No happy return as Kop and Keane join in condemnation

 

Anfield

It doesn't take away the word that Luis Suarez directed at Patrice Evra 106 days ago but it does take away a little of what Liverpool have been feeling in these past few weeks.

Of all the potential match-winning scenarios, Dirk Kuyt leaving Patrice Evra looking like a man stuck in treacle was as good as it got from a Liverpool perspective.

It was Kuyt whose altercation with Evra prefaced the fateful fracas with Suarez on 15 October – "stand up, stand up," Kuyt screamed at him that day when he suspected gamesmanship – and that the Dutchman should have made such light work of the same adversary in the same area of the Anfield turf yesterday somehow capped it all.

Evra did not know where to turn when the whistle sounded and Anfield ignited with the chant "Luis Suarez". There being no one in red whom he dared approach, he threw away his gloves and trooped off, Jamie Carragher being the solitary Liverpool player willing to offer a hand along the way.

Carragher then embarked on a celebration so loopy in front of the Kop that he lost a boot and had to paddle back to the dressing room wearing one.

Up in the TV gallery, there was a reminder of how brutal an environment football can be because for neither Roy Keane nor Paul Ince did it matter that Evra had spent most of this match having his every touch booed. "Absolutely shocking," was Ince's assessment of how the defender failed to anticipate Andy Carroll beating Jonny Evans in the air and carving Kuyt an open path to goal. Keane went further. "I think he gets caught in a lot of the big games," he said of Evra. "He should be tucking in."

This was not entirely fair. Evra's display in United's 2-1 win at the Emirates last weekend was his best in several years. But it is fair to say that the Suarez imbroglio has obscured the way that a player voted the Premier League's best left-back in the 2006-07 season by his fellow professionals has experienced a collapse in form. Evra actually looked vulnerable at times in the 8-2 demolition of Arsenal in August. James Milner made the 6-1 derby day defeat at Old Trafford miserable for him and it wasn't just an offensive racial term that Suarez dished out in October. He nutmegged Evra twice and generally caused him mayhem. Logic runs that, at 30, Evra has lost some pace.

Evra (right) could have used some pace yesterday from the team-mates who dawdled when he was left alone to brave some vitriol by running for a second half throw-in near the Kop end and the subtext of Suarez was never far away. While Steven Gerrard meant what he said in his programme notes – nothing other than "passionate backing" from fans was "welcome or will be appreciated" – his sentiments for Evra were self-evident when the two captains came to offer each other a hand in the centre circle. There was not a flicker of eye contact from Gerrard. The second half was two minutes old when, as he and Carragher rose together from a tussle, the Liverpool man tapped Evra on the back of the head – the precise action, from Suarez, which so infuriated him.

Evra did not respond. The players, in concert, heeded the FA's pre-match reminder of their responsibilities not to inflame tensions, which never got much beyond the United banner – "MUFC defending titles, LFC defending racism" – raised by an away following which still thought it acceptable to sing of the 96 lives lost at Hillsborough. When Maxi Rodriguez made a two-footed challenge on Ryan Giggs which warranted a dismissal, referee Mark Halsey reserved judgement long enough to see the Argentine was about to be substituted. It was a judicious way to keep the temperature down.

Similar wisdom prevailed in the press room when Dalglish shaped up for a Vesuvian reaction to the question of whether the boos for Evra had disappointed him. "Are you winding me up? Why would I be disappointed for Patrice Evra?" he asked his questioner. "Have you ever played football...?" A hand was placed on Dalglish by his press manager. Actions had already spoken louder than words. Liverpool had their day.

News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
science
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003