"They [Liverpool players] were always in there with him and maybe he wants to be friendly with them," said Moyes, whose mood will not be helped by the two pages in Gerrard's autobiography in which he eulogises Clattenburg and Graham Poll as "the best refs around . . . top drawer . . . never influenced by the occasion".
Moyes' ire began to be fuelled when Tony Hibbert invited a red card for pulling down Gerrard inside the penalty area for the derby's pivotal moment, a card that had initially appeared to be yellow. Of more genuine grievance was the subsequent failure to dismiss Dirk Kuyt for a two-footed lunge on Phil Neville and the unfathomable decision not to award the third clear spot-kick of the afternoon when Carragher dragged Joleon Lescott to the floor in the final act.
"That is as tough as I have ever had it from a referee, especially in a big game. Just incredible," added Moyes, who denied further evidence of officialdom's leniency towards the top four but could not help departing with the cynical: "Didn't he go to Asia with Liverpool for the Asian Cup this summer?"