Saturday’s marquee match against Manchester City will not be one for the highlight reels. While early signs for Liverpool were good, the team conceded the first goal after 24 minutes, and then Sadio Mané was shown a straight red card for a studs up high boot against the Manchester City goalkeeper, Ederson.
Controversy has raged in the hours since that huge, game-changing decision was made. Was that truly a red card by the letter of the law, or should it have been a yellow instead?
It’s hard to see a player take a boot to the face and not jump straight to a red card, especially when said player needs to be stretchered off the pitch. Referee Jon Moss had no qualms about immediately producing the red card out of his pocket.
But it was a 50/50 ball, which both players need to go for in those circumstances. An argument can be made that Ederson should not have been trying to use his head there...but boot to the face, you know?
Here is the official rule, which referees have full discretion over enforcing:
The main argument here comes in deciding whether Mané’s tackle contained “excessive force”, which, again, is up to the referee to decide in the moment. The player was running full tilt when he made the lunge. Hard to see how he could have used any more force, and yet what was the alternative in that situation?
Mané made no attempt to pull out of the tackle, and yet he clearly wasn’t aware enough of Ederson to see the keeper diving headfirst at him.
The other, less persuasive argument, is about “intent.” I don’t think anyone believes that Mané intended to injure Ederson. Both players’ eyes were clearly tracking the ball. However, intent isn’t meant to factor into these decisions. The act itself is what’s being booked, because of the potential for injuring another player when committed -- as what happened here. You’re not being booked for the motivation behind it.
Plenty of pundits and ex-players have chimed in with their opinions on the subject, and most seem to be of the belief that Moss should have shown Mané a yellow card instead of a red.
Pep Guardiola said after the game, “I can't think a player like Mané wanted to go hard on the face of the GK. He followed the ball. Don’t know if it was a red."
Man of the match Kevin de Bruyne said, "If he [Ederson] doesn't get an injury it's probably a yellow."
So where do you fall on the subject? Did Mané deserve to see red today?
Did Mané deserve his red card?
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