While the international break hasn’t yet concluded, the thoughts of many Liverpool fans have already turned towards Saturday’s Merseyside derby against Everton.
The Premier League has confirmed the various appointments of match officials for next weekend’s fixtures, and one name in particular will give the Reds some nightmarish flashbacks to this day three years ago.
Craig Pawson will be the on-field referee at Anfield, although the standout name among the officials who’ll be on duty is VAR David Coote.
He was also in Stockley Park for the Merseyside derby on 17 October 2020, the day that Virgil van Dijk suffered an ACL injury following a horrendous challenge from Jordan Pickford which somehow went unpunished.
What made that incident at Goodison Park even more galling was the subsequent revelation that Coote mistakenly thought he couldn’t intervene to recommend a potential red card review because of an offside in the build-up to the Everton goalkeeper’s brutish lunge (Daily Mail).
Because of the VAR’s moment of incompetence, Pickford got away scot-free with an assault on a fellow professional, one which left Van Dijk sidelined for nine months.
The sheer dereliction of duty that day bears haunting echoes of what happened in Liverpool’s defeat at Tottenham last month, when VAR Darren England failed to spot that the on-field decision to rule out a legitimate Luis Diaz goal for offside was incorrect and then refused pleas to look at the incident again.
Taking those two inexcusable moments into account, Reds fans may well be fearing the worst when Coote is on duty at Stockley Park for another October Merseyside derby.
Here’s hoping that he and his fellow officials aren’t the main talking point after the full-time whistle on Saturday.