The FA have confirmed that Everton keeper Jordan Pickford will not be facing any further charges for his controversial tackle on Virgil Van Dijk in Saturday’s derby.
As I wrote in the match review, Pickford’s challenge was a stupid, reckless one and being totally honest should probably have been a red card. It was an open question afterwards whether or not the Everton and England goalkeeper would be retrospectively charged by the FA.
Well today football’s governing body have confirmed that Pickford won’t be facing any punishment after all as they consider the incident to have been seen by the referee and the VAR officials so there is no basis for any further action.
With that and the Jordan Henderson goal that was ruled out for a marginal offside call, it proved a very controversial game even by the standards of these fixtures.
Since Saturday’s game, social media and newspaper comment sections have been awash with tit-for-tat between Everton and Liverpool fans over how bad the tackle was and what should or shouldn’t happen now.
It’s highly amusing to see Reds supporters whose club has for so long been the beneficiaries of dodgy or highly marginal decisions by officialdom, going on endlessly as if they are the first and only ones to be hard done by! Some people have pretty short memories.
Just last season the Blues were on the wrong end of a host of terrible VAR decisions. One such was the Brighton game away when Micheal Keane, accidentally stepped back onto the heal of a Brighton player and VAR determined it was a penalty even though the referee hadn’t done so.
Then there was the Delle Alli handball incident when Tottenham played the Toffees at Goodison Park. Alli committed handball from a set-piece and this time it wasn’t given in Everton’s favour.
Returning to derbies, let’s go back a bit further to a derby game back in 2000 when in the dying seconds of a drab goalless match, Liverpool keeper Sander Westerveld kicked the ball and it hit Blues midfielder Don Hutchison on the back and the ball rebounded toward the Liverpool goal.
The referee watched it head into the net and then blew for full-time as the ball crossed the line. How timely that decision was.. for Liverpool!
Or how about even further back in history to the eighties when the Toffees were on the wrong end of dodgy decisions in two derby cup finals that proved crucial.
In the first, the 1984 Milk Cup final, Everton had a good claim early on for a penalty when Alan Hansen handled on the goal line, but it wasn’t given by the referee Alan Robinson. The match finished 0-0 and the Blues lost the replay 1-0.
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Then two years later the clubs lined up for the first All-Merseyside FA cup final with Liverpool chasing the double, while for Everton it was pride and a chance to even the score after they had been pipped to the title by their neighbours.
In their endless wisdom the FA again choose Robinson as the referee for this game so obviously nothing in the Reds favour there then!
In the first half Everton were on top and had another very good shout for a spot kick when Liverpool defender Steve Nicol cynically cut down his fellow-Scot, Blues centre-forward Graeme Sharp in the box. It was a crystal clear penalty but again it wasn’t awarded by Robinson.
It’s always speculative, but had the Toffees been two up at half-time following Gary Lineker’s later strike, I think that would have been game over. As it was they weren’t and Liverpool recovered to win 3-1 in the end.
The point of all this increasingly ancient history, is to remind us that there are controversial decisions in football all the time and they go back right to the start of the game. As Evertonians we’ve had to stomach more than our fair share over the years.