Ronald Koeman, the Everton manager, agreed Ross Barkley was lucky to stay on the pitch in the Merseyside derby after two fouls in the first half that could have produced two yellow cards and accused the Liverpool bench of trying to get his midfielder sent off.
The Everton player was spoken to after a heavy challenge on Emre Can in the opening minutes of Liverpool’s 3-1 victory, two minutes before Sadio Mané opened the scoring. A clearly frustrated Barkley then picked up his first caution for an over-the-top tackle that hurt Dejan Lovren and might have brought a red card.
Koeman did not go that far, though he did admit Barkley was treading a fine line. “It is always a bit different for the local boys in this Merseyside derby,” he said. “Maybe he deserved two yellows for two tackles but if I watch the bench of Liverpool one of the coaches was over-reacting to every Everton tackle, like he wanted the referee to show eight red cards to Everton. There is no need to make that show. I don’t like that. It is a men’s sport and your behaviour has to be like that.”
As these occasions go, it had not been the most hostile or spiteful of encounters and Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, was reluctant to get involved in the argument. “I don’t think it is my job to speak about the Everton manager,” he said. “He never said anything to me at the end of the game, we shook hands and he was fine. My staff are really good boys[Koeman emphasised he was not criticising Klopp’s actions but those of an assistant]. I’m not saying we don’t sometimes view things through tinted glasses but all we really wanted was for all our players to complete the game without injuries.”
Klopp was disappointed in that respect, because Mané took a knock in a collision with Leighton Baines and is now doubtful for the game against Bournemouth on Wednesday. “It is too early to say exactly what the problem is but he was in pain after the game,” the Liverpool manager said. “He has already had treatment and it didn’t look comfortable. Life is always a challenge for a Liverpool manager. We played a really good game and nearly everything was perfect, and then we lose Sadio for the next game. Hopefully it is not that serious.”
Klopp knows what derbies are like and he asked his players before the game to be smart as well as emotional. “We did really well, scored three fantastic goals,” he said. “In all three derbies we have been exactly like this. I know a few people from other clubs think I am crazy but my teams are always top of the fair play table. You should only use aggression to help yourself. We did really well to concentrate on playing football.”