Tag Archives: handshake

John Terry snubs David Bernstein as Chelsea hand back the Champions League Trophy to UEFA

Champions of Europe, we know what we were: Chelsea boys feeling blue as they hand back trophy… and axed England captain Terry snubs handshake from FA chief Bernstein

amidst racism allegations made against him after a clash with QPR defender Anton Ferdinand in October 2011.

The 32-year-old defender later retired from international football in September 2012 after being charged by the FA for the incident after he had been found not guilty of racist abuse in court.

Snub: The moment Chelsea captain John Terry (second left) sensationally snubbed FA Chairman David Bernstein (second right) by refusing to shake his hand

Snub: The moment Chelsea captain John Terry (second left) sensationally snubbed FA Chairman David Bernstein (second right) by refusing to shake his hand

Walking away: After Bernstein talks with Branislav Ivanovic and Petr Cech Terry walks away to avoid having to speak with him

Walking away: After Bernstein talks with Branislav Ivanovic and Petr Cech Terry walks away to avoid having to speak with him

Snub: Chelsea captain John Terry (right), pictured with UEFA President Michel Platini, sensationally snubbed FA Chairman David Bernstein (below, right) by refusing to shake his hand

Snub: Chelsea captain John Terry (right), pictured with UEFA President Michel Platini, sensationally snubbed FA Chairman David Bernstein (below, right) by refusing to shake his hand

Didn't notice: FA Chairman David Bernstein (right) said he wasn't aware he had been snubbed

Didn't notice: FA Chairman David Bernstein (right) claimed he wasn't aware he had been snubbed

Charles Sale predicted trouble

In his Sports Agenda column, Charles Sale revealed that Terry and Bernstein were set to share the stage together. Click here for the story.

bernstein has been speaking to Terry's Chelsea team-mates Branislav Ivanovic and Petr Cech, but when it was his turn, Terry took a step away to avoid speaking to the FA chairman.

Asked about the incident, Bernstein told Sky Sports News: I didn't notice anything, my relationships with everyone in here are really fantastic so I didn't notice a thing. I

'think we should talk about more positive things than that sort of nonsense'

When asked about his relationship
with Terry, Bernstein – who leaves his post as FA chairman in July –
added: 'A little distant.'

He seemed cool on making any attempt to kiss and make up with the Chelsea captain.

'I'm not really terribly concerned,' he add. 'I have other things to think about. In my last three months, I have other priorities.'

Terry was joined by team-mates Frank
Lampard, Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic as Chelsea handed back
the trophy they famously won last May.

We'll have that back: Eleven months to the day after their famous night in Munich, Chelsea have returned the Champions League trophy to UEFA

We'll have that back: Eleven months to the day after their famous night in Munich, Chelsea have returned the Champions League trophy to UEFA

Terry is also unhappy with Bernstein's role in his court case last year where he was cleared of a racism offence though later banned for four matches by the FA.

Terry, also speaking to Sky Sports News, said: 'No, listen it's a difficult one for me. Obviously, he was the one who spoke about me in the court case and said things I don't want to talk on air. It's probably a subject that we should maybe just avoid.'

Asked if he shook Bernstein's hand during before the ceremony, Terry replied: 'No.'

Say goodbye: Chelsea players Petr Cech, John Terry, Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic (left to right) with UEFA President Michel Platini (centre)

Say goodbye: Chelsea players Petr Cech, John Terry, Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic (left to right) with UEFA President Michel Platini (centre)

Perfect Moment: Didier Drogba hits the penalty that won Chelsea the Champions League last season

Perfect Moment: Didier Drogba hits the penalty that won Chelsea the Champions League last season

It was the moment that all Chelsea fans have been dreading, but 11 months to the day after Didier Drogba's penalty completed the most famous night in their history, Chelsea finally relinquished their hold on the Champions League trophy.

In an official ceremony in London, members of the Blues' heroic squad, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres, gave the trophy back to UEFA President Michel Platini ahead of the 2013 final that will be played at Wembley on May 25.

Since that night Chelsea have undergone a tumultuous transformation.

Jubilant: Chelsea players celebrate their victory in Munich

Jubilant: Chelsea players celebrate their victory in Munich

Drogba, the talismanic striker who scored the equalising goal in the dying minutes of normal time before scoring the winning penalty, left the club along with Salomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa, who played prominent roles in the final, and Raul Meireles, who was excellent in the semi-final win over Barcelona in the Nou Camp, as Chelsea looked add youth to an ageing squad.

Of course, Chelsea also got rid of their Champions League winning manager, Roberto Di Matteo, just six months after lifting the trophy in Germany.

What should have been a glorious campaign as Champions League holders became a disaster for the club as they crashed out of the group stages, becoming the first holders to ever exit the competition that early.

Gone but not forgotten: Roberto Di Matteo (centre) was sacked from the Chelsea jobs just six months after lifting the trophy

Gone but not forgotten: Roberto Di Matteo (centre) was sacked from the Chelsea jobs just six months after lifting the trophy

Mr Chelsea: John Terry was banned from the final but that didn't stop his exuberant celebrations

Mr Chelsea: John Terry was banned from the final but that didn't stop his exuberant celebrations

The board's decision to replace Di Matteo with former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez was met with loud opposition from Chelsea fans.

Benitez had appealed to fans to get off his back and support the team, and this seems to have happened in recent weeks, leading to an upturn in league form – Chelsea now sit third in the table with a game in hand over fourth placed Arsenal.

Chelsea travel to Anfield this weekend in what will be an emotional return for the current manager – he spent six years at Liverpool, winning the Champions League trophy in 2005 after one of the best comebacks ever seen against AC Milan in Istanbul.

Preparation: Rafa Benitez (second left) prepares to take a team to former club Liverpool for the first time on Sunday

Preparation: Rafa Benitez (second left) prepares to take a team to former club Liverpool for the first time on Sunday

No bearing: Benitez has said that his ties with Anfield will have no bearing on the match - he will be going for three points

No bearing: Benitez has said that his ties with Anfield will have no bearing on the match – he will be going for three points

But Benitez has insisted that his emotional ties with Liverpool will have no bearing on him going for the three points.

I will try to do the best for my team and that is Chelsea,’ said Benitez. ‘I am a professional and that is what I have to do. I cannot forget the time I spent there and the feeling, the atmosphere, the success, the link with the fans and the city — it is my home — but I will try to win. That is what I have to do.

‘This will be quite emotional but I have to concentrate. It will not be easy when you see so many friends around but I will try to concentrate on the game. The players have to believe I can manage the situation and give them help if they need it. Normally, I am not too emotional but now I’m getting older it happens sometimes.’

PS.

This isn't the first time Terry has been involved in handbags over a handshake, although he's usually on the receiving end of the snub…

Wayne Bridge and John Terry

Anton Ferdinand snubs John Terry

Who could forget Wayne Bridge snubs a handshake from Terry after rumours Terry had had an affair with Bridge's former fiance Vanessa Perroncel (left); and Anton Ferdinand snubs Terry after last year's race storm

Football's other hand-shaking controversies

WAYNE BRIDGE & JOHN TERRY: In January 2010 claims Terry had had an alleged relationship with the former partner of one-time team-mate Wayne Bridge emerged, despite Terry being behind a gagging injunction. He was axed as England captain and Manchester City defender Bridge quit international football saying his position in the team – potentially alongside Terry – was 'untenable and potentially divisive'. The teams met just a few weeks later on February 27 but in the traditional pre-match handshake, Bridge refused Terry's outstretched hand.

QPR & CHELSEA: The teams met at Loftus Road on October 23, 2011, after which Terry was accused of racially abusing Ferdinand. The sides were then drawn to face each other in an FA Cup tie in January 2012 with intense focus on whether the pair would or would not shake hands. The then QPR boss Mark Hughes held a meeting with his players and officials over the handshake. Ultimately, the FA decided to scrap the ritual. The Premier League took the same action in April in the first league game between the two since the original incident after Ferdinand's lawyers advised him not to shake Terry's hand. In September 2012, Ferdinand snubbed both Terry and Ashley Cole, who testified for the former at his trial, as did Park Ji-sung, former team-mate of Rio Ferdinand.

PATRICE EVRA & LUIS SUAREZ: Liverpool striker Suarez was given an eight-match ban after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Evra in October 2011. The Reds were vocal in their defence of the Uruguayan, a move that did little to endear either them or the player to the general public. Suarez's first start after the suspension happened to be at Old Trafford but it was he who refused the hand of Evra. The Red Devils captain offered his hand to the Uruguay international but he bypassed the Frenchman. Evra did not accept that and attempted to grab Suarez's arm to complete the formalities, but the striker shrugged him off. Rio Ferdinand, further down the line, then refused to shake Suarez's hand.

JOHN TERRY & DAVID BERNSTEIN: Terry's simmering resentment showed itself again today as he confirmed he had rejected the FA chairman's attempt to shake hands. Bernstein was the man who stripped Terry of the England captaincy and despite being cleared at Westminster Magistrates' Court of making a racist insult, he was charged by the FA and banned for four matches. Bernstein insisted he was unaware of the Chelsea player's snub while admitting his relationship with Terry was 'a little distant'. He told Sky Sports News: 'I didn't notice a thing and I think we should talk about more positive things than that sort of nonsense. I'm not really terribly concerned.'

Alex Ferguson says Rafa Benitez should stand in front of him to shake hand

Rafa wants to shake my hand Well, he should stand in front of me next time! Fergie stokes new row with Chelsea boss

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

13:40 GMT, 15 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:41 GMT, 16 March 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson has re-opened his feud with Rafael Benitez over their handshake row.

The pair, who have a history of fall-outs, didn't shake hands before their FA Cup clash at Manchester United on Sunday.

Benitez later claimed that Ferguson ignored him prior to kick-off in the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

Scroll down for video

Clash: Sir Alex Ferguson (right) and Rafa Benitez on the touchline on Sunday

Clash: Sir Alex Ferguson (right) and Rafa Benitez on the touchline on Sunday

Hitting back: Sir Alex Ferguson (right) at the Cheltenham Festival with Paul Nicholls this week

Hitting back: Sir Alex Ferguson (right) at the Cheltenham Festival with Paul Nicholls this week

But Ferguson has now hit back, insisting that he did not refuse – before giving them Chelsea boss some advice.

He said: 'It is nonsense. Why would I refuse to shake his hand

'I was signing autographs and I never saw him. Why he has said that I have no idea.

Pointing the way: Benitez takes charge of Chelsea's training session on Friday

Pointing the way: Benitez takes charge of Chelsea's training session on Friday

'If he wanted to shake hands he could have stood straight in front of me. It is absolute nonsense.'

Ferguson and Benitez have had several run-ins in the Barclays Premier League – dating back to their United v Liverpool clashes.

The Spaniard famously held a press conference in 2009 where he ran down a list of 'facts' attacking Ferguson's record.

VIDEO “I didn't see him.” Fergie denies Benitez handshake claim

Absolute NONSENSE. Fergie rubbishes Benitez handshake claim

DM.has('rcpv2229658223001','BC',
'renderConfig' :

'css' : “videoplayer-large”,
'autoplay' : false,
'muted' : false,
'title' : “Absolute NONSENSE. Fergie rubbishes Benitez handshake claim”,
'videoId' : 1002537,
'adsEnabled' : true,
'playerId' : “1989148206001”,
'playerKey' : “AQ~~,AAAAAFSL1bg~,CmS1EFtcMWELN_eSE9A7gpcGWF5XAVmI”,
'objId' : “rcpv2229658223001”,
'videoPlayer' : “2229658223001”,
'width' : 636,
'height' : 358,
'linkBaseURL' : “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2293892/Alex-Ferguson-says-Rafa-Benitez-stand-shake-hand.html”

});

Alex Ferguson on Rio and Reading

DM.has('rcpv2228490817001','BC',
'renderConfig' :

'css' : “videoplayer-large”,
'autoplay' : false,
'muted' : false,
'title' : “Alex Ferguson on Rio and Reading”,
'videoId' : 1002452,
'adsEnabled' : true,
'playerId' : “1989148206001”,
'playerKey' : “AQ~~,AAAAAFSL1bg~,CmS1EFtcMWELN_eSE9A7gpcGWF5XAVmI”,
'objId' : “rcpv2228490817001”,
'videoPlayer' : “2228490817001”,
'width' : 636,
'height' : 358,
'linkBaseURL' : “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2293892/Alex-Ferguson-says-Rafa-Benitez-stand-shake-hand.html”

});

MARTIN SAMUEL – THE DEBATE: Luis Suarez…just "wonderful", but could we have this man as the Footballer of the Year?

Luis Suarez… just 'wonderful', but could we have this man as the Footballer of the Year

/12/29/article-2254245-16A063BC000005DC-974_634x429.jpg” width=”634″ height=”429″ alt=”Kop idol: Suarez has the backing of the Liverpool supporters” class=”blkBorder” />

Kop idol: Suarez has the backing of the Liverpool supporters

Martin,
your colleague from the Times, Tony Evans, wrote a great piece last
season just after Suarez had deliberately ignored the handshake of
Patrice Evra at Old Trafford.

Evans,
a Liverpool scribe and fan, said of the Uruguayan: 'We are not talking
Ian Callaghan here. Suarez bites people. He handles the ball on the line
in World Cup Finals. He dives. He cheats. He verbally abuses opponents.
Luiz Suarez IS obnoxious.'

Enough said. Should Suarez be named Player of the year Should he hell as like.
Red Predictor, Manchester

I can completely understand this
point of view. Its existence was the crux of the piece. Yet we accept
human failings in art, and just look at the work, but expect footballers
to be morally upstanding.

Top bloke, Tony, by the way and a
true Liverpool man. I don’t actually disagree with a word he wrote
there, but would still ask whether an individual can overcome all of
those misgivings to cast a vote.

I said I would find it hard; but
you’ll notice I didn’t say for certain that I couldn’t. You have
stronger conviction on the issue, though, and I respect that.

Touch of class: Suarez took the ball on his chest before slotting home against Newcastle earlier this season

Touch of class: Suarez took the ball on his chest before slotting home against Newcastle earlier this season

Finished off: Suarez's goal against Newcastle was a perfect example of what he's capable of

Finished off: Suarez's goal against Newcastle was a perfect example of what he's capable of

Just goes to show it isn't really Footballer of the Year, it’s the nice person of the year. Ridiculous. Andypom, Wellington

No, it isn’t Andy, but some members of the Football Writers Association, young and old, do believe that being a role model is part of the package. It certainly was when the award was inaugurated and it could be argued that a positive image matters more than ever now, when there is so much dubious behaviour in the game. Not a view I subscribe to personally, but I recognise its sincerity.

………………………………………………………………………….

Suarez isn't good enough for the neutral to overlook all the bad things in his game. For every great goal there is an embarrassing dive. Liverpool fans forget that while they may be blinded and biased because he is scoring goals for them, all fans of other clubs see is an undoubtedly talented striker cheating and diving and screaming and stamping. Rinzler, Manchester

True, but the same could be said of many players. Club allegiances work like blinkers at times.

………………………………………………………………………….

I wonder who'd get ref of the year. Don’t you think it would be really
interesting to see the result of a ground-by-ground referendum on that
Jimboin, Preston

No.

Wind up: Suarez took a dive in front of Everton boss David Moyes to celebrate his goal in the Merseyside derby

Wind up: Suarez took a dive in front of Everton boss David Moyes to celebrate his goal in the Merseyside derby

Suarez is finally translating his goal scoring form from Holland to the Premier League but he needs to be able to sustain that form. A lot of players go through purple patches and later fade.
Musa, London

Absolutely. Before Suarez, I thought Juan Mata was going to be the outstanding player of the season and since the piece was written Robin Van Persie has come into his own. I was more interested in the idea that Suarez might sustain this form and how football might react to him then.

………………………………………………………………………….

Luis Suarez is NOT a racist. You can keep harping on about it all you like but the FA report said Suarez is not a racist; Patrice Evra said Suarez is not a racist. Yet you continue to act like he goes around with a white sheet over his head in his spare time. You are making yourself look ridiculous by continuing to portray him as the pantomime villain while your docile minions lap up every word. Simon, Swindon

Minions Minions I wish, mate. Simon, I’ve revisited the original piece and nowhere does it get into whether or not Suarez is actually racist.

It is, however, utterly disingenuous to pretend that having been banned for a substantial length of time for using racially charged language Suarez is not associated with the practice.

My point was that Suarez does have this pantomime villain status, making it hard to get the credit he deserves.

And by the way, I don’t want docility, just people who understand the argument and enjoy discussing or arguing it in a civilised way. Which I hope we’re doing here.

Spot of bother: Suarez was the World Cup villain in 2010 as he saw red for handball in the quarter-final with Ghana - but the Africans missed the penalty and the striker was a hero in Urugauy as they progressed (below)

Spot of bother: Suarez was the World Cup villain in 2010 as he saw red for handball in the quarter-final with Ghana – but the Africans missed the penalty and the striker was a hero in Urugauy as they progressed (below)

So let me get this straight Martin, you wouldn't vote for the best player in the league to pick up the best player award Metro El, Liverpool

Never said that. Read the piece. Could I vote for him, I asked, and replied: 'It would be very, very hard.'

That’s not the same as saying I couldn’t. The whole tone of the column suggested that, using my feelings towards art as a measure, I’d bite the bullet and go with the finest footballer, regardless.

Cheeky: Suarez celebrated after Uruguay dumped Ghana out of the World Cup in South Africa

Maybe the best behaved could have their own award, or perhaps even let them win Sports Personality of the Year. Izzie, Aldershot

Right, because Bradley Wiggins got that just for being a goody two-shoes.

………………………………………………………………………….

Society is influenced by the media. Newspapers thrive off the controversy of the characters they depict. Suarez is classed as the player people love to hate, and the bad press he is subjected to week in week out is exaggerated and biased. Palm, Kidderminster

I wouldn’t disagree there. I think each season develops a narrative which drives the news agenda and once a player is cast as a certain character it is difficult to shake off his role in the story.

I think referees are influenced by this narrative, too, as Gareth Bale is now discovering. This means the same behaviour from different individuals will then be treated differently.

Some dives are forgotten, others attract headlines. I’m not justifying or condoning that but I would also argue that good journalists try to resist this trap.

I think Suarez gets a raw deal from referees, and the press, because he has been cast as one of the bad guys.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t contributed greatly to his own dismal reputation..

No goody two-shoes: SIR Bradley Wiggins has done alright for himself in terms of picking up honours

No goody two-shoes: SIR Bradley Wiggins has done alright for himself in terms of picking up honours

Every man commenting on here, regardless of colour, has called another man of a different skin tone a racist name at some time. Whether or not it was to the face, behind the back, in the school playground or driving the car, we have all done it. Move on. New York DJ, London

Speak for yourself mate. I’ve always thought racial language was either part of your vocabulary or not. I’m not being holier than thou, but I just don’t see how somebody is a temporary racist. You either see black men as n*****s, or you don’t.

………………………………………………………………………….

There is a flaw in your argument: why will Gary Glitter never be seen receiving a music award
Jimbo, Lincolnshire

Because he wasn’t any good, Jim. Come on. Look, I’ve got Rock and Roll Part 2 on my I-Pod but that’s basically a Glitter Band track with a killer riff and a bit of chanting. There’s a lot of Ike Turner on there, too. One for the ladies, as my wife always says whenever he comes on.

………………………………………………………………………….

If there is a black breakaway players' union in response to this, would Suarez, who is one quarter black, not be able to join; or would you have to be 100 per cent black

Would it exclude Rio Ferdinand as he's only 50 per cent black And isn't the idea of forming an exclusive union based on the lines of race in response to another player winning an award based on ability, racist Donga, York

To be fair the idea of a Footballer of the Year Award for Suarez precipitating a breakaway black union was my extrapolation of the controversy such a vote would cause, rather than any proposed event.

Your point about levels of blackness is well made though, and comes back to the Gil Scott-Heron quote about competitions among black people to be blackest.

Anything that divides is ultimately unhelpful and to split black and white players seems a backward step.

Not guilty: Suarez was accused by Wigan of stamping on David Jones this season but he escaped punishment

Not guilty: Suarez was accused by Wigan of stamping on David Jones this season but he escaped punishment

I thought sledding was a massive part of sport. Expatmac, Perth, Australia

No, sledding is a massive part of Polar exploration, like huskies and frostbite. Sledging is perceived to a part of sport, but it doesn’t have to be. And what Suarez was accused of wasn’t sledging anyway.

………………………………………………………………………….

Who cares who journalists make Footballer of the Year It's never mattered to anyone except the media, certainly not real football fans anyway. If Suarez finishes as top scorer there's nothing anyone can do to take that award off him. How funny it would be to see his big toothy grin receiving that trophy on the pages of your newspapers. Dobbelina, Camden

Well, the players who win the FWA award seem to care and the list of previous winners is pretty good company, too.

What you fail to understand is journalists are real football fans, too. They supported teams and paid to watch matches until work got in the way. That is why, like fans, they debate the issues, including the criteria of this award.

Now, Dobbelina, would you quit/you really make sick/with your fraudulent behaviour.

Ha ha, you’ve got to know your old school rap to get that one, which by the sounds of his alias, our friend from Camden does. So no offence taken, I hope.

Altogether now: Mistadobalina, MistaBobdobalina, Mistadobalina, MistaBobdobalina… And on that note, as we doff our caps to Del Tha Funky Homosapien (enjoy the clip), let’s try to clear a few things up.

Here is the introduction from Eric Cantona's winners’ entry on the Football Writers Association website, following his award in 1996.

'Controversial, yes, but never boring, Eric Cantona’s personality, presence, goals and achievements should be remembered more than any disciplinary excesses or references to sardines.'

Guess you didn't vote for him then, Martin. Smoke5screen, Liverpool

No, I don’t think I did. Actually, I don’t vote most years because I believe the decision is made too early when the season isn’t decided and I wouldn’t wish to commit to a view I might later contradict in a column. And, by the way, FWA members don’t vote en bloc. It’s not like the Labour leadership contest.

………………………………………………………………………….

Well this is a new one, comparing Suarez to an anti-Semite. Alex, Angola

No, I compared our attitude to unpalatable behaviour in the world of art to our attitudes towards sportsmen who transgress in a way that society finds unacceptable. Nowhere does it link Suarez as an individual to anti-Semitism.

………………………………………………………………………….

I don't know if they voted for Poet of the Year in Larkin's day but if they did he probably wouldn't win it anyway when up against poetry’s equivalent of Robin van Persie, who has been so sublime and superior to him. Nick, Sarlat

Now, look Nick, I don’t mind you voting Van Persie over Suarez, but if you’re going to come on here dissing Philip Larkin, we may have words.

………………………………………………………………………….

The question you should ask is: is there a better player than him No. Zanydave, Wirral

Maybe.

………………………………………………………………………….

If John Terry can be England captain then Luis Suarez can be player of the year.
Mooroondu, Brisbane

Terry isn’t England captain. Keep up.

Iconic: Suarez, like Kenny Dalglish during his playing days at Anfield, was handed the No 7 jersey

Iconic: Suarez, like Kenny Dalglish during his playing days at Anfield, was handed the No 7 jersey

So you're saying John Terry, a proud Englishman unlike that cheating Uruguayan, will end up winning John, Minneapolis

No. Nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. Terry is not even mentioned in the piece. Nothing to do with him at all. Sometimes it helps to read the piece rather than have your interpretation handed down by some twerp on Twitter.

………………………………………………………………………….

Too moralist, the British. Fabio Capello was right, they think everybody is wrong and they are right. Leaf27, Montreal

Yes, mate, that’s what’s holding the planet back: morality.

………………………………………………………………………….

Suarez is overrated, like Fernando Torres at Liverpool, a big fish in a little pond. He wouldn't last a season at a top club and needs more chances than Andy Cole. Wilson, Fleetwood

Seriously harsh this. I will admit that when a team is ordinary, as Liverpool are, one player can have a disproportionate influence and his ability becomes exaggerated because he is of such worth to that team.

Yet I think it is to Suarez’s credit that he is shouldering such a burden at Anfield.

As far as his chance-to-goal ratio, yes it could improve, but he is not meant to be the main goalscorer in the team. Liverpool messed up in the summer and left him marooned.

I know your post was made in November, and clairvoyance cannot be expected, but look at his performance against Queens Park Rangers on December 30, which was quite exceptional. Not just the stunning turn and straight run for the first goal, how about his contribution to the second

Steven Gerrard plays a long ball out of defence but slips as he strikes it, so it flies aimlessly into huge space on Rangers defensive left. Suarez then chases that lost cause, panicking the Rangers player who makes a hurried clearance, conceding possession.

From that, Liverpool hoof a long ball forward, Suarez wins the header and finds Stewart Downing, whose first touch is poor, but nobody has closed him down so gets another chance and plays Suarez in.

Suarez then drives into the penalty area, hits an excellent low cross which is blocked, the ball returns to him and he scores.

In that entire passage of play, the only quality contributions from either side are made by Suarez. Wonderful.

Race row: Suarez was banned for eight matches after being found guilty of abusing Patrice Evra in 2011

Race row: Suarez was banned for eight matches after being found guilty of abusing Patrice Evra in 2011

No issue in voting for Suarez. I have never seen him as a diver. I recall only one clear dive where he was getting kicked all about the pitch by some very innocent thug-like defenders. I put going over easy on an equally negative level with shirt pulling and elbows in the back of the head. HM, Dublin

Same here. Don’t necessarily agree about just a single dive from the man but I am inclined to side with a creative player over the negative one when exchanging vices.

Not helping: Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand when the pair met for the first time following the race row

Not helping: Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand when the pair met for the first time following the race row

He has
been associated with too much of football’s dark side, as you state,
because it is all journalists ever talk about. There is never any
mention of him being a loyal, decent family man, the amount of spare
time he has spent in South Africa and his charity work. Chris, Fife

This is Chris Rock’s argument about people wanting credit for stuff they
are supposed to do. Loyal family man Millionaire that gives to
charity What do you want, a cookie

Would Marouane Fellaini at Everton not be up there He dominates every time he is on the pitch. Hard-working, honest midfielder who seems to run games for fun. Barto7, Liverpool

Yes he would. Yet after the performance against Stoke City before Christmas and his ban, would some now say he should be excluded This is one of my points: nobody’s perfect.

Demolition derby: Everton defender Sylvain Distin was raging with Suarez for this challenge

Demolition derby: Everton defender Sylvain Distin was raging with Suarez for this challenge

Translation: the football writers’ Footballer of the Year is a popularity contest and therefore worthless. Gray, Liverpool

Translation: you find it hard to grasp some pretty simple concepts and may need to concentrate more. Thank heavens for our next poster.

………………………………………………………………………….

Treason is only a matter of timing, as
the saying goes. If Larkin and Pound were about today, producing their
works while espousing their views, it would take a huge effort to see
past the man and into the written word. Society would rightly condemn
them and probably, for the most part, ignore their work.

They've
benefited from the passing of time, and a society whose condemnations
are tempered, rightly or wrongly, by a sense of 'that's what it was like
back then'.

You don't have to be a role model to win Footballer of the
Year, but you do have to avoid being the kind of player Suarez is. He
might be good at football, but can you really brush the racist comment,
the very obvious diving and the catalogue of video evidence which shows
him being reckless in the challenge, under the carpet

His antics make
it too hard to separate the player from the man. Fats, London

Very hard to take issue with any of that, Fats. You are probably right
that modern sensibilities have changed thought processes and a
right-wing extremist in the arts would be marginalised.

I’m thinking of
the controversy that surrounded Morrissey when he toyed with nationalist
imagery a few years ago, or the reaction to the anti-gay lyrics of
reggae dancehall tracks like Boom /12/29/article-2254245-16AE5851000005DC-397_634x388.jpg” width=”634″ height=”388″ alt=”Tasty A Dutch paper branded Suarez the 'Cannibal of Ajax' after he bit PSV's Otman Bakkal during a game” class=”blkBorder” />

Tasty A Dutch paper branded Suarez the 'Cannibal of Ajax' after he bit PSV's Otman Bakkal during a game

The writer isn't saying Suarez shouldn't win it, he's saying that he won't – not because he thinks that he shouldn't, but because others think that he shouldn't. Tommy, Belfast

Thanks, Tommy, and I mean that. Would you be interested in providing a weekly translation service for the column It would really help some people: I’m particularly thinking Piers Morgan. And this next bloke.

………………………………………………………………………….

You say Suarez is the best player in the Premier League by a mile, yet you won't vote for him. That says more about you than it does about him. You're not voting for Footballer of the Year, your vote is going to someone you'd like to be mates with. Where is the merit in that
Rocky Soul, United Kingdom

Where does it say I wouldn’t vote for Suarez I said I’d find it hard, that’s all. As for being mates, is that how you think it works I voted for you, please be my friend. I’ve got friends. Nice friends. I didn’t get them by pressing a red button.

………………………………………………………………………….

Do you think Suarez would care about being Footballer of the Year, especially one voted for by the Fleet Street hacks who plague Twitter spreading their lies and bile Doubt it. He is a team player and all about Liverpool. He can be an idiot at times, but show me a top player who hasn’t been these days. Fowler1070, Liverpool

Oh, come on, I’m not having that. It doesn’t go with the territory that to succeed in football, or sport, ethical behaviour must go out of the window. Lionel Messi seems to do all right, or Juan Mata.

As for Twitter, I’m not on it mate. Never will be. With a name like Fowler1070, it sounds as if you are though. Apologies if I’m wrong.

At his best: Suarez scored a hat-trick against Norwich earlier this season

At his best: Suarez scored a hat-trick against Norwich earlier this season

The award is for best footballer, not best person. If Suarez was English the author would have a different view. Andrew, Bridgend

That’s not true, Andrew. If John Terry was a contender for Footballer of the Year I would have written exactly the same piece. But he’s not.

………………………………………………………………………….

So let's sum up the cons against Suarez. He once called Patrice Evra something inoffensive in Spanish-speaking countries, a year ago, and the Daily Mail claims diving is eliminated from football whenever Suarez is not on the pitch. You guys have built a silly hype around him and robbed yourselves of watching this fantastic talent due to a witch hunt. Reality Check, London

Get real. Without revisiting old ground what Suarez said is not inoffensive in Spanish-speaking countries; it depends on the context. And nobody is deprived of watching Suarez.

The whole article was in praise of him as a footballer, which suggests I take great pleasure in his ability. Indeed, to even flag up his potential to be Footballer of the Year is a tribute.

I think Suarez is a wonderful player. I couldn’t really have made that clearer. For the alternate view, however…

Goals galore: Suarez has been finding the net this season

One unsavory incident should exclude a player from receiving this award. To win Footballer of the Year, a player should have shown exemplary character aligned with superb footballing intellect. He should be technically superior to his peers, able to show discipline on the pitch and be an example to young players. Robbie G, Dunbar

Wow, let’s hope Mother Theresa has a left foot because if Robbie gets his way, she’ll be the only candidate next year.

Tough standards from our man from Dunbar and we’ll have to leave it there, I’m afraid.

Thank you to all who contributed, even though you didn’t know what you were contributing to at the time.

No doubt the views of Mr G will find favour with some inside the Football Writers’ Association, but if Suarez continues to play as he did at Loftus Road, this one will run and run.

Football Association tell referees to demand more respect

EXCLUSIVE: FA tell referees to demand more respect from players and coaches

|

UPDATED:

08:48 GMT, 1 January 2013

The FA have fired a New Year warning across football that their ailing Respect campaign must be stepped up.

A communique sent to clubs and referees – seen by Sportsmail – urges: 'Still a great deal of work to do.'

It is significant from the tone that match officials are expected to take a tougher line on dissent, and runs contrary to the leniency shown by referee Mike Dean when Sir Alex Ferguson laid into him and his team of officials on Boxing Day.

Hard line: The FA wants its officials to work closely with club captains to save its ailing Respect campaign

Hard line: The FA wants its officials to work closely with club captains to save its ailing Respect campaign

Referees have been reminded to draw captains into the front line of the battle against any shows of disrespect to officials, as they were instructed to do when the initiative started. Among the set of reinforced guidelines, referees are urged to:

Work with captains even if they are 'some way from an incident'Use captains in a 'more visible way'Deal firmly with dissent and 'not move away from it'.

So determined are FA chiefs to improve behaviour that they have even laid down what they call their Fair Play Handshake Protocol – which uses diagrams to show how teams should line-up for the pre-match ceremony.

Handshakes, or the lack of them, have damaged the Respect initiative amid the racism rows involving John Terry and Anton Ferdinand and Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra.

Tirade: Sir Alex Ferguson berated Mike Dean during Manchester United's win over Newcastle

Tirade: Sir Alex Ferguson berated Mike Dean during Manchester United's win over Newcastle

Visible: Referees should not shy away from dealing with dissent on the pitch

Visible: Referees should not shy away from dealing with dissent on the pitch

The FA have told referees and clubs that since its launch in 2008 Respect has 'generally been accepted very favourably' but that much has to be done to get it 'embedded in everyone's thinking including managers, players and referees'.

Captains such as controversial Chelsea skipper Terry are expected to take a higher profile to help officials 'manage the players and the game effectively'.

John Terry, talking to Mark Halsey. will be expected to take a higher profile role with referees

John Terry, talking to Mark Halsey. will be expected to take a higher profile role with referees

Terry hasn't always enjoyed a good relationship with officials. Here he is beckoning Sportsmail's Graham Poll before his retirement.

Terry hasn't always enjoyed a good relationship with officials. Here he is beckoning Sportsmail's Graham Poll before his retirement.

But the onus is mostly on the referees who, say the FA, need to 'play a leading role' to ensure that 'the authority and respect for match officials is reinforced'.

They are also warned not to back away from confrontation but to 'stay and deal with it' by cautioning offenders.

Involved: Club captains such as Vincent Kompany (right) are expected to help officials 'manage the players and the game effectively'

Involved: Club captains such as Vincent Kompany (right) are expected to help officials 'manage the players and the game effectively'

Phil Taylor hints he could quit darts after world championship final

Is the Power going out Tired Taylor hints he could be ready to take his final bow on the oche

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 31 December 2012

They may have been the words of a tired and cold-ridden man, but Phil Taylor threatened that he could be playing the final match of a darts career without equal at Alexandra Palace.

The Power, who takes on Holland’s new wonderkid Michael van Gerwen in the final of the Ladbrokes.com PDC World Championship, was disgusted by his behaviour after semi-final victory over Raymond van Barneveld on Sunday night.

An emotional Taylor mistook a Van Barneveld handshake for a provocative gesture and acted aggressively towards his friend and long-time rival in a sour finale to a thrilling match.

Shout bout: Phil Taylor and Raymond Van Barneveld clash on Sunday

Shout bout: Phil Taylor and Raymond Van Barneveld clash on Sunday

Ashamed: Taylor has apologised for his behaviour

Ashamed: Taylor has apologised for his behaviour

Disagreement: Taylor and Van Barneveld exchanged words as they left the stage

Disagreement: Taylor and Van Barneveld exchanged words as they left the stage

Tale of the tape

Taylor said: ‘I’m ashamed of myself and I feel terrible. I’ve texted Raymond and spoken to him and there is nothing else I can do, only apologise for it. It will never happen again.

‘I don’t care about darts at the minute. I know I’m in the final but I don’t feel excited or chuffed about it. I feel very down. I could just walk away tomorrow night and retire — go out on top. I’m a bit disillusioned about everything. Obviously I’m not feeling very well and I need a break.

‘To put the record straight, Raymond is a very strong lad and when he shook my hand and pulled me he hurt me a little bit. That was all it was and I reacted disgracefully.

Whatever the PDC decide, chuck the book at me, they can do whatever they want. I’m ashamed because I really like Raymond. It’s upset me.’

Is this the end Taylor was pushed all the way by Van Barneveld and says he needs a break

Is this the end Taylor was pushed all the way by Van Barneveld and says he needs a break

Winning feeling: Taylor shows his emotion after winning the semi-final

Winning feeling: Taylor shows his emotion after winning the semi-final

Whether or not Taylor is serious about retirement, he is not underestimating the task facing him if he is to claim a 16th world title tonight. Van Gerwen has been the star of this World Championship, bullying his opponents into submission with a scoring ability only Taylor has ever attained on a consistent basis.

Taylor added: ‘I’ve not seen a dart player like Michael in all my career. Only myself really. I think he’s the next one. His scoring, passion, his will to win, his aggression, Michael’s got the full package.

‘He’s phenomenal. He’s different to all the players I’ve seen and I’ve seen nearly four generations of players. Pretender to my crown He’s no pretender. For me to beat him is going to take a lot of concentration and a lot of effort. I can do it but it’s going to take a lot. I had a 109 average and lost to him the other week, but I can get him.’

The man of the moment: Michael van Gerwen is a player in form

The man of the moment: Michael van Gerwen is a player in form

Champion in waiting Van Gerwen beat two time champion Adrian Lewis and James Wade on the way to the final

Champion in waiting Van Gerwen beat two time champion Adrian Lewis and James Wade on the way to the final

Van Gerwen was just nine months old when Taylor claimed his first world title in 1990. Remarkably, he didn’t pick up a set of darts until he was 13, playing with friends at their homes in Boxtel, a small town near Eindhoven in southern Holland.

He turned professional four years later in 2006, recording a televised nine-dart finish and winning the World Masters at the age of 17. He has never been a respecter of reputations.

Van Gerwen said: ‘I don’t like watching darts. Even now, most of the times I don’t bother. I played Phil for the first time when I was 17. I knew nothing about him before that. It would be great if I could become world champion 10 years after playing for the first time.’

Manchester City mascot confused during Sunderland handshake

VIDEO: What's going on City mascot confused during Sunderland handshake

|

UPDATED:

16:16 GMT, 27 December 2012

Flashbulbs, television cameras, tens of thousands of people, household names and an unforgettable afternoon.

Well, who wouldn’t want to miss their chance of soaking up the atmosphere, especially when you’re a Manchester City mascot

This young man will have probably spent hours every weekend watching Premier League action, including the traditional handshakes before each kick-off.

But sometimes the dazzling nature and anticipation of a top flight clash can make you forget the rituals.

Forget, that is, until a friendly hair-ruffling from the opposition’s Carlos Cuellar brings you back down to earth.

Scroll down for video

confused kid

confused kid

confused kid

confused kid

Leeds 1 Chelsea 5: match report

Leeds 1 Chelsea 5: Five-star Blues hammer rivals to book semi-final spot in League Cup

|

UPDATED:

07:45 GMT, 20 December 2012

Semi-final draw…

Chelsea v Swansea

Bradford v Aston Villa

Click HERE for more details

At full time, there was a wink to John Terry alongside him and a handshake for every one of the staff sitting on the bench at a sodden Elland Road.

Even in moments of great triumph, Rafa Benitez has rarely been a man for expansive gestures. Deep down, though, there must have been a sense of satisfaction and indeed vindication.

Satisfaction with a performance that will have convinced the Spaniard his players are improving and are beginning to buy into his steady, pragmatic style.

And vindication at a decision he took to play seven of the players who started Sunday’s Club World Cup final in Japan.

All smiles: Torres was on target as Chelsea put the Championship side to the sword at Elland Road

All smiles: Torres was on target as Chelsea put the Championship side to the sword at Elland Road

Match Facts

Leeds: Ashdown, /12/19/article-0-169664EB000005DC-45_634x304.jpg” width=”634″ height=”304″ alt=”Head boy: Ivanovic scored Chelsea's second goal from a corner to give the away side the lead ” class=”blkBorder” />

Head boy: Ivanovic scored Chelsea's second goal from a corner to give the away side the lead

Head boy: Ivanovic scored Chelsea's second goal from a corner to give the away side the lead

Then Leeds — who had played their part at this point — broke to score a brilliant goal that gave the home team an unlikely lead and brought the game to life.

Brown then crumbled under what he
claimed was a shoulder from Mata and the constant niggling started to
dominate proceedings as, away from that, the action consisted of Ashdown
shovelling behind a Moses shot.

It was another Moses effort, again pushed away by Ashdown, that got football back on the agenda, with Leeds restricted to trying to feed on the scaps of Becchio's knockdowns.

Juan-1: Mata equalised for the Premier League side shortly after the interval

Juan-1: Mata equalised for the Premier League side shortly after the interval

As has been the case before, Chelsea
defender David Luiz made a crucial mistake that was born of
over-confidence as his attempt to chip the ball over Sam /12/19/article-0-16965776000005DC-288_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”Luciano Becchio” class=”blkBorder” />

Luciano Becchio

Sealed with a kiss: Becchio handed Leeds the opener after a well-worked move shortly before half-time

In the dressing rooms at half-time,
the messages would have been simple. Chelsea needed a foothold while
Leeds needed 10 minutes of calm. Sadly for Leeds and their goalkeeper
Ashdown, the crucial contribution was to be his.

The 32-year-old had looked
impressively secure in the first half but how he allowed Mata’s weak
shot to trundle under his outstretched right arm 65 seconds into the
second perhaps he himself may not really know.

His manager was admirably sanguine
afterwards. ‘We won’t blame him,’ said Warnock. ‘If you are a goalkeeper
you can’t get away with a single mistake.’

Rafael Benitez

Neil Warnock

Contrasting views: Benitez will be pleased with his side's display while Warnock is likely to be disappointed the hosts' second-half performance

In the dressing rooms at half-time, the messages would have been simple. Chelsea needed a foothold while Leeds needed 10 minutes of calm. Sadly for Leeds and their goalkeeper Ashdown, the crucial contribution was to be his.

The 32-year-old had looked impressively secure in the first half but how he allowed Mata’s weak shot to trundle under his outstretched right arm 65 seconds into the second perhaps he himself may not really know.

His manager was admirably sanguine afterwards. ‘We won’t blame him,’ said Warnock. ‘If you are a goalkeeper you can’t get away with a single mistake.’

Nevertheless, the importance of Ashdown’s error cannot be overlooked. It changed the complexion of the game and within 15 minutes Chelsea had taken the tie away from their opponents.

Net gains: Moses adds another goal for the visitors after latching on to Mata's flick

Net gains: Moses adds another goal for the visitors after latching on to Mata's flick

A half-chance in the Chelsea goalmouth almost gave Leeds another fillip as a cross flashed across Petr Cech’s goal, but before long Warnock’s team were punished for slack defending at a corner as Branislav Ivanovic was able to head his team ahead at the near post.

With confidence restored, Chelsea galloped away and played some expressive football as Leeds tired and ran out of adrenaline.

Mata was Chelsea’s best player but Moses was impressive, too, and he exploited the space afforded him by his team-mate’s decoy run to move forward and drive a low shot past Ashdown with his right foot from 25 yards.

Impressive: Victor Moses was a constant thorn in the Leeds United defence and got his reward with a goal in the 66th minute

Impressive: Victor Moses was a constant thorn in the Leeds United defence and got his reward with a goal

It was a finish of Premier League quality and, in the final 10 minutes, there was more to come.

Luiz, an impressive footballer when he has the time he needs, played a pass as perfect as the one in the first half had been stupid to release substitute Eden Hazard and the Belgium forward sprinted goalwards to score with some comfort.

Then, at the death, there was a goal for Fernando Torres, who picked up the pieces close to goal after Ashdown had parried a Frank Lampard shot. Benitez will note that Torres has now scored six goals in his last five games.

For Leeds, the night ended in anti-climax and it is sad that we will not be here for a big night again for quite a while. They are missed.

Warnock still has a major job to do at Elland Road, though. In west London, Benitez’s has grown marginally easier.

Goals: Fernando Toress (centre) got his 13th goal of the season and his sixth in the last five games

Goals: Fernando Toress (centre) got his 13th goal of the season and his sixth in the last five games

John Higgins hits 147 but loses to Mark Davis

Higgins hits 147 but suffers agonising defeat to Davis in UK Championship

|

UPDATED:

00:18 GMT, 6 December 2012

John Higgins fired the seventh maximum break of his career but it was small consolation as he bowed out to Mark Davis after a thrilling contest in round two of the williamhill.com UK Championship.

Davis won 6-5, having looked to have blown his chance when he led 5-2 but allowed Higgins back to 5-5.

A lifeline came his way though when Higgins, seemingly on a victory charge, missed the pink. Davis got it, and that was enough. He will take on Matthew Stevens in the quarter-finals.

Spot on: John Higgins after scoring a 147 during his second round match

Spot on: John Higgins after scoring a 147 during his second round match

'I'm gutted. Normally clearing up in the last frame I'd have done it,' Higgins said. 'I didn't deserve to win that match. Who knows where the 147 came from'

The four-time world champion initially looked a beaten man when Davis pulled to within a frame of victory with back-to-back breaks of 106 and 103.

A comeback by the Wishaw man was fired by the 147 in the eighth frame, bringing the crowd at York's Barbican Centre to their feet and rousing the 37-year-old Scot who earns 10,000 for his effort.

Higgins got back to 5-5 but again looked to be heading out as 40-year-old Hastings potter Davis built a 53-0 lead in the deciding frame.

There was a twist, as Davis missed a difficult red to centre that gave Higgins a half chance. In went a brilliant long red to the yellow pocket, and he reached 49, the pink seemingly a formality with the black surely to follow.

Through: Mark Davis recovered to beat Higgins and progress in York

Through: Mark Davis recovered to beat Higgins and progress in York

Somehow Higgins missed, and after a safety tussle he left Davis a difficult cut to the yellow pocket, which he made quite brilliantly. It was the ball he required, and Higgins rose from his chair to offer a congratulatory handshake.

Delighted winner Davis said: “I didn't expect John to miss the pink but he wasn't just rolling it in. It was a tough shot under pressure.

'It gave me another chance which in the end I managed to take. I was going for doubles and all sorts in the end. It was like the 1985 World Championship final.'

Asked where it ranked in his victories, Davis said: 'This is at the top. I've not got a good record against John at all. It's my best result for a very long time.'

Chelsea on alert as Hulk casts doubt over Zenit future with strop at late substitution

Don't make him angry! One-time Chelsea target Hulk casts doubt over Zenit future with strop at late substitution

|

UPDATED:

00:25 GMT, 5 December 2012

They say you shouldn't make Hulk mad for fear he might turn green and rip his clothes off.

But that was the risk Zenit St Petersburg manager Luciano Spalletti took during his side's Champions League win over AC Milan. And it could spell the end of a desperately disappointing stint in Russia for the Brazilian.

The powerful striker was substituted with 10 minutes left at the San Siro but greeted his boss' decision with a monstrous strop which left Spalletti fuming.

Scroll down for video of the exchange between Hulk and Spalletti

Temper temper: Hulk refused his manager's handshake and then gestured angrily towards him after being substituted late on in Zenit's win at AC Milan

Temper temper: Hulk refused his manager's handshake and then gestured angrily towards him after being substituted late on in Zenit's win at AC Milan

Temper temper: Hulk refused his manager's handshake and then gestured angrily towards him after being substituted late on in Zenit's win at AC Milan

After first ignoring his manager's offer a handshake, Hulk then made a crossing action with his arm repeatedly, suggesting that he would not tolerate any more at the club.

Spalletti responded with a cutting stare, shake of the head and finger waving while the player continued his protests.

And afterwards, the player said: 'If situation with Spalletti is not solved, in January I will leave .'

Hulk has endured a torrid time at Zenit since his 39.5million switch from Porto in September.

His arrival sparked an angry reaction from the first team squad, angry at the wages being lavished upon the 26-year-old. So unpopular was the move that captain Igor Denisov went public and earned a demotion to the youth team.

The episode in Italy could reignite Chelsea's interest the player, who was tracked closely by the Premier League giants before he opted for Russia.

Hulk, who also interested Tottenham during the summer, moved to Porto from Japanese side Tokyo Verdy in 2008, grabbing 54 goals in 103 league matches. He has 13 Brazil caps.

Tough times: Hulk is having a torrid spell in Russia since his 39m switch

Tough times: Hulk is having a torrid spell in Russia since his 39m switch

Zenit's 1-0 win secured a place in the Europa League.

Manager Spalletti said: 'The lads played well and deserved to win even though it was a bit of a nervous game. I'm happy to have qualified and happy with tonight's game as in the past two years we haven't won away from home, even when we've played well.

'I'd like to say a huge thank you to our fans tonight, as even I was stunned at the number who were here. Their number and enthusiasm tonight gives us extra responsibility.

'We have to work hard for them as they deserve it. Maybe a draw would have been a fairer result as we had to defend a lot, but we have to be happy, we're through. We'll try to do better.'

Arsene Wenger deserves respect, not offensive songs – Ian Ladyman

Vile and unfunny: Wenger deserves our respect, not offensive songs which shame the English game

|

UPDATED:

01:27 GMT, 5 November 2012

Vile chants: Wenger

Vile chants: Wenger

As Arsene Wenger set off down the touchline towards the Old Trafford tunnel at full time on Saturday, his old nemesis Sir Alex Ferguson set off after him.

With the help of a brief jog Ferguson got there just as the two men disappeared from view. No doubt a handshake and some commiseration followed. It had been an afternoon without consolation for the Arsenal manager.

One wonders too, though, whether Ferguson also felt the need to apologise on behalf of those supporters who had subjected Wenger to a new and not particularly clever line of abuse at several points during the preceding game.

To some at Old Trafford, Wenger has always been a “paedophile”.

Referring to some ridiculous internet
rumours that circled when Wenger took over at Highbury in 1996, the
Arsenal manager hears it every time he stands on the touchline at
Manchester United’s stadium.

‘Sit down you paedophile’ is how it goes. Charming. On Saturday the song had been updated.

‘Are you Savile in disguise’ was the question asked of Wenger by the vocal minority. It was a song also sung by some West Ham fans during Arsenal’s recent visit to Upton Park.

While at least providing some proof that even the idiots can read newspapers, the song will have embarrassed and irritated Ferguson.

The United manager’s attitude towards Wenger has not always been consistent over a decade and a half of rivalry. There isn’t a friendship and there never will be. He has, however, made his objections to the mistreatment at Old Trafford of one of the great modern managers very clear over the years.

Floored: Arsenal were well beaten at Old Trafford

Floored: Arsenal were well beaten at Old Trafford

Ferguson has spoken of it in press conferences. He has written about it in the matchday programme. He has even sent letters to the homes of season-ticket holders.

He and his football club have made it admirably apparent that they find the whole thing unacceptable and offensive. Sadly, none of it has worked.

Old foe: Ferguson

Old foe: Ferguson

That much was clear on Saturday afternoon at Old Trafford and indeed in Manchester city centre afterwards, as the song was repeated by groups of drinkers enjoying their weekly evening out a little too much.

The subject of what is appropriate and what is not when it comes to behaviour at football matches is moot. There has, at times, been some over-reaction in the media to some of the subjects that are turned into song on a Saturday afternoon.

Songs about building bonfires and signing on at job centres are as established and familiar as they are largely harmless.

Nobody wishes to turn a visit to Old
Trafford, Anfield or indeed the Emirates into an experience akin to a
trip to the theatre. The edge, humour and depth of feeling that has
always characterised an afternoon at an English football stadium has
already been threatened by seated stadiums, rising ticket prices and
peculiar kick-off times.

It is, however, hard to defend the defamatory and offensive rubbish that Wenger has to deal with every time he steps off the team bus at Old Trafford. Paedophilia, after all, is not very funny.

On Saturday it wasn’t just the United supporters who were culpable. No doubt they will be quick to point this out.

From the away section came the chant: ‘You’re just a Dutch Jimmy Savile.’ This one was aimed at United striker Robin van Persie, a player formally of Arsenal and once arrested – and never charged – on suspicion of rape back in Holland.

Hero to villain: Van Persie (left) was also on the receiving end of mindless chants

Hero to villain: Van Persie (left) was also on the receiving end of mindless chants

That was seven years ago but memories are long in football when it suits the cause.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand briefly referred to the subject in a post-match interview on Saturday. He accused the Arsenal fans of having no class but then appeared to backtrack a little, referring to the songs as ‘banter’.

Maybe Van Persie is able to dismiss it just as glibly. Maybe Wenger is, too. It’s doubtful, though.

Wenger, we should note, is 63 now. He has served Arsenal admirably over the years he has worked in north London and his influence on English football and the development and growth of the Barclays Premier League should be clear even to those who are happy to deride him each weekend.

Wenger is more than a football coach. He is a man who has done much to shape our sport in its modern form. Frankly, he deserves better. Ferguson understands this. Why can’t everyone else