Mascherano dismissal paved way for Liverpool woe
I have hardly felt as low as I did on Sunday afternoon after the Man Utd v Liverpool game. Wayne Rooney said it made little difference to the game with Javier Mascherano being sent off. In other words, Man Utd would have still beaten Liverpool with eleven men. Wrong. Some have called it an 'outclass' of a performance by Utd and this Liverpool fan will hold no bias in stating right from wrong. But to say the sending off made little difference was wrong.
Chances came and went for both sides, more so Utd with Rooney onto a sweet ball and Jamie Carragher beaten only to have his effort blocked by Pepe Reina. Rooney was the cusp of Utd's chances and when he was found on the right by Paul Scholes to cross for Wes Brown to shoulder in the opening goal, that was more down to Reina's goalkeeping error than anything else. Liverpool were behind but not down, not out. The game at 1-0 going into the half time break would have poised it more for Liverpool to come at Utd. Who knows how the pressure would have turned with eleven a side.
As for Mascherano, he only has himself to blame, no one else. Constantly badgering the referee at any opportunity paid no favours for him and his challenge on Scholes was worthy of the booking. So when he comes across to yet again remonstrate with Steve Bennett, despite Xabi Alonso trying to fend him away from the referee, the writing was hugely on the wall. The question was, at that stage, had Mascherano said anything to Bennett at that time to warrant the booking? The swearing allegedly occurred throughout the game but he was not sent off then. In asking why was Fernando Torres booked, he was then shown the second yellow. So is he not allowed to speak to the referee to ask a question? For Ryan Babel claimed he said nothing to Bennett of a rude nature.
However, you can look at it from any angle, the crucial factor is whilst being on a yellow, Mascherano should have treaded much more carefully. If a protest need be made, let another do it. Frankly some of the players wanted to get on with the game to get the goal back before half time, not push the referee. Torres was being kicked at when he won the free-kick and said to the referee how it took him so long to actually make a decision, considering other moments of rough treatment. So Torres was booked for that.
Something in me says Bennett could have brought Mascherano to one side and said to him to button it, calm down and make any protests more civil OR speak to the captain. That's discretion, which I felt Bennett did not display in the moment to help alleviate the issue. Yet let's not forget Mascherano had a responsibility to himself, the team and the fans. And for one of a character worthy at the most a yellow card in any game, for one who has been instrumental in central midfield, he did let us all down.