’. The player got away a shot and if he hadn’t been so quick to take it, he might even still have scored. Yes, it would have been more difficult but it was still possible. The keeper hadn’t come off his line and Gerrard still had a chance to score after the missed tackle.
The third, and most obvious issue, is that there was no contact at all. Morgan slid and Gerrard skipped right over him.
A lot of you might be asking why I’m making such a fuss about this incident and not about anything else. The thing is, football stops being as much fun when referees become incompetent and players forget the spirit in which the game is played.
And of course Rafael Benitez will say that the penalty decision is correct – what else would he say?
According to Benitez, Gerrard claimed that there had been contact. I call bullshit. Not a penalty, and not a foul. A dive? you make your own decisions on that one, but watch the vid closely before you do.
Thoughts on the match
I wrote earlier that Liverpool had quite a lot to prove and expectations to match, and while I don’t think this result means that they’re a bad side, it does mean that Liverpool have some way to go before they live up to the title-challenging that the media has made them out to be.
Direct quote from yesterday’s article:
Their ability to control the game will be their greatest asset, so any team that is good enough to disrupt that control will have a chance to see how the new-look Liverpool play when they are pushed to their limits
Sheffield United got stuck into them today, and Liverpool paid the price for it.
the Hulse goal was well deserved considering that the Liverpool defence did a very poor job of marking him.
It’s a shame to see Riise get injured like that – according to this report it’s just a sprained ankle. Liverpool have said that Carragher is out of the second leg in Kiev against Maccabi Haifa although Riise could make it (I doubt he will).
Hopefully Liverpool will improve (they’ll need to if they are to get through the CL qualifying rounds) and if Sheffield United want to stay up they need to keep turning out these sort of performances.
The refereeing, I’m afraid, will still suck even if it’s improved 100%.