Jurgen Klopp was sent off by Anthony Taylor during Liverpool’s victory over Manchester City after verbally abusing the linesman, who failed to give Mo Salah a free kick.
Thirty miles along the M62, in a match that mainly panned out as the calm before Sunday’s storm, Cristiano Ronaldo ludicrously claimed he had scored a legitimate goal after taking the ball away from Nick Pope as the Newcastle United goalkeeper waited to take a free-kick.
The notion that Ronaldo’s effort was legal was clearly preposterous, as Craig Pawson made clear. Yet still, the referee was besieged by 10 bawling Manchester United players and Erik ten Hag had a pop at the fourth official.
What happened to that scheme when only the captain was supposed to be allowed to approach the referee? What happened to the Respect campaign? What happened to the slogans, to the example-setting? Since when has the harassment, intimidation and abuse of officials become acceptable again?
Of course, that was just the very light appetiser for the main course at Anfield, where one of the abiding images was Jurgen Klopp towering in a physically intimidating manner over a cowering assistant referee and delivering verbal abuse into the man’s face.
And what pathetic punishment will Klopp get for this? A standard one-match touchline ban. It is an insult and an injury to honest officials up and down the country.
It is an insult and an injury to those men and women up and down the country who are being abused – assaulted even – on a weekly basis by characters who see Premier League managers slaughtering officials and think that is the way to go. What is the point of a touchline ban if the manager can watch the game from the stands and then go into the dressing-room at half-time?
Jurgen Klopp was sent off for shouting abuse at linesman Gary Beswick during Liverpool vs Man City
Jurgen Klopp was sent off for shouting abuse at linesman Gary Beswick during Liverpool vs Man City ( Image: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Some managers used to occasionally do that by choice. Bob Paisley, for one – a Liverpool manager who won six titles and three European Cups in eight seasons without ever having to scream in the face of a linesman. Being forced to watch a game from the posh seats in the stand is like a court banning someone from driving but giving them a chauffeur. It is ludicrous.
By the way, Klopp is not the only manager who deserves sterner punishment for his treatment of officials. Far from it. His adversary Sunday, Pep Guardiola, has been getting away with it for years.
The more high-profile your status, the more you are indulged, it seems. Fair play to Anthony Taylor for actually dismissing Klopp. But a red card has to be followed up by meaningful punishments. Let’s start with banning managers from a match entirely – and not just one.
Klopp might think again about giving assistant referees pelters if he was facing a three-game ban. And pump up the fines to levels that are even close to being a deterrent.
Yes, occasions such as the Liverpool-City match are high-octane, heavily hyped and passions clearly run high. But there is too much verbal and physical abuse of officials in grassroots football, junior football and the amateur game for the likes of Klopp to get off lightly.