Everton fail to protect players and coaches as fans invade pitch

Yesterday Everton came back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to win 3-2 over Crystal Palace at Goodison Park. The win secured them a place in next year’s Premier League and guaranteed that one of Leeds or Burnley will be relegated this season.

The match itself was a fraught affair. Home fans started the match at fever pitch and yet somehow found further gears as the game went on. Referee Anthony Taylor didn’t help things with his normal chaotic refereeing and Evertonians felt aggrieved that Jordan Ayew wasn’t sent off for a nasty challenge on Anthony Gordon in the 35th minute. That anger was stoked two minutes later when Ayew scored an ugly goal to put Palace 2-0 up and leave Everton gazing into the abyss of relegation.

But Everton managed to get into half-time without conceding a third and came out in the 2nd half full of piss and vinegar. The scoreline went 1-2 when center half Keane scored with a left footed poke off a set play. Then Richarlison scored with a deflected shot from a crazy angle to make it 2-2 and at this point you could feel the crowd were about to burst as their destiny loomed. And when Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored Everton’s third goal, in the 85th minute, the emotion boiled over and fans came on to the pitch.

I’m not one to tell fans not to celebrate. In fact, given the season that Everton have had and the specific way that they had come back into this game to avoid relegation, it was totally understandable that some folks would come on to the field. What isn’t debateable, however, is that it is the responsibility of Everton football club and the Merseyside police to ensure the safety of the fans, coaches, and players. When they saw the fans on the pitch in the 85th minute, that should have been the cue to tell them that things were going to spill over at full time and that it would be their job to protect Patrick Vieira and his players as they made the 80 yard trek across the pitch from the dugout to the away team dressing rooms. That was the minimum that they should have done but they failed.

So, when the full time whistle went off, fans did come onto the pitch and Patrick Vieira was forced to make the long walk to the away dressing room as hostile Everton supporters surrounded him and shouted abuse in his face.

Vieira tried to compose himself with dignity. He walked with his head held high but I can only imagine that he wasn’t feeling too great, after all his team had just conceded three goals in the second half. And as he approached the safety of the away dressing room a dick head with a cell-phone got right up in his face and literally gave Vieira the middle-finger on the side of his head. We know that this is what happened because the dick head has released his own cell phone footage of him doing exactly that.

We’ve had a lot of talk lately about “free speech” and how we need to protect “free speech”. And I agree that free speech needs to be protected. However, there is a massive difference between a government limiting free speech, brutally murdering and dismembering a journalist for example, and someone getting kicked at because they are a complete knob. You can expect free speech, and in fact in the UK and the USA you are protected to say almost anything you want, the governments are unlikely to murder you for calling Boris Johnson a knob who metaphorically sniffs Piers Morgan’s taint or saying that Donald Trump is broke and has a micropenis (these are things that I have heard on the internet but cannot verify). But what you can’t expect is consequence-free speech from your fellow citizens.

I am free to say the above things and you are free to be mad at me for saying them. A complete knob is free to film himself sticking his finger in Patrick Vieira’s face while screaming obscenities at him. But I am here to tell you that if you do that you should probably expect him to kick the shit out of you.

But that’s not what’s going to be discussed on the fainting couches of the British press this week. What will be discussed is how evil Patrick Vieira was for losing his temper. Folks are going to say “the fan was wrong to be doing that BUUUUT..” and then go on about how Vieira should have done better.

Which will entirely miss the real point and the real problem. Instead of investigating Vieira for trying to protect his dignity, we should be asking serious questions of Everton football club and the Merseyside police. How come Vieira wasn’t protected from this mob? Why was he made to walk across the pitch so that he could be made the object of public ridicule by some cell-phone wielding knob? And how many years will it be before that cell-phone wielding knob will be allowed to attend a football match again?

For me this incident isn’t about Vieira losing his cool. This was Everton football club completely losing control of basic safety protocols and endangering an opposition coach and legend of the game. If anyone should be punished, it’s Everton.



  1. Thanks for the post Tim

    I agree the problem is not Vierra but the lack of crowd control. Unfortunately I am not sure how you can control a crowd like that if they are intent on getting on the pitch.

    Regarding yesterdays post I did not have a chance to comment. It seems like inconsistency has been part of almost every season since the invincibles in 03/04. The seasons which stand out in my memory are the last 1/3 of 07/08 compared with the first 2/3. The 10/11 season where we were close to the league lead and then completely melted down are losing the Carling cup final to Birmingham. The first 1/2 of 14/15 we were really bad but we were great the second half. In 15/16 we were either tied or ahead of Leicester on mid Feb when Danny Welbeck scored that great stoppage time goal and we all thought this was our year. Then we melted down and Leicester outscored us by 10 points between mid Feb and the end of the season. Emery’s first season where we had the 22 game unbeaten run but melted down at the end of the season. Last season we spent much of the first 1/2 season around 15th place and climbed up the table in the second half season. There were ups and downs and runs of good and bad form in every season but those stand out in my memory. The point of all of this is ups and downs, good form/bad form and inconsistency are part of football. In the end the ups and downs balance out and we usually end up about where should and inconsistency is something we should all expect.

  2. in contrast to the likely majority here, i actually condone violence. duh, i grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood where fighting was as normal as playing hide and seek. as a young adult, i joined an organization that trained to “get our murder on” anywhere in the world within 18 hours of notification…and we were damn-good at it too. likewise, i was a boxer for sport so violence has always been a part of my life, but i digress.

    while i readily agree that violence isn’t always the answer, sometimes it’s good to keep things primal. we live in a world where we’re taught “all violence is wrong” or “violence is never the answer”. add to that, social media has given everyone, particularly the cowards, an outlet to say and do whatever they want. i’m here to say that violence DOES have a place in our society.

    when that kid got in vieira’s face, his reasonable expectation should have been “i’m gonna get fucked up if i don’t respect this man’s space”. however, society has created this guy who believes he’s entitled to disrespect vieira’s personal space without immediate and violent consequence. that kid, in his formative years, needed to get punched in the face when he got out of pocket. clearly, that never happened to him and this is what you get as a result of condemning all violence. we should have thought nothing of vieira kicking that crap out of that kid.

    understand, i don’t condone bullying. but that kid needs what the old folks used to call “act right”. thats a condition when folks misbehave, you violently put hands on him to correct his behavior…or teach him how to “act right”. like i said, i know i’m in the minority.

    1. I actually agree. I do not have your background – the most I have is a few high school scuffles, but this violence is never the answer mentality is a load of b. And you expressed it just right.

      My 5 yo is in K, and a few weeks ago this little sh!t smacked her in the face with his lunchbox. We kicked up a stink, they had a talk, they said it was behind them. We waited for the parents to call us to apologize and they never did, turns out the school has a policy of not notifying the parents of the kid who did it. Why? I don’t know.

      Some other girls keeps kicking her, we tell our daughter to be authoritative and shout STOP and tell a teacher. She says she does but this little girl keeps kicking her. Every part of me wants to tell her to smack this kid hard in the face, but I can’t because society. So I don’t know, you tell me what to do?

      Violence like Will Smith did it is moronic and stupid. Vieira I understand completely.

  3. I think Vieira finally lost his cool when the Everton supporter made contact with his shoulder, however faintly.
    And if there was contact, then what ensued would be justified in my view.
    Otherwise, no.
    That’s the price elite players and managers have to pay for the perks that come with the status , fame and money.

    1. No way, I vehemently disagree. Vieira’s status/fame/money in no way provides license for a-holes to call you whatever they want and abuse you.

      Vieira’s anger was justified. The idea that some nobody is allowed to denigrate you in such a fashion is an unacceptable insult to him as a human being.

      And let’s keep in mind that anger is a product of fear. That mob was out of control. There was no security. If there’s one idiot willing to confront Vieira in such a fashion, then there are many more idiots that will take it one step further. If you think you’d have reacted calmly under those conditions and that potential threat, you’re deluded.

  4. Tim, do you honestly believe Vieira felt in danger at any point from that punk?
    I’ve seen him play ….. he was fearless.
    It’s not a question whether that idiot deserved an ass whooping. He clearly did, and a much worse than the one he got.

    Also expecting a rational behavior from a mob that’s willing to stand and sing at the top of their lungs for 90 minutes straight in a rabid support of their team …….. I don’t know…….even at church the religious fanatics sit down and take a breather every ten minute or so.

    I guarantee if Vieira had the chance for a redo, he would react differently.

    1. You must be taking the piss.

      You wouldn’t tolerate someone invading your personal space like that in your workspace. Patrick doesn’t surrender (nor does any other celebrity) the inviolate nature of his personage just because of his fame.

      You mess with the bull…you get the horns.

      1. English football scene is not your average workspace.
        You probably don’t hear things like ”sit your arse down you pedophile” a lot where you work, which was shouted out routinely at Wenger at OT.

        You have to be able to hold two ideas in your head simultaneously:
        – one, the Everton fan was a punk worthy of receiving a proper ass whopping.
        – two , Vieira probably should’ve handled it differently.

  5. Totally agree we should protect free speech and that abusive free speakers should be aware of the (sometimes physical) consequences of their ‘speech’. Good on you Patrick. And I think most of the press coverage has been with him – not so much for whacking the knobhead but for being put in that position in the first place.

  6. I don’t think this a-hole confronting Vieira is a free speech issue. It’s a civility issue. The guiderails on what is considered civilized behavior are coming down a little more every day. Every day we draw lines in the sand and people cross it and then we collectively shrug our shoulders and re-draw a new line. Rinse and repeat.

    That guy is a punk. I’m happy that’s he’s completely clueless and has revealed himself. He should now be ostracized – not by the government or authorities, but by friends, family and employers. He should be barred for life from attending any more Everton games.

    And honestly, he needs his ass kicked. Because he crossed a line. And sometimes an example needs to be set for anyone who considers doing something that reprobate in the future.

    If Vieira is punished for this then there’s something wrong. Every man should be allowed to defend himself, even physically, in the face of abuse – or you just invite more.

    1. Agree 100% Jack.

      Reports suggest antisocial behaviour has increased significantly post Co-vid; literally as if people forgot to behave. Increasingly the recreational drug of choice and ease-of-access is no longer booze or weed but cocaine. Plus we live in an age where everyone has a camera and the desire for notoriety often overwhelms sensibility.

      A pet peeve is the faux moralising that goes on in football. It’s as if presented with the right and wrong choice football always chooses the latter.

  7. Totally off topic and very last minute. My son is visiting his best friend who goes to college in York. Does anyone know if it’s remotely possible to get tickets last minute to the game tomorrow? Any insight/advice would be appreciated.

  8. Completely on board with what Vieira did. It’s not like he gave him a beat down. It was little more than a tap, but sends the message. You can say he shouldn’t have done that, but he shouldn’t have had to.

    By the way, right after Vieira kicked him, one other man went and pushed Vieira in the chest, and then moved away. Credit to the Everton fans who stepped in and stopped the situation from getting any worse than it was. Although they shouldn’t have been on the field either. If the FA charge Vieira it would be a travesty.

  9. Great article, but as a student cosplaying a lawyer (and currently studying for the bar exam) I feel obligated to point out that there are important distinctions between the right to free speech in the US and free speech in the UK, though I take you were making the broader point that speaking freely is taken for granted in both the US and UK and in other countries could result in execution.

    First, in the US, at least since the 1960s, public officials cannot recover damages for defamation (even if false) from the media, unless they can prove the media officials actually knew what they were publishing was false, which is pretty difficult. In the UK, libel plaintiffs can sue and recover damages regardless whether the media defendant was actually at fault. Merely printing the alleged libelous statement is enough in the UK to get damages. Newspapers are only protected in the UK from libel if the statements are in a fair and accurate report of government proceedings, like a trial, or proceedings in Parliament. Interestingly, group libel laws – laws prohibiting dissemination of derogatory information about groups or classes of people, which might incite hatred against such groups – are likely unconstitutional in the United States, while in the UK, the Race Relations Act of 1976, exists and is regularly enforced, like when UK police investigate racial abuse targeted at footballers on social media. The law had not been used very much to prosecute racial abuse until it was apparent how much racial abuse occurs on social media. A further interesting difference is that in the UK, there is such a thing as “blasphemous libel” which makes it a crime to insult, offend, or vilify Christ or the Christian religion. In 1979, a UK case found the Gay News guilty of violating the law for portraying Jesus Christ as a gay man. Such a law in the United States would violate both the right to free speech and the religious establishment clause of the First Amendment (which also is the amendment in which the right to free speech is contained).

    Second, in the US, if a person claims a publication makes untrue, derogatory, or otherwise libelous statement, the only remedy is to sue after the statement is published, for damages. In the UK, if an alleged victim of libel discovers the statement is about to be published, they could sue to prevent publication. The difference in how the countries treat “prior restraint” highlights differences in how the countries prioritize the public’s “right to know” in the case of the US, and the individual right to protection from reputational damage, in the UK. This also extends to differences in how courts in the different countries treat the government’s burden to prevent publication of materials implicating national security. In the US, it is very difficult for the government to meet its burden in showing publication will result in direct, immediate and irreparable damage. In the UK, courts are more willing to grant injunctions preventing publications containing alleged confidential government information. The book Spycatcher is a good example – UK courts enjoined publication in newspapers, and the injunction was only lifted when the book’s publication in the US destroyed the secrecy of its contents.

    1. thanks for that. it’s always good to hear how countries outside of the u.s. do things differently as opposed to the american way and why. once again, thanks for sharing.

  10. I didn’t have a chance to watch the game today so I can’t comment on anything specific but from what I have read we played quite well. Much easier to execute the game plan when the pressure is off.

    Nice way to finish the season. I think finishing 5th on 69 points is a fabulous result and would have been enough points for 4th place last year. There were ups and downs but overall season long results definitely exceeded expectations. Not much more you can ask. With some good business this summer I think we have a very realistic chance to go deep and possibly even win the Europa league and perhaps finish top 4

  11. I thought this write up of Arsenal’s season was really good:


    It comes out with a fairly positive report, and demonstrates the improvement over the last 3 seasons, especially in xG and SoT, but it doesn’t skip over the problems. We shipped more goals this season, and we only came back from a losing position once.

    It also doesn’t answer all the questions that people here have, by any means, in terms of the decisions made this season and the opportunity cost of imposing all these changes.

    As we’ve all said, how you ultimately feel about this season depends on your expectations going in. I can’t help but feel disappointed. We finished just one victory below my personal (and therefore meaningless) points expectation. And just one place below the CL places, which was some people’s expectation for the league finish. So we are close, it shouldn’t be classed as a complete failure but still: we missed a very big, very important target.

    One win. I know there were closer defeats earlier in the season, other games where we played better and deserved more, but somehow that only makes Newcastle even worse.

    Compare us at Newcastle to City against Villa on the final day. 3 goals in 5 minutes to win the league. For me that belief, that ability to raise our performance even higher, make the right decisions with the ball and win when the pressure is absolute, that’s the main difference between us and the top 2 now, and it’s 90% mental. Zinchenko, Sterling, De Bruyne and Gundogan were immense. I’m not sure how we get our own players there, but I know – sorry guys – that culture is a big part of it, and it’s time for that culture to deliver on the pitch.

    Now we are coming into this massive summer for the club, we may see all kinds of disappointments as good players go elsewhere, we may struggle to get the talent and experience we want and need. Or not! I have a large degree of faith now that the plans will be sound, let’s just hope Edu and his team can execute.

    1. That report is slightly misleading. They are using the Opta xG which is – in my opinion – far too generous. I prefer FBREF xG which tends to map closer to actual goals. In that case, Arsenal’s xG this season was 1.58 and out xGA was a pathetic 1.24. Our xGD/match this season was 0.34 which is a slight improvement over last season’s 0.24 but we are still 5th overall in xGD this season and again like I said in another comment, after January, Arsenal were much closer to a 7th place team after the new year. We were, for example, a 7th place team in terms of goal difference after the new year.

Comments are closed.

Related articles