Save criticism for Rafael, not Luiz
Sir Alex Ferguson accused David Luiz of 'rolling about like a dying swan' in Chelsea's win at Manchester United on Saturday, suggesting his reaction to Rafael's retaliatory kick 'convinced' Howard Webb to brandish the red card.
He may well be right. Sian Massey was seen mouthing 'yellow card please' to Webb following the incident, and there is every chance the referee would have taken his assistant's advice had Luiz not remained on the ground in apparent agony.
It is a form of gamesmanship that upsets a lot of people in this country, myself included. Oscar waving an imaginary card also got onlookers hot under the collar, not least Ryan Giggs.
However, although play acting is something that ought to be punished more often, there should be no sympathy whatsoever for Rafael. He kicked out at Luiz with the ball long gone simply because Manchester United were losing and he could not shake his fellow Brazilian off the ball.
Contrary to Ferguson's claims, Luiz did not 'quite clearly elbow Rafael twice', he merely used his body strength, legitimately, to shield the ball. It was excellent defending.
Furthermore, his smile after being kicked that has caused so much fuss was clearly in response to something said to him by a supporter in the crowd.
But, no matter what anyone's verdict of Luiz's actions are, it does not excuse Rafael's retaliation.
There is no excuse for kicking out at an opponent with the ball gone and, even if you believe a yellow card would have been a fairer punishment, there's no denying Rafael has only himself to blame for the three-game suspension he will now serve.
It was stupid, it was petulant and it was indefensible, yet criticism since the game, from Ferguson and most other onlookers, has been focused on the player that was kicked. It's quite bizarre.
Grappling complaints cost Anichebe a goal
Football fans and commentators in this country seem to be constantly confused. Referees, for example, are asked to be consistent yet show common sense - it is impossible to do both - while the reaction to the Rafael incident proves many are torn on whether violent conduct or simulation is a bigger crime, perhaps depending on the teams and players involved.
The pushing and shoving that goes on in penalty areas is something else that few people seem able to make their minds up on.
When it goes unpunished there are extremely vociferous complaints from those that insist it is not part of the game - yet many of the same people cry foul when goals are ruled out for the very offence.
I pointed this out earlier in the season. A lot of people tried to justify Marouane Fellaini's headbutt on Ryan Shawcross because of the holding in the box he was subjected to - judging also by the reaction to the Rafael incident, it seems like retaliation is deemed acceptable by many - yet there were complaints after Everton's very next game when they had a goal disallowed for Victor Anichebe's holding of West Ham goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
The same player was involved in another controversial incident in Sunday's Merseyside derby.
Already warned once by referee Michael Oliver for pushing Jose Enrique, Anichebe was penalised for further pushing once the corner had been taken. Predictably, there have been plenty of complaints.
The goal should have stood in my opinion, but then I have always remained consistent in my belief that the majority of penalty-area jostling is part of the game.
Those that insist it is not cannot have it both ways. Anichebe undoubtedly did push Enrique once the corner had been taken so, to the people who are anti any sort of physical contact, there should be no argument against the referee's decision.
Again, which players and teams are involved in these incidents seems to play a part in how they are judged afterwards.
The bottom line is this: pushing, pulling and holding are tricks that defenders and attackers are equally adept at, and only in exceptional circumstances in which a player has clearly been prevented from getting to a ball does action need to be taken.
Unfortunately it is the constant complaining about every slight push and pull this season that has led to perfectly legitimate goals like Everton's being ruled out.
Gerrard lucky to escape punishment
Steven Gerrard was picked up quite clearly on television calling the referee some rather choice words on Sunday, yet he escaped punishment.
Anichebe, however, was booked for dissent after complaining about his disallowed goal.
There is much sympathy shown towards referees about the way they are spoken to and often surrounded by footballers, yet they do not do themselves any favours by allowing certain players to get away with more than others.
The bigger teams in the Premier League, in my opinion, are the worst in the league when it comes to haranguing referees, yet they seem to be punished far less for such offences.
Do the likes of Michael Oliver want to keep on the good side of superstars like Gerrard? It certainly seems that way.
If referees want to be shown respect, they need to punish dissent from all players.
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