• Liverpool manager wades into debate on two-footed tackles
• 'He hasn't come in from behind so I don't see the problem'
Kenny Dalglish has defended Glen Johnson's challenge that led to a row between Steven Gerrard and Roberto Mancini at Manchester City and believes referees should be allowed the freedom to protect football as a contact sport.
The City manager and the Liverpool captain argued at the end of Wednesday's Carling Cup semi-final first leg over Mancini's insistence that Johnson's two-footed challenge on Joleon Lescott was worse than Vincent Kompany's tackle on Nani in the FA Cup defeat by Manchester United which left the City defender serving a four-match ban.
Dalglish insisted at the time that he had not seen the incident but, following a review, believes Johnson dived to intercept a pass to Lescott rather than challenge the England centre-half and has been wrongly dragged into the furore over two-footed tackles.
"Glen's tackle is not a problem for us because there was no one directly in front of him. He hasn't come in from behind, so I don't see the problem," the Liverpool manager said.
"There's always an interpretation of what the tackle is but I would have thought that, if it's a tackle, then there has got to be a challenge. If I'm sliding in to clear the ball and there's no challenge, then it's not a tackle, is it? If someone is straight in front of me and I'm sliding in, then that's a tackle as someone is trying to challenge me. If you come in from behind and there's someone between you and the ball, then it's the same thing. But if there's a clear pitch in front of you and you can reach the ball, then reach it. People say he was showing his studs but you always have to show studs when you slide in."
Dalglish believes the controversy over the Kompany and Johnson challenges could have been avoided had referees been left the freedom to interpret the intent behind tackles rather than impose the letter of the law. "I hope tackling is not being outlawed because it's necessary," he added. "Obviously it's a difficult thing as well to prove the intent of someone. In a lot of these tackles I don't think there's any intent to hurt anyone.
"It's not gone 100% but the tackle which was a deliberate, over-the-top attempt to hurt someone is the one most people wanted outlawed. To be fair they have done a decent job with that, but they can't go completely the other way and get rid of any contact and any tackles. At the same time you have to be mindful about how you tackle.
"Referees have to have an opinion as well. It keeps coming back to intent and it's very difficult to prove someone's intent. "Like wee Jay [Spearing], at Fulham. His only intent was to play the ball. He was totally focused on the ball but because he made contact with the player with his trailing leg he got a three-game ban. I think you get spats of things like this and then it phases away. I think this one will be phased out."
Dalglish, meanwhile, has revealed Liverpool intend to offer an ambassadorial role to Jamie Carragher when his playing career at Anfield ends. Gerrard signed a contract extension on Thursday that included a position as club ambassador when his playing days are over and Carragher will be offered a similar post in recognition of his service and success at Liverpool. "If they want to stay here then we should do what we can to accommodate them," said Dalglish. "They are fantastic assets to this football club and it is something we should develop."