Liverpool may have won the Merseyside derby to the delight of their fans, but from a neutral's perspective, this game was a disgrace.
Every time a derby is played anywhere in the world, one expects to see fierce challenges and high emotions on display. However, when that is the only thing which you see in the game, it makes for very dull viewing.
Games between Liverpool and Everton have always been fiery affairs, and in recent times a fair share of red cards have been doled out to both sets of players. This afternoon we saw two red cards but we might as well have seen four.
That football is a contact sport is understood by all, and the great amount of physical teeing up in derbies is almost mandatory. But today's game failed to offer anything apart from that.
Right from the kickoff, players were baying for each other's blood, and it resembled more a rugby game than a game of football. Javier Mascherano's lunge started off the proceedings, and it only got progressively worse from there.
Liverpool created two chances in the game, one being the goal and the other being Steven Gerrard hitting the bar at the end of the first half. Everton only had one shot which was palmed away by Jose Reina.
With the exception of the above, the rest of the game was an exhibition of poor football and harassment of a referee.
Atkinson Not to Blame
The Reds seemed shell-shocked when Sotirios Kyrgiakos was red-carded and Marouane Fellaini was spared after both players went into a horror tackle on each other. They felt that the two-footed lunges were equally bad.
Though, ideally, the two players should have been sent off, it has become all too common now for players to commit a horrendous tackle and stay down to portray victimhood.
Krygiakos connected first, and duly received his marching orders. In a game like this, as mentioned earlier, it would have been entirely possible to see four to five send offs.
But who would have wanted to see that in the first place? Being a referee is a hard enough job already, and ill-tempered matches like this always make the officials look bad. The commentators went on for 10 minutes about how Fellaini should have been sent off as well.
If, indeed, he had gone off and both teams were reduced to 10 men in the first half an hour of play, Atkinson again would have been blamed for "not using common sense." Add to that the constant diving by the Liverpool players, and it makes officiating that much more difficult.
Gerrard's bid to clear the ball that almost saw him take Stephen Piennar's head off (who, in normal circumstances, would have seen red in the first half) also warranted some serious punishment.
A Poor Game of Football
The bottom line from this game for me was that the football on offer lacked any real quality. It was hollow, and the goal came about through Tim Howard trying more to swat a fly than clear the ball.
It was sometimes highly annoying for me to see the commentators describe the game in glorious terms when it was anything but. "You can't take your eyes off this game," bellowed one of them in the last 10 minutes.
Yes, you could have taken your eyes off the game, gone for a walk in the park, made love, and you really wouldn't have missed much, other than a few more mindless tackles.
Being a fan of Italian football, I have noticed the Italian game torn to shreds in the English media time and again. Andy Gray, Martin Tyler, and Co. have never been kind in their words about Italian teams or playing style.
Yet somehow, a drab Merseyside derby with three shots on goal is deemed to be interesting. The logic behind this escapes me and is beyond all reason. Please call things the way they are and not in accordance with your own whims and fancies.
I don't wish to start an England vs. Italy debate once again, about how English teams are going to trounce their Italian counterparts in the Champions League. I just want to remind you that during this game, great football wasn't on display; it was merely hack n'slash.