Updated: Wednesday, 26th June 2019 @ 11:40am

Tuesday Team Talk: United captain Patrice Evra caves under Anfield pressure as Liverpool knock rivals out of F.A. Cup

Tuesday Team Talk: United captain Patrice Evra caves under Anfield pressure as Liverpool knock rivals out of F.A. Cup

By Jamie Dickenson

So Manchester United find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Knocked out of three cup competitions before the end of January, the first time the club have suffered such an embarrassment in over thirty years.

And the club to inflict the third defeat, sending United out of the F.A. Cup, was none other than fierce North-West rivals Liverpool.

However, for United fans, this was not just another cup exit, not merely another loss felt at the hands of their bitter enemies, but a beating suffered in the backdrop of racism induced vengeance.

When the two sides last met, a 1-1 league draw on 15th October, United defender Patrice Evra accused Liverpool forward Luis Suarez of verbally insulting him with racist words.

Suarez was charged with a disciplinary measure from the Football Association, who instigated an investigation to get to the bottom of the incident.

First came Liverpool's staunch defence of their accused player, accompanied by t-shirts worn by the entire squad (and Suarez himself) in the build up to their match against Wigan, visually portraying the Uruguayan as a figure in the Che Guevara mould.

On New Years Eve, the F.A. released the contents of their investigation's findings. A 115-page report clearly indicting Suarez to have used racist terms towards Evra. Liverpool did not appeal this decision.

And so the two sides faced each other again this weekend,  in the F.A. Cup 4th round fixture on Merseyside, with both team's managers calling for calm from players and fans ahead of a potentially explosive fixture.

The players behaved themselves commendably. So did the majority of fans, according to Merseyside police. However a minority of fans let down their club and country, firmly putting the subject of racism in the English game back in the spotlight.

During the entirety of the match, as Luis Suarez watched on from the stands, a vocal portion of the home crown booed and jeered every time Patrice Evra touched the ball, made a tackle or came close to intervening in the action.

Chants could also be heard from Liverpool fans ascertaining their belief that United's skipper was a 'liar'. Such treatment during a high profile match likely to have been beamed across the globe is utterly indefensible, and offers a derisory example of football in England.

Whilst one can only blame a club's fans as the direct source of such unnecessary chanting and booing, it would be hard to argue that the club's stance towards the racism issue involving their star striker has not fuelled antagonism amongst their support.

Liverpool boss Kenny Daglish lost his cool when a reporter questioned the supporters jeers after the game, barking: “Why would I be disappointed for Evra? I can't believe you asked me that question before anything else. Have you ever played football? I used to get booed.”

Perhaps Daglish did used to get booed, and he has a point in suggesting Liverpool's late victory was more important to him that the sub context of racism. However it smacks of dissent that Liverpool's coach would attempt to trivialise and downplay the awful treatment Evra received at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.

The goal that won the game came in the 88th minute, as a hefty punt down field from keeper Pepe Reina was flicked on by Andy Carroll into the path of Dirk Kuyt.

Evra, who had performed immaculately throughout the match in a dramatically hostile and pressurised environment, suffered a positional lapse in concentration allowing the Dutchman to slide the ball past David De Gea for the home side's winner.

Evra's day ended with his captains armband tossed to the floor in despair, as he contemplated how, and more perplexing why, he was cast as the villain for his part in reporting the racist abuse he suffered.

For a country so often at pains to highlight its support against racism in football, unanimously backing the 'Let's Kick Racism Out of Football' campaign, English football should be ashamed of the actions of Liverpool and their supporters on Saturday.

If the F.A. decrees it unacceptable to verbally abuse another player, why is it so blatantly ignored when a whole stadium of fans boo and jeer a player for reporting racism?

The Suarez-Evra affair is a complex and multi-dimensional issue, that is as difficult to report on as it has been to investigate.

Even so, in light of Saturday's damning events, it seems all too evident to state that Manchester United, and Patrice Evra in particular, have been let down by English football.

Racism is not tolerated in the English game, and neither should abusing a player for reporting racism. The F.A. needs to act now so as to prevent such scenes from ever recurring.