Let’s be honest. Expecting Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez to shake hands so soon after their recent bad blood was always going to end badly. It took less than two minutes on the pitch together for the rivals to re-ignite their feud.
Evra was prepared to shake the Liverpool striker’s hand, but Suarez was having none of it. The football world had waited all week to see how the moment would play out, and Evra was livid at the snub.
He grabbed at his rival’s arm, as teammates moved quickly to settle the situation.
Then, inside the first 30 seconds of the match, Suarez chased a ball that was a little too far in front of him and Evra launched into a reckless challenge.
Instead of collecting Suarez he collided heavily with teammate Rio Ferdinand, who collapsed to the ground in agony.
It was a red mist moment.
Add to that a reported scuffle in the tunnel at half time, and then Evra’s deliberate celebrations right in front of Suarez after the game, and you have a whole lot of friction in the current season, and an ugly outing for football in the history books.
The two managers didn’t cover themselves in glory either. Sir Alex Ferguson labelled Suarez a disgrace, and Kenny Dalglish claimed he didn’t see the handshake snub before questioning whether reporters had the right to ask him about it.
Ugly, ugly, ugly all round.
Despite all of the drama, just about everyone in Manchester colours claimed the situation could’ve been avoided if Suarez and Evra had buried the hatchet before kick-off.
But was that ever really going to happen?
On one side you have Evra, who feels he was racially abused by Suarez when the pair last played against each other in the Premier League. It’s an unacceptable act anywhere from the football field to the street. Evra has every right to feel annoyed, hurt and just about any other emotion. He should also be commended for trying to let proceedings go as planned.
It’s a complicated situation though. On the other side you have Suarez who denies ever racially abusing Evra. He has been backed up by a club who also denies he abused the Frenchman.
Say what you will about cultural differences, and what was or wasn’t said during their last meeting, but the fall-out was predictable. It was a confrontation between two men, and the evidence boiled down to one’s word against another.
The outcome was that Suarez served eight matches and had his reputation ripped to shreds. Why then would you make these two try and shake hands in front of the world?
The pre-game handshake should’ve been cancelled.
Recently, officials decided to get rid of the tradition when Chelsea took on Queens Park Rangers. Chelsea captain John Terry had been accused of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.
It was the right move to avoid the handshake then, and it would’ve been the right move at the weekend. Would you really miss the handshake if it was binned for good?
Yes, Suarez should’ve extended his hand. It was a silly response that inflamed things past the point of common sense. But putting both men in that situation in the first place was equally ridiculous.