[video] Agger’s Red Card shows Rules Need To Be Changed

With their first three home games against Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal, Liverpool desperately needed a good start to their Barclays Premier League campaign last Saturday. Yet it was simply not to be. Not only did West Brom defeat them but the Midlands side outclassed Brendan Rodgers’ reds in the second half, who couldn’t find their clinical touch.

Yet perhaps the largest set back was losing Daniel Agger after Phil Dowd sent off the Denmark captain for allegedly pushing Baggies forward Shane Long, which you can see here. Despite considering an appeal Agger has since decided to take the one match ban, meaning he will not be present in the Liverpool side that faces Manchester City this weekend.

Since the game at the Hawthorns there has been endless debate online as to whether the Denmark international should have been shown red. As a Liverpool fan I would usually have an innate tendency to argue but you cannot bend the rules in Agger’s situation. Yes Long probably went down way too soft, yes here was probably minimal contact. Yet the key thing is there was contact and Agger was the last man – according to the current rules, should Long go down then the centre-back has to be sent off.

With the action happening so quickly, it is unfair to blame the linesman or the referee for missing the incident. Nor should Phil Dowd be criticized. The situation occurred and he simply followed the rulebook – any other ref would have done exactly the same.

What this incident shows is that significant changes have to be made to the rules of the beautiful game. Much talk has been made about goal line technology, with perhaps some progress in the offing, yet that is not the only thing the cameras should be used for. Replays show that Phil Dowd was hardly in a position to make a call, whilst the lack of significant contact would have been difficult for a linesman to see.

I understand that all decisions cannot be scrutinized through video replay. Yet this decision, and similar ones in the future, will have significant implications on a teams campaign. In addition such last man incidents should also be reviewed – admittedly Agger did nudge Long but whether the contact was enough to make a serious impact on Long is debatable. The FA should discuss whether such contact should be deemed as preventing a goal scoring opportunity, or whether the forward simply went down in order to ensure a penalty kick when he might not have scored otherwise.

I’m not saying that Agger’s sending off was unjust. Phil Dowd and his team of officials followed the rules of the game in awarding the penalty and sending off the Liverpool player. Yet this scenario brings into focus one of the many flaws in the modern game.

The FA has to do something about players going down as a result of minimal contact anywhere on the field. Otherwise, our beloved game will simply become a non contact sport and that simply cannot happen.

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