It wasn’t a great challenge, there’s just no denying that and Jamie Carragher may well have been given his marching orders had Nani not immediately jumped up as though he were perfectly fine, remonstrated with Carragher and the referee as though he were perfectly fine, before realising that in fact he wasn’t perfectly fine and collapsing suddenly to the floor.
The tears, the tantrum, the getting up and falling down again, the fact that it was Nani. These factors may well have influenced Phil Dowd’s decision to flash a yellow card instead of a red.
Rafael Da Silva’s challenge a few minutes later was equally deserving of a red card but the standard had been set, so Dowd couldn’t possibly have sent him off with the Liverpool number 23 still on the pitch. Such is football. Neither player should be especially proud of these incidents but the nature of the game dictates that, until physical contact is removed completely, we’re going to see some bad challenges every so often. In most cases they are merely poorly timed, in a regrettable few they are made with intent.
I never enjoy seeing a player getting injured and the photographs in today’s papers of the gash on Nani’s leg, don’t make for pleasant viewing. However, I personally find rewatching Nani’s tantrum a lot more uncomfortable. Am I alone in this? Regardless of your view on the intent of the challenge, there’s no doubting that the Portuguese winger had every right to be upset but the manner with which he expressed himself somehow drains me of sympathy for him. I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m glad he was hurt but having seen players suffer far worse injuries than the small gash on Nani’s leg and not react in that way, well you can’t help but not feel so bad that he didn’t make it out for the second half. He’ll recover quickly enough from what is just a flesh wound but is it any wonder referees seem in a constant state of confusion when it comes to making big decisions when players are acting up and trying to get fellow professionals sent off? Nani and plenty of others have acted in this way before but for once it may actually have prevented justice from being done.
It’s not only Carragher and Rafael who should feel a little disappointed in themselves today.