What’s the difference between Diego Costa and Steven Gerrard?
One has been much maligned outside of Stamford Bridge for his stamp on Liverpool’s Emre Can earlier this season, the other remains an Anfield hero, whose costly 45 second cameo against Manchester United has already been forgiven.
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This is the intriguing view of Daily Mirror columnist and former footballer Robbie Savage, who has positively blasted the Reds skipper in his latest piece, describing the MLS-bound 34-year-old as ‘disgraceful’.
Speaking earlier today, Savage said: “Yes, Gerrard is a legend, the best I ever played against in my career. Yes, he is arguably Liverpool’s greatest player of all time because he inspired the miracle of Istanbul in the European Cup Final 10 years ago this May.
“That does NOT give him a licence to go around stamping on opponents. I was disappointed that so many pundits and qualified observers tried to excuse Gerrard’s red card because he was “emotional” or “frustrated” at being left out of the starting line-up.”
It’s certainly hard to argue. Gerrard might not be as renowned for his on the field crimes as Costa, but his error could well prove to be the difference between Liverpool making the top four, and missing out.
When he came on at half-time during the 2-1 defeat to United, the score was only 1-0, and the Reds had every opportunity to turn it around. As it was, they soon found themselves both two goals and a man down, with an impossible task in front of them.
To lash out at Juan Mata, and then stamp on Ander Herrera for trying to defend his teammate, was as reckless as it was surprising. If he’d done damage, and the Spaniard hadn’t sprung back to his feet to demand a card, then he’d be looking even worse right now.
Savage added: “Let’s be honest, when Chelsea’s Diego Costa was vilified for stamping on a Liverpool player Emre Can in the Capital One Cup semi-final in January, nobody offered him the mitigation that he was emotional, fired-up or frustrated.
“It is, of course, to his credit that he came out and apologised to his team-mates, the manager and Liverpool supporters (though not, as Man United fans pointed out, to Ander Herrera himself).
“That does not afford him the moral high ground over Costa – because the Chelsea striker was not sent off and his ban was retrospective. Sorry, I’m not having it that Gerrard’s stamp can be treated more leniently because he was decent enough to apologise for doing it.
“You have to be even-handed about these things – one stamp on an opponent is as bad as another. It’s about the offence, not the reputation of the player who commits it. The people who say Gerrard ‘isn’t that type of player’ are wide of the mark.
“From Eric Cantona to Roy Keane and even Dennis Bergkamp, many great players in modern football have had a ruthless streak in them. That ‘edge’ is part of their DNA. But stamping on opponents is never acceptable – whoever is guilty of it.”