Liverpool’s Friendly fire: wrong on the penalty, wrong on the red

John MensahImage: Addick-edKevin

Throughout a lively, mostly healthy but at times acrimonious debate with Liverpool fans, we have made no attempt to disguise the shortcomings of Sunderland in Sunday’s match.

We have said firmly that we lost not because of bad decisions by match officials but because we could not muster a shot on target for 86 minutes.

And we are generally consistent in our acknowledgement that referees and their linesmen rarely cheat but are as prone as players, managers and fans to human error. Indeed, players make many more errors and these often lead to lost games or lost leads.

But sometimes, a refereeing performance reaches such a level of awfulness that it is right to cry foul.

Step forward our old Friend Kevin, or old Kevin Friend.

Tonight, we learnt that the FA has agreed he was wrong to wave a red card at John Mensah. The match was well lost by then.

But the dismissal – which passed almost without comment in many reports I have seen though there may not even have been a foul, let alone a sending-off offence when Mensah and Luis Suarez merely collided – poured a heap of salt on to the wound Mr Friend, and one of his assistants, Billy Smallwood, had already inflicted.

We will never know of course but bad as we became, I felt the match might have been heading for a goalless draw until the 33rd minute. That’s when the referee inexplicably allowed himself to be overruled by the distant linesman and give a penalty, also against Mensah, for a foul clearly committed – if it was a foul, and there is disagreement there, too – outside the penalty area. As part of the pattern of persecution suffered by the hapless Ghanaian defender, a yellow card was awarded as well as the bogus penalty.

Mr Friend’s handling of the game bore all the hallmarks of a performance influenced by a team who are past masters of get-in-that-ref’s-face tactics.

He also made the extraordinary decision to allow Liverpool both the advantage, which led to an attack being completed and a chance being missed, and then another go, from the free kick the granting and use of the advantage had surely nullified.

We have crossed swords with this referee in the past. He allowed a dreadful challenge by Jermain Defoe, that put Craig Gordon out of the game for a long stretch, to go unpunished. At the other end, although I have admitted that Darren Bent made a meal of Gomez’s challenge, the logical outcome of the referee ruling it was a penalty should have been a red card. At White Hart Lane as at the Stadium of Light, this was evidence of a weak referee. I do not believe for a second that he is dishonest, but he can hardly complain if others reach the exaggerated conclusion that he somehow has it in for Sunderland.

Liverpool still deserved their win and our lot still deserved a thorough pasting for failing remotely to live up to what had billed as a great occasion.

But Mr Friend ought now reduce the volume on his compilation album by Gerry and the Pacemakers and ring up with a public apology to the players, management and supporters of Sunderland AFC. And make immediate plans to ensure that old myth about “evening things up” comes true the next time we meet. If he ropes in Mr Smallwood, from over the Mersey in Cheshire, they can probably make it a conference call.


Monsieur Salut

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17 thoughts on “Liverpool’s Friendly fire: wrong on the penalty, wrong on the red”

  1. We played badly on Sunday, but frankly if Liverpool fans went away happy and thinking that they’d played well, then they simply don’t know as much about football as I would expect most of them to.

    This was a very very moderate Liverpool side who barely had the ball until two enforced substitutions and appalling decisions took their toll. A Liverpool team that played as badly as this would have been booed by their own fans 20 odd years ago regardless of whether they won or not.

    As for 35 mill on Carroll! Dear oh dear! I was reminded that Dalglish was the bloke who thought that Des Hamilton was a PL player,

  2. Beach ball v Turner “back pass” .Surely Bents shot would have been a goal anyway?The back pass incident was disgraceful.Also Gerrard should have been sent off at Anfield.On Sunday Liverpool were given a penalty when the offence was outside the penalty area.They were also given a second chance free kick AFTER the referee had waved play on and the game continued until Liverpool missed the play on!Cattermole should never have been given a yellow card,and Mensah’s sending off was the final insult.All we want is a fair deal.Liverpool were the better team on Sunday but only after your penalty advantage!

  3. Davey – the throw was taken eight yards from where it should have been. i have commented elsewhere on that. Ferdinand lost control on the quadrant and the throw was taken a metre or so from the line that marks 10 yards from the corner flag. I had a great view from my seat in the Premier Concourse. I don’t think that if it had been taken from the correct spot Suarez would have had the room or the angle to make his run. But for Mignolet to be beaten at the near post is disappointing.

    As for whether or not we would have won – I doubt it. Lately we have seen few clear goalscoring opportunities – just one shot on target on Sunday. We are not missing Bent imo but we do seem to lack the ability to open up well organised defences.

  4. Suarez , good player that he is , is a cheat – full stop , we saw that in the world cup – then again on Sunday – jostling the referee and pointing to the spot – when he knew fine well where the tackle took place . The throw for the 2nd goal was taken about 2 yeards from where the ball went out . Goals change games and until Liverpool were awarded the penalty we were the better team .
    I have seen some great performances from Assistant referees this season – they get 99.5 % of offside decisions spot on – how come we had a couple of clowns running the line on Sunday !!!

  5. I do not understand why you think Liverpool deserved their win. It clearly wasn’t a penalty or a red card. At 0-0 with 11 men would we not have been better placed to win. It was I agreed a terrible performance by both teams but Suarez although a good player has the integrity of a sewer rat and will do well to develop moral character quickly. Kenny Daglish has gone down in my opinion and Liverpool need a serious wake up. I believe we are still paying for the beach ball and the stolen goal at Anfield was not considered enough the refs union are still doling out retribution. The standard of referring in the EPL this seson is poor very poor

  6. The ‘Turner free kick’ goal shouldn’t have stood, neither should the beach ball effort.

    On Saturday it was even until the ‘penalty’ incident, the game changed after that, especially with the substitutions having to take place.

    Mensah shouldn’t have got a red as has been supported by the FA.

    At the end of the day, as a result of the decisions that unfolded, Liverpool were the better team and took the points. Little else to say, really, no hard feelings towards the scousers as we would probably done everything they did in the circumstances – good luck to them, I say.

  7. Spink:

    I agree we’ve got to move on but today’s development was interesting. Almost every point you make is open to dispute.I am absolutely sure Liverpool knew it was not an attempt to take the free kick and that makes it rank band sportsmanship quite apart from the fact that the intervention was allowed to stand in total defiance of the 10-yard rule. Mensah did get a yellow for the penalty but there is healthy debate on whether that, or the collision with Suarez, was a foul at all. The beach ball has been dealt with; I’ve watched the clips over and over and am still not sure whether the ball hit Johnson or the ball or both.

  8. People keep bringing that free kick up at Anfield earlier in the season but from what I saw the ball was where the fould had happened and Turner turned and kicked it back to Mignolet so the free kick was taken but yes I don’t think even the biggest fans of Liverpool can say it was a penalty but it should have been a free kick and a yellow card and it should have been a second yellow card for the foul on Suarez so he still should have been sent off and as for Brucies comments of the linesman being 80 yards away giving the decision well he was also looking down the line so was still in a good position to see it and at that speed it could have looked inside (again not saying it was a penalty it were a free kick).
    But let’s all just move on and look forward to whatever controversy their will be in the nezt game between these two.

  9. Malcolm

    I think you’ll find FA rules require referees to book Cattermole at the earliest opportunity, even if he’s injured and watching the game with some mates in his SoL box. Probably his own fault the rule was brought in but it’s the one thing referees have been consistent on all season.

  10. Face it and, stop making excuses………………YOU WERE PLAYED OFF THE PARK!…..you were very lucky, i’d say…..should have been at least 4 or 5!!!

  11. Surely this just balances out last years result? Liverpool fans felt just as sore over that last year.

    That would have been a fair point but for two reasons Danny. The goal last year hit Johnson. The ball was thrown in by one of your lot so any injury self induced. Secondly, do you remember Stuart Atwell’s assistance down at your place when Michael Turner kicked the ball back to Mignolet to take the free kick, and in typical cheeky chappy Scouse fashion one of your lads scored?

    Don’t you follow football much?

  12. Has anyone commented on Cattermole’s card? I have to admit that I didn’t see what it was for, as the ball had been played away from his area. Was it justified or was it a case of a card because of the player involved?

  13. To all Liverpool fans claiming that ‘this evens up the beachball’ – please remeber the fiasco at your place earlier in the season when the referee decided we’d taken a free kick that clearly hadn’t been taken. Didn’t that even it up? No – because as a ‘huge club with sooooo much history’ you clearly deserve to be one up on us. Of course. Everyone knows that the decision completely changed the game – and those who say it didn’t affect the game clearly don’t understand (the importance of cheap goals in) football.

    It’s high time that referees were a) accountable and b) assisted.

    Everyone watching at home had seen 3 replays clearly showing that the tackle was outside the area by the time the ref and assistant had decided it was inside. Why is everyone but the officials allowed to see such a crucial incident?

    As for the Cattermole booking for waving his foot in the general direction of a Liverpool player – that alone shows that referees enter games with preconceived ideas of who will do what, rather than judging incidents on their own merit.

    I have no malice against the scousers – I’m sure they’ve more bad decisions agaisn tthem than is tolerable, as have we all. Please try to remember that you’ve had more than your fair share of decisions against us though, next time it’s our turn.

  14. Come on now M. Salut. Time has surely come to recognise that referees can and will cheat whenever they think that they can get away with it. Anyone watching that game at the weekend with even half an eye on it could see that Mr Friend was nothing but a fraud. Worse still he even had the linesman at it.

    I think that we should take the view that the referee is always cheating unless we have clear and undisputed evidence to the contrary.

    I don’t wish Mr Friend any harm at all but I hope that someone greases his stairs before he goes to bed tonight.

  15. Balances out last years result?, it seems that this fixture is no stranger to bizarre refereeing decisions. Yes, we had the Darren Bent Beachball incident, but since then we have also had the bizarre free kick goal at Anfield, Gerrard should also have been sent off in this game and now Yesterday’s penalty decision followed by Mensah’s red card, give it a couple more seasons and I reckon we will be able to release a Referee’s Bloopers DVD based uniquely on the fixture!

  16. Strange decision by the FA as although it may not have been a straight red (ball not under control), he still fouled Suarez by wrapping his arms around him (a foul no matter the extent of contact used) and if I am right he already had a yellow card, therefore = red!!!

  17. Surely this just balances out last years result? Liverpool fans felt just as sore over that last year.

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