Manchester United and the other Merseyside team – Everton – have often served us drama on a platter whenever they clash.
Whether it’s fighting over Wayne Rooney, who incensed hardcore Blue fans by switching to Manchester United and kissing the badge or late drama which saw United lose a 4-2 lead and lose the title to Man City, Goodison Park has been the theatre of some feisty encounters.
And drama was not in short supply at Goodison Park where a rejuvenated Manchester United – after the Bernando Fernandes pick-me-up – again faltered to string together three wins in the league.
While Fernandes was lively throughout the match, Everton appeared to be the better team after scoring through an absolute David De Gea howler.
In the third minute, the United keeper – who has been the only standout Manchester United player in the post-Fergie era – cleared a simple ball which hit Calvert-Lewin’s boot and went inside the net. It was the sort of goal that one simply doesn’t see too often in Sunday league games.
Manchester United equalised with Bruno Fernandes in the 31st minute but the real drama came in injury time when a Calvert-Lewin shot deflected by Harry Maguire found the back of the net. David De Gea was rooted to the spot, but Manchester United players vehemently protested the call.
Referee Chris Kavanagh overturned the decision after consulting VAR and instantly became as popular as beer loving Brett Kavanaugh on the other side of the pond.
This was the fourth time VAR ruled out an opponent’s goal against Manchester United in the last three matches.
While Calvert-Lewin was appeared to be extremely disappointed after missing out but offside, particularly under VAR have become a subject of intense debate.
The replays clearly showed that Sigurdsson didn’t touch the ball, but he did lift his legs to let it roll in. Even if a stranded David De Gea was miles away from making the save, Sigurdsson actions fell fouls of the laws followed by FIFA, the English Football Association and all other major leagues.
Incidentally, both Roy Keane and Graeme Souness agreed that Sigurdsson was offside.
The IFAB Laws of the Game 2019-20, states that an offside offence occurs when:
A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is touched or played by a teammate is only penalised for committing an offside offence if, in the opinion of the referee, s/he becomes involved in active play by:
Interfering with play
"playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate"
Interfering with an opponent
"preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or challenging an opponent for the ball or clearly attempting to play a ball which is close to them when this action impacts on an opponent or making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball"
Under these defined laws, one can argue that David De Gea’s ‘line of vision was being obstructed’ which is why the goal was not given.
That being said, one can totally sympathise with Carlos Ancelotti’s fury after he was red carded at the end as the veteran European manager lost his cool.
As Wolverhampton manager N Nuno Espírito Santo observed las December, it was sad that VAR meant one would be celebrating a ‘non-goal’.
While VAR does make the game fairer, one would argue that it has robbed football of the one moment that truly defined its joie di vivre – the post-goal celebration. Now every goal is followed by a check, which seems almost ungainly at times.