Liverpool striker Luis Suarez embroiled himself in another confrontation with Patrice Evra after refusing to shake the hand of the Manchester United defender prior to kick-off at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils captain offered his hand to the Uruguay international, who was banned for eight matches for racially abusing the defender, but he bypassed the Frenchman and went straight to goalkeeper David de Gea.
Evra did not accept that and attempted to grab Suarez’s arm to complete the formalities, but the striker shrugged him off.
Rio Ferdinand, next in line to De Gea, then refused to shake Suarez’s hand.
Evra, as captain, had led out the side, and as Suarez, playing his first match since returning from his ban, emerged from the tunnel next to last in Liverpool's line-up he was immediately booed.
But the Uruguayan’s reaction to Evra was at odds with what manager Kenny Dalglish, who earlier in the week had said it was time to draw a line under the matter, had suggested would happen.
The Premier League had deemed there was no reason to cancel the handshakes, as they had done between QPR and Chelsea last month in an effort to ease tensions due to John Terry’s charge of racially abusing Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, an allegation the Chelsea captain denies.
However, as a result it created another flashpoint – all of Suarez’s making.
Dalglish said he had made his team selection based on “football reasons”.
“We have come here to play a football match,” he told Sky Sports prior to kick-off.
“We have picked our team purely on football reasons and that alone.
“We had a great game at Anfield a few weeks ago (in Liverpool’s FA Cup win) and the wee man wasn’t eligible but he is eligible now.
“Mentality has never been a problem for Luis Suarez. He is a football player who wants to play football and we want him to play.”
United boss Alex Ferguson stressed he had not spoken to Evra about facing Suarez – or indeed the initial incident back in October.
“There is no issue regarding Patrice. He did what was right; he made a complaint regarding racial abuse and that is the matter,” he said.
“Since then we have never discussed it, we’ve just got on with our job.
“I think the nature of the build-up to these games has not been right and that has come from Liverpool.
“But if you get a good game that transcends everything. We want to see good football. Both clubs have great histories and a good game would do the world of good.”
Ferguson extended his thoughts on the way Evra had been treated over the last four months in the match programme.
“My biggest regret is the way that Patrice has been castigated in some quarters for standing up to racism,” he told United Review.
“He can’t have enjoyed the booing he endured at Anfield the other week, but he kept his dignity and his concentration on football.
“Patrice has, in fact, displayed exactly the kind of strength of character that I have been talking about.
“He has got through it because he wanted to get through it and hopefully now we can all get on with the game.”
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