|Darwin Nunez was sent off during Liverpool’s draw with Crystal Palace. AFP Photo
Rio Ferdinand has always in my eyes, been one of the greatest defenders to ever play in the Premier League. Cool, classy, superb footballer, and tough as boots.
It’s been eight years since he last wore the colours of Manchester United and a lot has changed in the game during that time.
I remember Liverpool played United at Old Trafford in what would have been Luis Garcia’s debut season in the Premier League.
Facing Ferdinand in a 50-50 challenge, well there was only going to be one winner really, Rio.
The central defender was then reported to have uttered the words: “Welcome to the Premier League” as the Spaniard lay poleaxed in a heap on the Old Trafford turf.
I’ve no doubt Garcia will remember those words vividly if indeed that was what Rio told him at the time.
Fast forward to today, and another Liverpool player was on the receiving end of a ‘welcome to the Premier League’ message, albeit of a different variety.
Liverpool have splashed out a small fortune on Uruguayan Darwin Nunez, and it’s fair to say he’s had a roller coaster ride of a start to his career in England.
In the curtain-raising Community Shield he scored the third Liverpool goal in a 3-1 win against Manchester City and followed up on his Premier League debut by scoring, and creating a goal in the draw away at Fulham.
Two great big ups, but then he came crashing down with a bang during his home debut against Crystal Palace earlier this week.
In the 57th minute with Liverpool trailing by a goal to nil, the 23-year-old saw red and headbutted Palace defended Joachim Andersen.
I say headbutt, it was more like a slight nudge, and yes, the Dane went down like he had been shot from close range, but all that aside, Nunez messed up in a major way.
Liverpool could only manage a draw on the night, and the Liverpool striker will now miss at least three Premier League games.
I know he has apologised for his actions, and I know he is still young and somewhat naïve, but he needs to grow up, and grow up fast.
Now he will be singled out by defenders in England who will do everything possible to wind him up when they come face to face.
He needs to learn massively from his mistake and not react in such a manner anymore. Other teams will see this as a major weakness to his game. He will be poked, prodded, kicked and nudged every time he plays.
He has to shrug these thing off and get on with his game.
Welcome to the Premier League Darwin. VNS