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Pep Guardiola at centre of new Liverpool debate

THE BIG DEBATE: The Manchester City manager hit out at referee Anthony Taylor and suggested that the Anfield crowd influenced his decision to disallow a Phil Foden goal.


Pep Guardiola was not a happy man after Manchester City’s defeat at Anfield.


The City boss, along with his midfielder Bernardo Silva, had plenty to say after a fiery contest ended 1-0 in favour of the hosts thanks to a fine Mo Salah strike 14 minutes from time.


That only told half the story though.


City had a goal disallowed by VAR after Erling Haaland was judged to have fouled Fabinho in the build-up, and then after the Liverpool goal Jurgen Klopp was sent off for protesting against what he saw as a foul by Bernardo on Salah, which wasn’t given.


Guardiola fumed at referee Anthony Taylor, and claimed that the Anfield crowd had an influence on the VAR decision after the on-pitch official had let several fouls go during the game.


“This is Anfield,” he said.


The referee spoke with my assistant coaches and said: ‘I’m not going to make fouls and I will be clear.’ All game it was play on and play on and play on. Except the goal [for Foden].


Guardiola was left fuming with the decisions

Guardiola was left fuming with the decisions ( Image: AFP via Getty Images)

“The ref can decide: ‘I’m going to whistle all the actions,’ but he decided not to do it and then after he did it. When we scored a goal it was not play on. This is the reality.”


So has Guardiola got a point? Did the Anfield crowd influence matters and should the VAR call have gone along with the apparent spirit of the game?


Mike Walters

DO us a favour, Pep – climb down off your high horse.


Loads of clubs, big and small, feel they are short-changed at Anfield. Frank Lampard, for example, was fined £30,000 for some pointed remarks after the Merseyside derby last season.


And guess what? Loads of clubs, big and small, feel they are short-changed at the Etihad, too.


The blessed Pep wasn’t complaining too loudly when Sadio Mane was shown a contentious straight red card after colliding with Ederson in 2017, and City went on to win 5-0, was he?

Does he honestly think Mane would have been sent off if the same incident had happened at Anfield?

No chance. It’s called home advantage – that unwritten law where, sub-consciously, referees often gave the benefit of the doubt to the home side, especially the big clubs. It happens, deal with it.

Let’s call out the real villains of the piece – the morons who threw coins at Guardiola and the away fans’ shameless, obnoxious chants about “murderers” and “always the victims.”

Andy DunnJurgen Klopp was sent off for his protests

Jurgen Klopp was sent off for his protests

If Pep Guardiola was making a broader point that a crowd as passionate and as loud and as vociferous as the one that normally gets into Anfield can influence referees then fair enough.

And, by the way, if he was to suggest Jurgen Klopp sometimes gets away with murder on the Anfield touchline then, also, fair enough.

But Anfield had nothing to do with Phil Foden’s goal being disallowed, Anfield had nothing to do with Manchester City being beaten on Sunday.

The City goal was ruled out because there was a clear offence in the immediate build-up which became evident to VAR on replay.

That is what the system is there for.

Had Liverpool scored that goal and it had been allowed, Pep would have been fuming.

Unusually, Guardiola got a couple of things wrong and, unusually, his team were not as clinically brilliant as they normally are.

His bitterness afterwards was just sour grapes.

David Anderson

If you believe the moon landings were faked, then, yes, Pep Guardiola has a point when he moans about the Anfield factor.

Before the introduction of VAR, officials might have been influenced by the bear-pit atmosphere generated by home fans at Anfield or Old Trafford, but that element has now been removed.

Is Guardiola seriously suggesting that VAR Darren England was influenced by Liverpool’s protests from 200 miles away in Stockley Park?


England’s job was to calming review Manchester City’s disallowed goal away from such influences and he correctly ruled that Erling Haaland pulled Fabinho over in the build-up.

If anything, VAR, so often maligned, should be applauded for getting a huge call right.

The officials could hardly be accused of favouring Liverpool when Rodri was not penalised for his challenge on Mohamed Salah or Bernardo Silva for his on Salah, which caused Jurgen Klopp to blow his top.

There was a distinct whiff of sour grapes about Guardiola’s gripe, perhaps because he knows deep down City lost because of Joao Cancelo’s mistake and his formation change.

Mark JonesThe Anfield atmosphere was electric for Liverpool's clash with City

The Anfield atmosphere was electric for Liverpool’s clash with City

There are those who often like to sneer and roll their eyes at the apparent mythologising of Anfield, but they overlook an important point.

If you’re Liverpool, it works.

Time and again opposition players and managers tie themselves up in knots and fail to perform at their optimum because they are so worried about the environment around them, and then that in turn inspires the Liverpool players to perform better, something which can also be dismissed when assessing just what is going on.

Jurgen Klopp’s side needed a result to feel better about themselves on Sunday, and the fans were going to encourage them to get just that.


The way Anthony Taylor refereed the game also added to the sense that this was a win at all costs day, and a backs against the wall performance against opponents Liverpool can’t quite go toe-to-toe with at the moment.


Viewing all this, Pep Guardiola made confusing tactical decisions and played some of the most in-form players in the world right now out of their natural positions.


It’s no wonder he ended up moaning about a perfectly valid VAR decision, one that should have been given by Taylor initially.


He wanted to take the attention away from a bad day at the office for him.


Sam Meade

Guardiola was understandably and, depending on what side on the fence you’re on, perhaps rightly fuming by Foden’s disallowed goal.


Bernardo Silva’s comments were fair, if the referee let so much go, then he should’ve stuck with his stance despite it leading to a goal.


It comes to a wider problem though, which is City feeling hard done by at Anfield and that belief is not entirely misplaced. In short, the influence of 50,000 Merseysiders certainly does make a difference.


To say it is the new Old Trafford would be a tad extreme, but the VAR issues back in November 2019 and the decision to, somehow, not send James Milner off in last season’s clash clearly linger with those at City.

The emotion certainly comes out when these two sides meet and Guardiola made his feelings known when quizzed on his side’s disallowed goal, simply claiming: “This is Anfield”.

Tom BlowErling Haaland fouled Fabinho in the build-up to Foden's disallowed goal

Erling Haaland fouled Fabinho in the build-up to Foden’s disallowed goal
Guardiola does have a point, although I don’t think the Anfield crowd influenced the decision to disallow Foden’s goal. Haaland clearly fouled Fabinho in the build-up to the goal. This isn’t rugby – you can’t just grab someone’s shirt and pull them to the ground.
But Taylor did allow several fouls to go unpunished after Foden’s disallowed goal, as the atmosphere inside Anfield reached boiling point. The most notable howler was Silva’s challenge on Salah, which led to Klopp receiving his marching orders in protest.
It’s very easy in football to think the referee is against your side in the heat of the moment, but they’re not. It’s easier for managers and players to criticise the referee rather than look at the truth. On this occasion, City were beaten by the better team.
I haven’t checked, but Haaland might still be in Joe Gomez’s back pocket, and Salah – clearly disgruntled by recent criticism – was at his brilliant best. The Egyptian’s goal just oozed admirable arrogance and Guardiola’s side were outclassed.
It happens. Move on.
Felix Keith
Pep Guardiola’s comments should be taken within the context of what had just happened: a first league defeat of the season and coins allegedly being thrown from the stands at him.
One thing is certain: Anfield was rocking in the second half on Sunday, and that undoubtedly makes a difference to the players. It also makes officiating more pressurised and more difficult.
Taylor did his very best to let the game flow – or waved away lots of fouls, depending on your viewpoint – but his call on the City goal was a simple one.
Once he’d been called to the pitchside monitor by VAR it was always going to be ruled out, regardless of the crowd noise around him. Erling Haaland did pull Fabinho’s shirt in the build-up and Premier League match centre later confirmed to the BBC that, even if the Haaland foul hadn’t been given, he would have been pulled up for kicking the ball out of Alisson’s hands anyway.
VAR is a dispassionate system. If Guardiola has beef then it’s with that, not the crowd.

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