Plenty of internet ink will be spilled this week discussing Darwin Núñez’s unfortunate red card, considering the high hopes the Liverpool faithful have for the new signing and the fact that it was his Anfield debut. But once the dust has settled, this misstep will barely be a blip when it comes to disastrous red cards received by Liverpool players.
Let’s look back at some the most glaringly ridiculous offenses in recent Liverpool history, in no particular order.
The karate kick to the face - Sadio Mané vs. Manchester City, September 8, 2017
It was controversial at the time, but it’s hard to fault Jon Moss for issuing Sadio Mané a straight red card when he leapt into the air to feed his studs to Ederson, the Manchester City goalkeeper. Was it 50/50? Maybe. Were they both going for the ball? Definitely. Did Mané fly in like a member of Cobra Kai trying to win first place in a karate competition? Uh, yes.
The captain after 38 seconds - Steven Gerrard vs. Manchester United, March 22, 2015
Steven Gerrard was, is, and will always be a Liverpool legend. But even the big man had some stinkers, none more so than when he was brought on at the start of the the second half against Manchester United when they trailed 1-0. The captain had already revealed that he was headed to balmy LA the following year and so the sun was setting on his storied career as a Red. Maybe that was on his mind when, a mere 38-seconds after the restart, Gerrard dove in for a vicious, wild tackle on Ander Herrara, only to receive a straight red from Martin Atkinson. And that, sadly, was Gerrard’s last game against Manchester United. Woof.
The double trouble, Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel vs. Tottenham Hotspur, September 18, 2011
Also known as the game where Martin Skrtel played as right-back against Gareth Bale, this absolute bloodbath at White Hart Lane ended with Liverpool down to nine men, conceding four goals, and leaving with zero dignity. Charlie Adam was the first player booted off the pitch after 28 minutes for somehow receiving his second yellow card in less than half an hour. That wasn’t the beginning of Liverpool’s problems and it certainly wasn’t the end. Mike Jones might have sent Martin Skrtel off as a mercy killing to be honest, after 63 minutes. Other fun facts about this game: Daniel Agger went off injured and Emmanuel Adebayor scored Spurs’ fourth goal with the final kick of the game. So if you need a little pick-me-up, just remember things could be much worse.
The two goalkeepers in three games, Pepe Reina vs. Newcastle United, April 1st, 2011 and Doni vs. Blackburn Rovers, April 10th, 2011
Does anyone else sometimes think that the years 2010 through 2012 were a collective, messed up fever dream for Liverpool Football Club? Fitting that the first offense took place on April Fool’s Day. Martin Atkinson saw off Pepe Reina in the 82nd minute of Liverpool’s match against Newcastle United after Reina head butted defender James Perch. The Reds ended up losing 2-0 with Jose Enrique covering the goal for the last 10 minutes.
With Reina out for three games, replacement Doni took his chance between the sticks. They managed to hold Aston Villa to a draw (look, this was good in 2012), but then disaster struck in the following match against Blackburn Rovers. Doni was shown red by Anthony Taylor in the 25th minute for taking down Junior Hoilett when Liverpool were up 2-0.
This absolute clown cars display has a happy ending though. Liverpool legend (change my mind) Brad Jones came on the pitch and immediately saved the penalty kick awarded for Doni’s infringement. The Reds won the match 3-2 thanks to a 90 minute header from Andy Carroll. Then the next week, Jones also helped Liverpool to the FA Cup final with a 2-1 victory over hometown rivals Everton.
Some of you might be thinking, “Why didn’t she mention Luis Suarez’s red card for biting Branislav Ivanovic in 2013?” And if you are thinking that, it’s because you, like me, forgot that Suarez somehow avoided getting a red card during the match and even scored a last minute goal against Chelsea to salvage a point from the game. Because Suarez.
What ridiculous red cards should I have mentioned? Where do you rank Núñez’s recent gaffe in the pantheon of Liverpool blunders?