Liverpool v Manchester United: 10 years since Ryan Babel earned unusual record with tweet


It's fair to say Ryan Babel's four years at Liverpool weren't all that memorable. 

The Dutchman only scored 12 league goals at Anfield, but some of his most notable moments came against Manchester United. 

Indeed, the forward scored his first goal of the 2008/09 campaign against the Red Devils, coming on to net the winner in a 2-1 victory.

Incredibly, it was Rafael Benitez's first win over Liverpool's rivals, with the hosts at Anfield having trailed after just three minutes following Carlos Tevez's side-footed opener. 

However, Babel's most iconic encounter with United was still to come.

In 2011, he and his team went down 1-0 at Old Trafford courtesy of....a good old-fashioned Manchester United penalty. What else? 

It was converted by Ryan Giggs after Dimitar Berbatov had dived theatrically just 30 seconds after the first whistle. Daniel Agger had hardly touched him, but Howard Webb pointed to the spot. 

Webb later made the decision to send off Steven Gerrard for lunging in on Michael Carrick. 

Babel's tweet 

The match official was not exactly the toast of Merseyside, with Kenny Dalglish - who was making his return to the dugout - branding the penalty "a joke". 

Babel went even further on Twitter, writing: "And they call him one of the best referees? That's a joke. SMH [Shaking my Head]." For good measure, he added a mocked-up picture of Webb in a United shirt. 


On the back of it, he would earn the unusual distinction of becoming the first Premier League player to be punished by the FA for a tweet. 

We bring this up now, not only because it's an essential piece of trivia for your Zoom quizzes, but because it's exactly 10 years since he was fined over the post. 

It was a landmark case, with countless players since having been penalised for their social media activity. Back then, it was unheard of, though Babel must have known he couldn't make such an accusation against Webb and get off scot-free. 

He was fined £10,000. He later tweeted an apology. 

"Sorry Howard Webb," he wrote. "My apology if they take my posted pic seriously. This is just an emotional reaction after losing an important game."


Webb was at the very peak of his career, having refereed the World Cup final the previous year and being given an MBE by the Queen. 

Will it be the likes of Bruno Fernandes or Mo Salah who decide Liverpool's top-of-the-table clash with United this time - or will Paul Tierney take centre-stage? 

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