Tim Cahill lost his appeal against a red card in the Merseyside derby, which means it is official - it's OK to cheat, but it's not OK to fractionally mistime a tackle.
John Terry got off the hook last week after rugby tackling Manchester City's Jo as he ran towards goal.
It can only be because it was a textbook challenge around the waist - the kind of which any public schoolmaster would heartily approve.
Either that or a different set of rules apply to the England captain. Let us not forget that Terry was actually sent off, before the punishment was overturned and the referee responsible - Mark Halsey - banished to League Two.
Cahill's tackle on Xabi Alonso was late and obviously a foul, but there did not appear to be malicious intent - despite Alvaro Arbeloa's attempt to amputate the Aussie's left leg at the knee a couple of minutes earlier.
In the modern game, red cards are clearly awarded not to stamp out foul play, but to outlaw any act that might result in somebody getting hurt.
Football is an imprecise game, and players need to know they can get things a bit wrong without being condemned to an early bath.
You might as well send Robbie Keane off every time he shins a half-volley into the crowd, or David James every time he drops a cross.
Obviously this is part of the wider push from football's authorities to turn the game into an 11-a-side version of Futsal.
Speak to a Spaniard or an Italian, and they will wax lyrical about the fast, physical style of play on show in the Premier League.
In particular, they love English referees, who let things flow instead of wrecking the game by blowing for a foul every 43 seconds and dishing out 12 cards per match.
And is it any coincidence that the games where attendances remain high are in countries like England and Germany, where the sport consists of 20-odd blokes chasing around at high speed and smashing into each other?
Meanwhile, Serie A and La Liga games are 90 niggly minutes of sideways passing and stepovers played out in front of two-thirds empty stadia.
Quickly brushing past the enormous and unfair nature of that generalisation, Early Doors maintains that people like football's physical side.
Injuries - in all sports - are a fact of life, and referees would be better employed ensuring the game is played in the right spirit than trying to stop anybody breaking a toenail.
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If Alex Ferguson needed a reminder of why he usually rests his big name players for easy games, he got one last night as Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes both got injured.
Rooney's ankle strain gives Fergie the perfect opportunity to withdraw him from the England squad for the qualifiers against Belarus and Kazakhstan.
He might even book him in for an operation just to make sure - it's about time the boy had something done about his sticky-outy ears.
Wazza's absence from the Kazakhstan game would probably be just as well, given his appearance in a Borat-style mankini on his stag do this summer.
Scholes's knee injury looked worse, but the worst of it is that the midfielder has officially reached the age at which any moderately-serious injury is automatically deemed 'career-threatening'.
Still, at least Dimitar Berbatov looked animated when he scored his first goal for the club, didn't he?
Berbatov's inaugural celebration was to just stand there. This was no Cantona - chest puffed out, arms outstrecthed, amazed at his own brilliance.
No, Berbatov just looked a bit sullen. Another ray of sunshine for the Old Trafford dressing room.
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Early Doors takes its hat off to Ruben Noble-Lazarus, who is not only the youngest man/boy to play a league game, but also boasts the finest name this side of Brazilian journeymen Mozart, Gladstone, Wellington and George Lucas.
Noble-Lazarus, who sounds more like a climbing plant than a footballer, played the last six minutes of Barnsley's 3-0 defeat at Ipswich yesterday evening aged 15 years and 45 days.
Barnsley manager Simon Davey sounded like a bit too much like an overprotecting dad defending his not-very-good offspring in his assessment of Noble-Lazarus's 360 seconds of fame: "He did well when he came on. He didn't give the ball away."
Tykes message boards have been going crazy about Noble-Lazarus for some time. Well, about three days actually.
After watching him score a hat-trick for the club's academy at the weekend, one fan was moved to declare: "Today I saw the future, and the future is Reuben Noble-Lazarus."
Frankly, ED would be delighted with any version of the future with such a splendid name, but has always been deeply cynical of child prodigies.
They are normally good because they develop earlier than other kids. Freddy Adu was good when he was 13 (going on 30?) because he was the size of a man, and he got to play against small children.
Even Darren Moore would have looked good in such circumstances.
When he was 16, Wayne Rooney already had the beard of a man five times his age. He hasn't really improved since.
Manchester City fans are realising something similar about Micah Richards, whose big growth spurt is almost certainly behind him.
The same may well be true of Noble-Lazarus, who was playing for Barnsley's Under-18s when he was 12.
ED hopes it is wrong but it fears that, after smashing their jointly-held record for youth, Noble-Lazarus could go on to be as famous as Albert Geldard and Ken Roberts.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It was the most comfortable I've been away from home since I came here. We worried them when we had the ball. I asked the players to go out to perform and I think the first-half performance, plus 10 minutes of the second half, was excellent against a right good side. I actually enjoyed watching a game away from home." Who wants to tell Gordon Strachan that Celtic lost at Villarreal?
FOREIGN VIEW: "I earn 14 million a year!" - Jose Mourinho reveals the enormous size of his pay packet to Corriere dello Sport. That's £11m in old money. The special one is considerably richer than you.
COMING UP: Chelsea run a gauntlet made entirely of vampires and cheeky girls as they face Transylvanian stereotypes Cluj. And Liverpool play everyone's least favourite perennial quarter-finalists, PSV Eindhoven. Both games, and six others, kick off at 19.45 UK time.