Moss Dross – Liverpool 2 Spurs 2

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It was the strangest game I’ve seen at Anfield in years.

I left the ground utterly unable to form a coherent feeling about what I’d just witnessed and if you can manage to tear down any innate tribalism from your system and are still ravaged by several conflicting emotions, you know you’ve been to an odd match.

Let’s go through those thoughts. Firstly, Tottenham did not deserve to lose that game. Oh, it would have been glorious to walk away with the points but they would have deserved better. They kept the Reds hemmed in for much of the second half and danced around our box for tens of minutes and not many people can come to our ground and do that. Tottenham are a very good side indeed. That needs saying.

Equally, Liverpool didn’t really deserve the three points. We played well up to a point but then sank deeper and deeper as Spurs asserted dominance. Our lads just couldn’t get away from our own 18-yard line and when we could it was only a matter of seconds before they won it back and were in our faces again. Space was the main issue and, at one point there was sixty yards between the midfield – such as it was in the second half – and our forwards.

Ordinarily, you can’t expect one lad to play up front against three players and expect him to score, but this was Mo Salah and he can do things that no ordinary footballer can. We were so close too. Liverpool were seconds away from what looked like an unlikely victory.

So a draw was probably the fairest result, yeah?

I was furious with a draw. We all were.

But, of course, the game was not decided by the teams, but one man and his assistant.

Ron Atkinson once said after a game, ‘I never comment on referees and I refuse to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat.’ I’m with him on that. After all, blaming the ref usually comes with a taste of sour grapes and I’d like to think I’m fair. If we’ve been beaten fairly then most of us are prepared to look to ourselves first before the officials.

Oh, there are exceptions. In the opening game of the 2009-10 season, I saw Phil Dowd give Spurs a throw-in just so he could point out to Jamie Carragher that he could and there was nothing he could do about it. It was a decision so confusing that the Tottenham lad asked him twice if he was serious about the award.

Then there’s Lee Mason and his unusual brand of justice while Uriah Rennie looked like one of those kids who always got the lead role in the school play despite a frightening lack of talent, but whose parents know the head teacher.

But yesterday was the first time I’ve ever seen a ref ask for the opinion of a man who was standing behind him and then ask his mate what the telly said. That man decided the result of a Liverpool v Tottenham game. A game between two of the biggest sides in the land.

Here’s another thing. I don’t like football conspiracy theories. ‘Warm balls’ in UEFA draws etc. aren’t for me, but did anyone notice the little Tim Henman fist pump from the linesman when the penalty was awarded? That was weird.

And it wasn’t just the ref’s actions in those final minutes. Jon Moss (not the former drummer of 80s band Culture Club incidentally – much to my girlfriend’s disappointment and annoyance) didn’t just shit it for those decisions. He was woefully inept for both sides throughout the game. I may be wrong but I noted that the clock when he finally gave Liverpool a 50/50 decision. 31 minutes.

It’s almost as if he thought Salah’s second goal seemed a little cruel on the away team and he thought about levelling it up should one of their lads go down and raise an arm in protest.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not apportioning blame to Spurs as such (though someone needs a word with Dele Alli). I was near the Main Stand/Annie Rd corner flag at the time and their supporters were as confused as we were come the end. They too stood in silence, gamely trying to work out what the hell Moss and his linesman were doing. It turns out they were deciding who should win the game.

And it made me wonder how that must have felt for the managers. After all, they’d worked on their strategies through the week, chosen their sides and deployed their men as best they could. Jurgen Klopp chose to give Spurs the ball and tried to hit them on the break. Pochettino preferred to push his men wide whenever possible and then to push the Liverpool midfield onto the centre-backs. To do all that and then leave it to a man who needed to ask for a telly to make a decision…

Personally, I’d prefer it if those men and their charges settled the game. Not a man with a whistle and an inflated sense of his own worth.

Still, there’s nothing we can do about it now. We’ve held Spurs off and, what with Chelsea imploding recently; it’s not been a bad week for the Reds. It just could have been more.

Just that little bit more.

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  1. Its not him being a dope its him helping utd stay in 2 nd …Get some stats on 50/50 decisions on all utd games and all lfc games for each of the last 20 seasons ..its corners throw ins free kicks penalties offside just enough to swing a match..former utd board member on fa panel and now eufa panel…needs to be investigated all that fergie time all that bullshit .

  2. Thank you for a very balanced article. As A spurs fan I felt similarly to you in regard to mixed emotions. Had we lost the game (which I thought we had) I would have been disappointed but not aggrieved. Had we won it I would have been elated but would have felt somewhat lucky.

    A previous person comments about the ratio of penalties for each club, and seems a bit annoyed with your views. It seems to me you point out clearly you are not blaming Spurs for decisions made by officials but you are pointing out some, lets say anomalies, in the decisions made by such officials. I agree. The MotD microphone caught the conversation between ref and linesman and it all seemed bizarre to me.

    One thing we are all agreed on here – the current form of Chelsea is a real bonus.

  3. Out of all the Liverpool fan blogs claiming injustice over this game, finally a balanced article. A draw is a fair result. Liverpool deserving their lead at HT and Spurs coming back into it and dominating the majority of the second half.

  4. Wow, you start by saying you don’t believe in conspiracy theories, and then you proceed to ask how many more decisions have been given to Utd than Liverpool over the past 20yrs, I’m guessing you’ve forgotten the two decades of Liverpool dominance and claims of referees always giving decisions Liverpool’s way. You mention the ‘odd’ decisions made by Moss, and the fist pump by the linesman, implying they, no , saying they wanted to change the result of the game, that is nonsense. The issue with Moss asking for the opinion of the fourth official was certainly misguided, and if he wasn’t sure he shouldn’t have given the penalty, which Kane ultimately missed, no damage done then. The fist pump by the assistant referee was certainly inadvisable, but to just say weird, implies you think there was more to it, conspiracies abound. The answer is probably far more mundane, as it was a moment where he was probably happy and relieved that he’d seen something, stood his ground and been listened to by Moss, which is how it should be. I like many, didn’t understand the change in the laws of the game re the first penalty, which I’m guessing a lot more of us do now, but it was a legitimate penalty, irrespective of the poor way in which Moss dealt with it. The second decision was also legitimate, as Van Dijk clearly made contact with Lamela. Was Lamela was offside for the last penalty, yes, but it was very marginal and difficult to spot, I cannot blame the officials for that whether it’s for my team or against. Both penalty decisions have subsequently been analysed by a number of ex officials, and the consensus is that the decisions were correct, so why all the fuss and implied conspiracy theories? In the end both teams produced what was a fantastic game of football, in which a draw was in my view a fair result.

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