Johnson - Evra set Suarez up

Reds defender claims Evra manufactured handshake incident

Glen Johnson: Liverpool defender has defended Luis Suarez over handshake incident

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Liverpool defender Glen Johnson claims Manchester United's Patrice Evra did not really want to shake the hand of Luis Suarez at Old Trafford last month.

Uruguay international Suarez seemingly refused to shake hands with Evra ahead of the Premier League clash, which the hosts won 2-1, after he was found guilty of racially abusing the defender.

The striker was widely criticised for the action, with both the player and club apologising for the incident after the match, but Johnson believes Evra was at fault.

Clever

"Luis didn't shake his hand because Evra's hand was down there. What else is Luis supposed to do? Would you go to shake someone's hand if their hand is way down there by their side? Course not."

Glen Johnson

Quotes of the week

"Evra was clever at Old Trafford," he told the Daily Mail.

"Because - I'm not being funny - but if I wanted to shake your hand I would stick it right out in front of me like that. But if my hand is down here, almost by my side, then it's because I really don't want to shake your hand.

"Luis didn't shake his hand because Evra's hand was down there. What else is Luis supposed to do? Would you go to shake someone's hand if their hand is way down there by their side? Course not. But then, because Luis didn't do it, Evra has pulled him back by his arm as he walked on, as if to say to everybody: "Look, I wanted to shake his hand and he didn't..."

"He's following Luis with his eyes as if to say: "Right he's gone, he's gone (past me) so I'll pull him back now..." Evra probably stayed up all night thinking about how to do that. The whole thing was ridiculous."

Liverpool wore T-shirts supporting Suarez over the racism incident as they warmed up before a game at Wigan in December, sparking plenty of backlash.

But Johnson feels the gesture was blown out of proportion, adding: "The evidence was Luis' word against Evra's.

"I'm not saying Evra is lying but it's his word against Luis', isn't it? So how did it all turn out to be so strong in Evra's favour? I work with the lad every day. There is no way he said that.

"With the media these days and the way it was going to be blown up, maybe the T-shirts thing wasn't the right thing to do. How should I say this? We wore them to show our support for Luis. It wasn't to send a message to everyone else. It was just for him.

"It seemed to come across that we were making a point. We weren't. It was the club's idea. But obviously we all agreed. We didn't really think about how people would react."

Criticised

Ex-Manchester United defender Paul McGrath used social networking site Twitter to criticise Johnson for wearing the T-shirt in support of Suarez but the Liverpool defender has accused him of racism for singling him out.

Johnson claimed: "The McGrath thing ... that's actually racist. Saying what he said is racist. He is only saying that to me because I was the only black lad wearing the T-shirt.

"He's targeting me because of my colour."