Manchester United's Patrice Evra and Liverpool's Luis Suárez, during the heated encounter at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Luis Suárez ensured that the resurgent enmity between the two clubs would continue when he refused to shake the hand of Manchester United's Patrice Evra during the Football Association's mandated pre-game handshake routine.
Liverpool versus Manchester United is the top rivalry in English football and the fixture generally requires no additional influx of attention or controversy. With Suárez making his first visit to Old Trafford since the racism row arose in the wake of the two teams' October 15 draw at Anfield, there was always going to be a lot of hype as it were.
One could supply the obligatory post-game analysis here, but to what end? With his antics, Suárez has made certain that he would remain the center of attention, and so here we are. In the process, he has disgraced the badge and made a liar of his manager.
“People are already speculating on the pre-match ceremony,” Dalglish said. “But from Luis’s point of view, we have spoken to him and I know he will shake the hand of Patrice Evra and the other Manchester United players before the game.”
The snub prompted a furious response from Manchester United's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson who branded the Uruguayan a "disgrace."
"I could not believe it, I just could not believe it. He's a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club, that certain player should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again."
Reaction on Twitter has been swift:
Once again reputation of Liverpool FC is damaged. Surely Suarez is more trouble than he's worth. Dalglish deluded...
@StanCollymore childish,should have knocked heads instead, absolutely, no diplomacy, pathetic!
@SkySports suarez v evra handshake is an embaressment to english football arent we supposed to be setting standards for the football world
It is unlikely that Suárez would not ever again feature for Liverpool, but it is difficult to argue with Ferguson's statement. Benching Suárez would be fatal to any hopes Liverpool might harbor about winning trophies, or qualifying for the Champions League. As a sheer matter of policy, however, it would absolutely be the right thing to do.
It will never happen, of course. Liverpool circled the proverbial wagons from the initial inception of the racism row and have continued in their steadfast defense, of what can only objectively be termed the indefensible.
Remarkably, Dalglish pleads ignorance to the whole handshake imbroglio, which is plausible, I suppose, but how likely is it really that the one item most talked about in the run-up would have been missed by the Liverpool manager? One has no choice but to take him at his word, I suppose.
None of this is to suggest that United acquitted themselves admirably on the day. Immediately following Suárez's snub, Rio Ferdinand, who was next in line after Evra, ignored Suárez' offer of a handshake. An understandable reaction perhaps, but that does not make it right.
At halftime, the teams reportedly clashed in the tunnel, when Patrice Evra (according to ESPN's on-air broadcast) approached Suárez over the snub. Details remain unclear, but it certainly seemed to have precipitated a dust-up.
Towards the end of the match, Suárez vigorously kicked the ball out of play very close to Evra and almost striking him. Perhaps with this in mind, at the final whistle, Evra engaged in a prolonged and exaggerated celebration, at one point right in front of Suárez, which even Ferguson conceded he should not have done.
Football is bigger than any one individual and despite suggestions by some that the pre-game handshake should have been dispatched with, this is precisely the message that the ritual is meant to underscore—sportsmanship should trump all.
Sadly, the lesson continues to be lost on Suárez, who for all his remarkable talent, continues to find himself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Liverpool FC would do well to make sure that their player gets the message and cleans up his act. Should he fail to adjust his behavior then moving him on would be proper.