Footballers make mistakes. Managers make mistakes in selections and substitutions. Both are made to answer to heavy questioning from the media and fans. Referee’s however, receive no such treatment. Howard Webb, who represented England at the World Cup last year and recently received his MBE, was subject of a very questionable call yesterday when John Flanagan and Steven Pienaar went shoulder to shoulder. The initial “foul” happened outside the area, and the two were still shoulder to shoulder going inside the box as Pienaar went down. Luka Modric converted for Spurs, giving them a 2-0 win at Anfield, only their second on the ground in the Premier League era.
It was Kenny Dalglish’s first loss at home since his return, and was unhappy at the decision, reiterating calls for officials to publicly explain contentious decisions.
“I’m not here to sponsor the FA,” said Dalglish. “It is unhelpful to everyone that we cannot express our true thoughts and it is even more disappointing that the officials get away scot-free without having to come in and explain their decisions.
“I think it is safer for me to leave it at that.
“We cannot legislate for refereeing mistakes but we could have been a greater help to ourselves if we had started the game better.”
Victory gave Spurs the advantage in the race for the final Europa League place as they now have a point advantage over the Reds with a match remaining.
“They started better than we did and scored a goal and we didn’t start to play for 25 minutes,” Dalglish added. We started to look a bit better and then at the start of the second half they got the second goal and that gave them a real foothold and we didn’t have enough to break them down.
“I don’t think Pepe Reina was over-busy either but we never played as well as we can play.
Andy Carroll made his return after an injury layoff, and put in a good shift on his return from injury, and it changed Liverpool’s formation that has been in sure-fire form over the past two weeks. However, Dalglish believes it was a change in attitude rather than style of play that impacted the result.
“Whoever is going to play, it doesn’t affect anybody’s approach or attitude to the game – you go into the game, you start nice and sharp and on you go,” he added
“He (Carroll) hasn’t trained as much as he or we would have liked. We were forced into playing him a wee bit because David Ngog had only had 45 minutes in a reserve game, so it was either him or Andy. For Andy to last as long as he did was more than we expected.
“I don’t think a change in the way you play should contribute to changes in attitude and approach to the game. We never approached it well enough in the first half and paid the price for that.”
The result was Liverpool’s final game at home and took a traditional lap of honor at the end of the match. Liverpool have enjoyed a flaming run over the past couple of months, and in a week where Kenny Dalglish was reinstalled as Liverpool’s permanent manager, it seemed fitting that Liverpool could clinch European football at home. It wasn’t to be however, and Dalglish said, ”
“That is a disappointment for the players because it would have been a fitting way to finish the season at Anfield for the efforts they’ve put in since January – maybe it was too much of a fairytale.
“We don’t know why we didn’t start as well as what we have done and are capable of, but I suppose like in everything else, you get days like that.”