Sir Alex Ferguson described Luis Suarez as a “disgrace to Liverpool Football Club” suggesting he ought never to play for the club again after refusing to shake hands with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra before today’s Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford.
The eyes of the world were focused on the pre-match handshake as it was the first time Suarez and Evra had faced each other since the Liverpool striker’s eight-match ban for racially abusing United’s left back.
Suarez snubbed Evra who then snatched at the arm of the Liverpool man as he went to shake hands with David de Gera who was stood next to him.
Rio Ferdinand, next in line, witnessed the incident and showed his support for Evra by withdrawing his hand to Suarez.
Asked about the Suarez snub, Ferguson said: “I couldn’t believe it. I had a chat with Patrice in the morning and he told me he would shake his hand as he had nothing to be ashamed of and he wanted to keep his dignity.
“He refused and is a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club and certain players should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again. The history that club has, and to do what he did in a situation like today, could have caused a riot.
“I was disappointed with that guy. It was terrible. It created a tension and the referee (Phil Dowd) didn’t know what to do. It caught him off guard and it was a terrible start to the game and created a terrible atmosphere.”
Ferguson added the pre-match handshake had never been a problem until the race issue came to the fore this season.
He continued: “We have to get our house in order in terms of fighting racism. It is an important issue in this country.
“Football has come a long way since the days of John Barnes and throwing bananas to where we are today. We cannot go back and go forward in a positive way and bar it altogether.”
Ferguson explained that Evra ought not to have celebrated in front of Suarez at the end of the match which ignited a further flashpoint amongst the two sets of players.
Evra had apparently confronted Suarez in the tunnel at half time as the players left the field. Other players are alleged to have intervened and it took stewards and police several minutes to restore order.
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish told Sky Sports Geoff Shreeves he was “bang out of order” for blaming Suarez for anything that happened at Old Trafford.
He thought both sets of fans behaved well and there was no problem with the banter between each other.
Dalglish added he was unaware the handshake hadn’t taken place and he also didn’t know what had happened in the tunnel at half time.
The Liverpool manager admitted United were the better side and the two goals scored by Wayne Rooney in the opening three minutes of the second half had given his side a mountain to climb.
Ferguson described it as a “great performance” by his side adding he was disappointed they didn’t triumph by a wider margin than 2-1.
The United manager thought his side played some fantastic football and were well on top, though he admitted it was a nervy finish after Suarez scored late on to half the deficit.
“Crickey me. I think my heart is still out there. It was nervy in the sense we were playing Liverpool and they had come back from 2-0 down to 2-1 and you only need a second to lose a goal or score a goal. It was a worrying period, but we got through it,” he concluded.