Liverpool supporters spent much of yesterday’s Merseyside derby wondering how Everton’s Ross Barkley managed to complete the game without getting himself sent off. The young midfielder made an early declaration of intent by clattering Emre Can, and then probably should have seen a red card before half-time following a wild and dangerous challenge on Dejan Lovren.
It was a performance that even his manager struggled to defend, with Ronald Koeman conceding during his post-match press conference that “maybe [Barkley] deserved two yellows.” So perhaps it’s somewhat understandable that Koeman sought to divert some of the attention around those tackles to the real villains in this piece: Liverpool’s coaching staff.
“If I watch the bench of Liverpool, and one coach on the bench – not the manager but one of the coaches – it looks like the referee would have to show eight red cards to Everton. Please behave a little bit more.”
This was actually a somewhat more tempered take on the affair by Koeman, no doubt the result of having a several more minutes to compose himself before the press conference. The Everton manager’s irritation was even more visible in the immediate aftermath of the defeat, when he was asked about the tackles and some testy exchanges with Jürgen Klopp and company.
“We don't make a show like the bench of Liverpool about faults, what happened on the pitch. We're different, we're more into the game and not about what happened with referees, linesmen and tackles. It's football, it was a hard but fair game and that's football.
I don't like coaches from the bench the whole time shouting to referees, to linesmen and to make a big show about tackles... yes it was one tackle and they were crazy, and they didn’t even need a physio on the pitch. It's not what I like, it's a man’s sport and your behavior has to be like that.”
Yikes. It’s one thing to have a selective memory during a press conference in order to protect a vulnerable player, and it’s quite another to trot out the old retrograde “man’s sport” justification. It’s clear Koeman was not in the best of moods following the derby defeat. Given that Everton’s next match will be a visit to José Mourinho at Old Trafford, we might be in for a few more managerial hot takes this week.