Sam Wallace: Apology is a good start, but there's plenty more to do

Talking Football: What has not changed is the fact that Liverpool still ultimately reject the ruling by the commission

When finally it did come yesterday, the apology from Luis Suarez was not directed to Patrice Evra in person but was offered rather more for the manner in which his actions before the match at Old Trafford on Saturday had reflected poorly on Liverpool.

As for those apologies that came from Kenny Dalglish and Ian Ayre, the club's managing director, they too were angled to reflect their disapproval of Suarez's failure to shake Evra's hand and the repercussions that it had for the reputation of the club. Ayre said Suarez's behaviour was "not acceptable" and that he had "misled" the club and "let down" Dalglish.

Dalglish said he was "shocked" when he learnt that Suarez had not shaken hands with Evra at the start of the game and he apologised for the manner in which he behaved in his interview at the end of the match which, he said, was not "befitting of a Liverpool manager".

Given the events of the weekend and the potential damage that this latest instalment between these two clubs could have done had it been allowed to linger on through the week, this move from Liverpool was a welcome concession. That Manchester United accepted the apology is the best test of its value and confirmation that it has defused the immediate potential for chaos.

English football in general will breathe a sigh of relief that, in this instance at least, the tricky issue of race can be put to one side and managers, players and even pundits will no longer have to pick their way through the minefield. But the Suarez-Evra case leaves inevitable scars on the game that will be a little less easy to heal.

What has not been changed by yesterday's apology is the fact that Liverpool still ultimately reject the ruling by the independent regulatory commission on New Year's Eve that Suarez was guilty, as charged by the Football Association, of racially abusing Evra. The Liverpool striker may have served his punishment for doing so but as recently as one week ago Dalglish said in a television interview that the player "should never have been banned".

That is the basic contention that remains unchanged by Liverpool, however much Fenway Sports Group and the principal owner, John W Henry, might have leaned upon the club to apologise yesterday. When the club waived the right to appeal Suarez's case last month it continued to argue that the FA's case was "highly subjective" and "ultimately unsubstantiated".

For those of us who still find it bewildering that Liverpool have rejected out of hand a 115-page ruling from one of the country's leading QCs, drawn up in accordance with the rules that all clubs endorse, there is still some way to travel down the road to redemption. Yesterday's apology was a step in the right direction but it addresses only Saturday's developments, not the four months that followed the original game on 15 October.

Unfortunately, those battle lines are still drawn and while there remains a wholehearted rejection of the regulatory commission's ruling on Suarez by Liverpool so there remains considerable doubt. And while there is considerable doubt there is the potential for bad feeling between these two teams on a level that is unprecedented in the game.

On Sky Sports on Saturday, Gary Neville compared the bitterness between the two players in question to the great rivalries that existed between Arsenal and United in the previous decade. It was a good deal more serious than that. Martin Keown v Ruud Van Nistelrooy was nasty at times; Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane once clashed over Vieira's international allegiances, but they were not based on racial slurs.

There are times when football – English football, that is – just does not seem to know how to react to the issue of race. When no less than John Barnes says, as he did on ESPN on Saturday night, that we were in danger of making "a mountain out of a molehill" on the Suarez issue it is necessary to fight the urge to go into an empty room and scream.

As for Dalglish, he was caught out when questioned about Suarez on Saturday by Geoff Shreeves on Sky Sports, and reverted to the way he knows best: an immediate and unqualified backing of his player. He does not have to do that and if the episode has taught him anything it is that the old managerial maxim about keeping all criticism in-house no longer applies.

No manager can hope that his club will be on the side of right all the time. All football clubs are such disparate entities, full of all sorts of crazies, that most players let the manager down at some point. He sacrifices credibility by defending them. Sir Alex Ferguson has not always abided by that rule but he did so on Saturday when he acknowledged that Evra should not have provoked Suarez at the end of the game.

The Suarez saga cannot take responsibility for other outrages committed along racial lines in the game but as an episode it has been allowed to go dangerously open-ended for so long. That is not helpful in a charged atmosphere where Micah Richards has closed down his Twitter account because of racist abuse, presumably the same kind that Stan Collymore retweets regularly.

The Suarez-Evra row is not another great chapter in the rich history of the English game. It is not another compelling rivalry. Quite frankly, it has been an embarrassment, which Liverpool, and Dalglish, have at last gone some way to addressing. Yesterday's apology was certainly a start.

Abramovich may think twice about new manager

Played one; lost one. It is not an auspicious start to Roman Abramovich's new training ground career but, fair's fair, give him time.

The club's Russian owner spent most of the last week looking over Andre Villas-Boas's shoulder at Cobham and by about the third day he had donned the manager's coat too.

Perhaps this is where it is all ultimately heading. The day when Chelsea release the press memorandum that they are "delighted to announce Roman Abramovich as the new manager of Chelsea Football Club".

Perhaps he just needs to get that one out of his system before finally he comes to the conclusion that the surprise training ground visit can do more harm than good.

This KO prize for losers is far from OK

The Europa League this week brings together Stoke City and Valencia, whose varying fortunes are brought into stark contrast when you consider that the last season the Spanish side were in the Champions League final, 11 years ago, the then-not-so-mighty Potters finished fifth in the third tier of English football.

But Stoke have played 10 games to reach the knockout stages of the competition and Valencia have done so by virtue of being eliminated from the Champions League group stage by finishing behind Chelsea and Bayer Leverkusen. So what should be a great cup tie, and will doubtless be an unforgettable night in the Potteries, will be cheapened by this absurd format that rewards the Champions League's losers.

Suggested Topics
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

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map