Premier League - Jan Molby: Handshake ritual more trouble than it's worth

Players refusing handshakes before games shows the pre-match ritual up as a waste of time, writes former Liverpool midfielder Jan Molby.

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Premier League - Jan Molby: Handshake ritual more trouble than it's worth
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Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers walks past John Terry (2nd L) of Chelsea without shaking his hand before the start of their English Premier League soccer match at Loftus Road in London, September 15, 2012 (Reuters)

I must admit that I do not agree with the pre-match ritual of handshakes between teams before every Premier League game.

I find it rather pointless as it does not mean the players will have any more respect for each other just because they do it, especially if it is only because they have been told to do it.

It is just another part of the Premier League circus, something which is done because it looks good on television but doesn't serve any real purpose. What to me seems like something designed to do little more than jazz things up is now more trouble than it's worth.

Having said that, as long as it's a mandatory requirement for every player to do the handshake before the match then they should do it. That goes for Queens Park Rangers' Anton Ferdinand last weekend against Chelsea - when he refused to shake hands with John Terry and Ashley Cole - and the same should be true for Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra when Liverpool host Manchester United this coming Sunday.

There are serious issues at the heart of the situations involving both players, but they should be able to rise above it and do what is asked of them. Refusing to shake someone's hand is not going to change whatever injustice they feel. If anything it just exacerbates the situation.

The standard response from managers on the subject is to say that it is up to the players to decide what they do, but I disagree. The players are representing the clubs, and as such they have to do what is required of them when carrying out their jobs.

Suarez has been told by those inside the club to resist the urge to snub Evra again, as he did last season. It did not sit well last time when he said to everyone that he would shake Evra's hand only to refuse to once he got out there. All it did was upset many of those who are supposed to supporting him, whether that be from the stands or within the club.

The Suarez situation is poorly-timed given that it is a very sensitive time for everyone connected with Liverpool at the moment. The United game will be the first at Anfield since the latest report into the Hillsborough disaster came out. Given the usual enmity between these two clubs, it would be great if something so trivial did not come to overshadow the occasion.

We saw that happen at Loftus Road on Saturday, when everyone was watching to see what happened in the handshakes before kick-off as much as the actual game itself. In the end, it was still one of the main talking points after a goalless draw.

It is up to the Premier League to decide whether or not they should keep this ritual going. Perhaps they do not see it that way. Perhaps they think that something which generates such big talking points can only be good for the league. After all, they could have got rid of it in the summer after the various controversies but decided to stubbornly persist with it.

But I would much rather get rid of the ritual altogether before more people start to undermine it and it becomes even more of a joke.

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