It has been announced today that Javier Mascherano has been dished out a charge from the FA for improper conduct. The club has until 6pm tomorrow to respond to the charges, which could see Mascherano serve anything between a 3-5 match ban, for what should have just been a 1 match ban for a two yellow card sending off.
Manchester United beat Liverpool for the fifth successive time on Sunday, the first time this has happened in the history of the club’s meeting. The main talking point was Javier Mascherano’s sending off though, after the Argie midget was too thick to keep his gob shut.
Rafael Benitez has managed to defend Mascherano though, playing the ignorance card. Let’s just have a quick look at Benitez’s post match comments and see how much fun we can have with them.
1. “He was booked earlier for a tackle and did not understand why.” Maybe somebody should explain the rules of football to Mascherano and Mr “Rafalution”. When Mascherano slid in on Paul Scholes, studs showing, and didn’t make any contact with the ball, the referee had very little choice but to put him in the book. In a game between rivals that could easily boil over, it was important the referee showed that late challenges would not be accepted.
2. “He (Mascherano) just did not understand. I was trying to say to him ‘finish, finish’ – but we are still very disappointed with the decision.” So, clearly Benitez wasn’t the only man in the ground who couldn’t see Mascherano was asking for trouble, otherwise he wouldn’t have been telling the Argie to “finish”. The referee points to the tunnel, clearly indicating if he doesn’t shut up, he will be off. Mascherano doesn’t take the hint and gets a second yellow card for it. What’s not to understand and what’s to be disappointed about?
3. “I do not think that just to ‘ask’ is a big problem in the end.” Me neither. To go up to the referee and say “Hey ref, what’s that all about?” is not a big problem. In a period of 44 minutes, to tell the referee to fuck off on a number of occasions, to run 20 yards to mouth off at the ref concerning an incident that had nothing to do with him, to persist on getting in the referee’s face despite being told if he doesn’t stop he will walk, IS a big problem.
The claims of innocence are quite frankly embarrassing. Maybe Benitez is naive, or maybe he thinks everybody else is, but Mascherano had no place charging over to Bennett just to ‘ask’ what the problem was and if he had shut up when Bennett told him to, he wouldn’t have been sent off. Well, not until the second half at least, because with the head he had on him that day, it wouldn’t have been at all surprising to see him walk for some incident or another after the break.
4. “The player knows he has made a mistake, but in this kind of game to be sent off just for ‘asking’, I find it a difficult decision to understand.” “Javier was sent off for dissent, but to be sent off for asking the official something is a surprise. He knows he made a mistake, but in a big game like this it is difficult to understand.” “If you want to win you must have passion in a big game, and sometimes you make mistakes, but he was only asking the referee about a bad tackle.” “I have talked to him and he knows it was a mistake. But he was booked earlier for a tackle and did not understand why.” Ok, we can both recognise Mascherano made a mistake, Benitez. Mascherano and Liverpool paid the price for that mistake. What’s the problem?
10 MINS: Despite a blatant late tackle on Paul Scholes, Mascherano can clearly be seen screaming “Fuck off, fuck off”. Bennett issues him with a yellow card. The correct decision.
11 MINS: Smarting over the booking, the Argie can again be seen saying “Fuck off, fuck off” prompting Bennett to respond by putting his finger to his lips and telling the star to be quiet.
15 MINS: Mascherano then calls for Bennett to book Anderson for an innocuous trip on Steven Gerrard by pulling an imaginary card from his pocket. He is beginning to tread very thin ice and pushing his luck.
23 MINS: Now the Argie gives away a free-kick for taking out Ryan Giggs by the touchline. But then he looks towards the linesman and points to his eyes — as if to suggest: You need glasses.
36 MINS: In Bennett’s face again, whingeing and complaining even though Liverpool are given a free-kick.
38 MINS: Complains despite his foul on Ronaldo.
44 MINS: Torres is booked for dissent, after reacting badly to a foul. Mascherano runs 15-20 yards to question the referee on the decision.
Mascherano had red card written all over him. Watching the highlights on Match of the Day only confirmed what could be seen from the stands on Sunday. He was looking for trouble and somebody should have taken him aside to have a word long before the second yellow was shown.
One argument on MOTD was that referee Steven Bennett should have had this word with the feisty player, however, there’s nothing to suggest Bennett didn’t have this word. He clearly signalled to Mascherano before handing out the second yellow that he would be going down the tunnel if he didn’t bite his tongue. Mascherano didn’t heed this advice.
Another argument is that it is Steven Gerrard’s responsibility, or Rafa Benitez’s responsibility. It was painfully obvious that Mascherano was about to boil over, why weren’t the senior men at the club intervening? Benitez did tell Mascherano to “finish”, but the Argie ignored him, and paid the price for it. Gerrard was nowhere to be seen (I mean in regards to Mascherano, but fine, during the match in general too) and I am certain that Xavi Alonso will be wishing he’d held on tighter to Mascherano after he ran from 20 yards to get in the referee’s face!
The Liverpool Post responded to the incident, highlighting the stupidity of Mascherano to behave the way he did. “The Argentinian does have to take responsibility for his own actions. If a referee is dishing out a yellow card for back-chat to one of your team-mates, you don’t run half the width of the pitch to join in the dissent when you’re already on a booking yourself.” The Liverpool Echo spoke with the same sentiment, saying, “if television viewers could see the dismissal coming, Mascherano could not. Torres had been booked for arguing seconds earlier, so when the midfielder continued the debate there was going to be only one winner.”
Just days after the fuss concerning Ashley Cole’s reaction to the yellow card he received at Spurs filled the back pages, Sir Alex Ferguson can’t believe Mascherano would choose to behave in such a way. “Dissent is dissent,” he said. “I don’t know why Mascherano came from central midfield to argue with the referee. With all the things that have happened this week with Ashley Cole, there has been a lot of attention on dissent and this was dissent.”
Everton have gone off the boil more recently, however Liverpool are now only 2 points ahead of their Merseyside rivals, both fighting it out for a 4th placed finish, and a spot in next season’s Champions League. Liverpool take on Everton this weekend, months after the blues were robbed by referee Mark Clattenburg in the last derby, with it all to play for.
Steven Gerrard is the only midfielder to play in more games than Mascherano, playing a crucial holding role for the dippers. It was only the day before our match on Sunday that Benitez was hailing the Argie as a brilliant signing with a fantastic mentality. If the FA give out a three match ban that it means that Javier will also miss the Arsenal and Blackburn games. If it is a five match ban, as some reports have speculated, it means he can only feature in another two league games this season.
With the six points United have taken off the dippers this season, coupled with Mascherano’s extended ban, do you think our hateful rivals are now set to miss out on their Champions League place for next season?