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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

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.



Blogger SKG said...

man utd were far better than liverpool and liverpool deserved to lose. 14 points behind is a big gap but i don't think liverpool are that far off challenging for the title. i like liverpool's new formation that have stuck with this past month. clearly however they need to replace kuyt with someone half decent to play on the right of torres. they also need agger back cos skirtel and hyppia are not that good.

3/25/2008 6:08 pm

Blogger T said...

Redsman, in the immediate context of the media furore and FA reaction to the Ashley Cole 'disrespect' incident it was simply stupid to Mascherano to act as he did.

After his booking he seemed to remonstrate with the ref when it was a clear booking. He then had at least one more go at the ref before the Torres incident in which he ran in and confronted the ref with obvious dissent.

To do this when in the days prior to the game Mike Riley was accused in the media of 'bottling it' by not sending Cole off, and the FA and PFA were making public their aim for players to show more respect to refs, was simply asking for trouble.

Not only was it stupid for this reason - but as you say he let his team down because the likelihood of a comeback with ten men at OT is very low.

I sympathise with you being down after the match. I would have felt aggrieved too because it was so needless.

3/25/2008 8:41 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

SKG, its interesting to play the 4-5-1 with Torres, it helps to involve the midfield more in providing and scoring. Yet our midfield is too defensive in providing goals as well as passes. The top three have midfielders who do both, which is the difference. The players.

Torres should have one other with him, either Crouch or Babel for my money. Babel shows good greed for goal, practically loves to come inside and smack the ball. Provides for Torres, links well with Gerrard. This team is five players from challenging for the title. A number of them need to move on.

But this article is on the Mascherano incident. Why did he blow like that? It was like a movie, all arranged, players come out, big match, looking to challenge, rivalry, it had it all. Then a clear error and we're behind but before and after it Mascherano was haranguing the referee. It just doesnt make sense for him to do it before this game in particular. Bizarre.


3/25/2008 9:26 pm

Anonymous Alex Butterfield said...

I go back and forth in my mind blaming Mascherano and blaming the Ref.

The truth is though, that Man Utd were and are the better team, and they were winning even at 11v11. So I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. It's too easy for them to nullify our threats because we only have two. In the first meeting of the season the way Rio had Torres in his pocket showed up our reliance on him and Gerrard.

Back to the issue. It disgusts me when people (in any context) are punished to set a precedent or an example. And although Mascherano was sticking his neck out he didn't deserve to get the chop the way he did.

I'll ignore his first yellow card, it was his first tackle of the game, it was mistimed but he pulled out and didn't actually make much contact, if any. I would have warned him, but Bennett wanted to get control of the game. (Why do refs think booking players gets them control of the game? All you have to do is make good decisions and let the game flow and players and fans respect you)

Like everyone I get annoyed with players surrounding refs but I think the media has blown the issue out of proportion. Why can't players talk to refs? They shouldn't be allowed to be aggressive or disrespectful but to question a decision shouldn't be such a big deal. And certainly not to ask for an explanation - refs should be obliged to answer such questions.

Mascherano was astounded that Torres was booked for complaining at being kicked about - what he didn't know was that Torres was actually booked for swearing directly at the ref (I remember times when that warranted a straight red! Thankfully it's considered a yellow now - after all they are all adults, and words are just words). however Mascherano was booked for asking why! Pathetic, the ref should have just said. "I booked him for swearing at me, get on with the game." Not stood blankly and taken out his cards.

I play amateur footie and I'm grateful that anyone should be a ref at this level, but nevertheless the refs are often pretty weak. Last week I was kicked up in the air in the area, and the ref saw it and awarded a foul. However he bottled it and gave an indirect freekick, when I questioned why it wasn't a penalty he stubbornly stayed tight lipped. I can forgive this because it doesnt ultimately matter - but Liverpool v Man U matters!

And that ref gets paid decent money and is well trained and backed and trusted, and he should not be making the same mistakes that amateurs make.

Everyone keeps talking about 'in the wake of the Ashley Cole affair...' - I couldnt care less about the 'current climate' there are rules set out by the FA and the refs should play by them just as the players should. You dont view incidents in context you apply the rules, thats all a ref is there for.

(As for the Cole incident, he was being smart. he knew his tackle deserved red, but he thought that if he immediately reacted as though he hadnt touched the guy and that he'd dived and played the victim he might get away with it - and it worked. He should have been sent off, for the tackle, and failing that he should have got a second yellow for petulance and delaying the re-start - but how this can be compared to what Mascherano did is beyond me. Mascherano did the equivelant of asking the ref how long was left and he was booked because he did it with a grin on his face.)

3/28/2008 7:23 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says...Totally agree with you Redsman. Not many teams will come awy from Old Trafford with (a ) a fair set of Officials (b) More than ten men

My evaluation of the game was that yes Manure were playing very well but Mascherano would have broken up many of the slick moves that they put together once he had gone off. They remind me of the school bullies thatare happy to rub someones nose in it if that someone is outnumbered, and has the authority on there side. The penalty rate against at Ot is a telling point as is the total of visiting players send off in big matches???

The problems we now see ie; Chelski players chasing the refs and stopping crooks like Cashley being sent off, and banned. Just look at the difference when AFC's Diaby committed an act of bad timing...instant (and quite right) dismissal.

The answer is easy...the ref should have instant access tothe offending manager who is warned that any more back chat and more than one player will be sent off.

You watch what happens then!

I just hope that the Pool play badly Weds & saturday.

4/01/2008 4:17 pm


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