The 219th showdown was a wonderful game, packed full of incidents and excitement, but both sets of fans were grumbling on the local radio phone-ins afterwards. From an Everton manager’s point of view, when you go 2-0 down against your city rivals to fight back to 2-2 and then get a decision going for you in the last seconds of the game which saves you a heart-breaking defeat, you’ve got to be happy with that. In hindsight it’s not the type of result you complain about.
The linesman who got that late goal call wrong aside, I thought the officials did well. Compared to the Chelsea versus Manchester United game the referee was okay. At least he kept 22 players on the pitch and didn’t brandish any unnecessary red cards, like we’ve seen so often in this fixture. He could have sent people off too. Luis Suarez was lucky with his stamp on Distin, and it really annoys me that players who have been injured in a tackle that sees the opponent booked still have to go off the pitch and wait to come back on. It’s an unfair disadvantage.
When it’s simply an incident of a player being injured but no foul, then by all means ask him to go off and come back on – it could deter fakers. But otherwise, it makes the team who have lost a man have to change their system even for a minute or so which can be costly. I see Steven Gerrard apologised for his comments comparing Everton to Stoke and rightly so. However, that post match period is dangerous for players when they’re still pumped up and can be tempted to say things without thinking.