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  • A Yahoo! User Mar 24, 2008 22:36 Flag

    Soccerlens on Mascerano & Andy Gray

    Steve Bennett had no choice but to give out the first yellow card. It was a reckless lunge early in the game, and in a high pressured local derby like this the referee has to take control early. Following his yellow card, Mascherano walked towards Bennett repeatedly saying, “F**k off.” It was clear and unacceptable, but Bennett showed leniency by booking him and warning him.
    Mascherano then proceeded to commit two further fouls, either of which could arguably have been carded, and hurl abuse towards the referee when the free kicks were given. The warning Steve Bennett gave Mascherano could not have been clearer.
    Then Steve Bennett decided to yellow card Fernando Torres. Now, this yellow card did seem harsh but we couldn’t see or hear what Torres actually said to the referee. Nor, of course, could Mascherano who decided to run fully twenty yards to remonstrate with Bennett.
    Watching the game, I said, “He’s going to get sent off.” Alonso tried to grab his teammate and stop him from being foolish because he knew he would be sent off. Arbeloa looked skywards and annoyed because he knew his teammate was making a big mistake. Steve Bennett told Mascherano to go away or he would send him off. He continued to stand there and argue. He was sent off. Shock!
    It is clear from the TV pictures that Mascherano was simply repeatedly saying “What’s happening.” He wasn’t swearing and he wasn’t, on that occasion, being particularly aggressive. In itself, maybe the yellow card in those circumstances would have been a little harsh. However, this was far from an isolated incident and Steve Bennett had already showed patience with the player and could have sent him off before he did. The fact that he ran so far and fought off a teammate to carry on the argument meant that Bennett had little choice.
    The Liverpool players knew it, the Liverpool staff knew it and millions of people watching on television knew it.
    At half time we were taken to the Sky Sports Studio studio where Richard Keys was talking to Jamie Redknapp and Andy Gray. Redknapp, a Liverpool fan and ex-player said what we were all thinking. Mascherano was stupid in the extreme and gave Steve Bennett no choice in the current climate.
    Then Andy Gray, who I think has grown to believe his own publicity, starts to rant on about the referee losing control, the player simply asking a question, football going down the pan and it not being a ‘man’s game’ anymore. Total and utter rubbish Mr Gray. In your position, you should show a more responsible attitude.
    Andy Gray said that the referees have a responsibility to take control. He said they should be ‘big enough’ to deal with situations. He suggested that Steve Bennett had lost control and ‘bottled’ the situation. Surely Bennett did quite the opposite? He repeatedly warned a player who was showing him no respect over a period of minutes and took control by sending him off and sending a strong message to players that this behaviour will no longer be tolerated.
    Instead of taking the opportunity to reinforce the point that the whole football world has been making, as Jamie Redknapp and Tony Adams did on Sky, Andy Gray decided to fly in the face of common sense and criticise the referee and defend the player.
    I was terribly disappointed with Sky Sports’ ‘Voice of football’. I think he did himself, Sky Sports and the Premier League generally a disservice with his, ‘it’s a man’s game’ attitude. Constant fouling, swearing at the referee and constant harrassment of the officials. Fighting off teammates who know you are being stupid. Which of these actions are the one’s that Andy Gray defines as ‘manly’ and which of them are the ones that he defends?

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    • An excellent post as usual 'devon'. Going back to your original point, I was also surprised by Gray. He was given plenty of chances to revise his point of view but kept it going in the following programme, by infering the game was poor and that he didn't have a chence to see Torres and Gerrard in action together. As others have pointed out , this incident happened towards the end of a very one-sided half. It didn't help Liverpool's cause, but the game was going past them anyway. I wonder exactly when Gray ( and his co-presenter) became quite so anti-United. For many years they kept it under control, but maybe Fergie's swearing at one of their interviewers over Ronaldo's treatment has pushed them over the edge. They are also markedly more reserved in their praise of Ronaldo than all their guests.
      Anyway I think Mr Gray has looked a bit of a fool in the face of otherwise universal condemnation of Mascherano in the press. I understand Liverpool supporter's fustration , but it should be directed at their own stupid player. In the past I have felt similar fustration at Keane and Scholes for daft behaviour which has led to dropped points. It happens.

    • Think we'll have to agree to disagree.

      I did not see the first Masch booking as a clear cut bookable case. First challenge by the player, with studs deliberatly kept down, is marginal at best, no matter how much Scholes put into the display (bit hard to take as he was lucky himself to not rake Arbeloa with his own studs moments earlier, but got away without even a foul as the Spainish defender was able to jump over the challenge) But as I said, lets agree to disagree.

      I also don't see asking a ref what's happening, as a bookable offense. IMO, if the only way a ref can take control of a player asking him a question, is to card him, I'd say he's got a less than strong grip. But I'll also agree to disagree.

      I did also not see the other bookable fouls you mention. If questionable obstruction against Giggs is a bookable offense at OT, then you really need to make sure you hand out the unique rule book your using to all visiting players. But again, I'll agree to disagree.

      I'm sure you'll get plenty of support for your views on this board, but that is often the case in an echo chamber. I'm not trying to use the Masch sending off as an excuse for Liverpools poor performance on Sunday, but should I be surprised that fans who so often compain about the treatment of their own players by refs, now think that the letter of the law was so flawlessly and consistently applied in this case.

      • 2 Replies to dsteer_lfc_68
      • You're misrepresenting what happened. As Devon said, Mascherano was in the referee's face repeatedly, and aggressively, swearing at him at every decision. He was warned to be quiet, and given several oppurtunities. I don't know that the other fouls he commited (like on Giggs) were bookable, but they were fouls and free-kicks, and didn't require him to start badgering the ref every time. My flatmate watching the match thought he was acting like he was on drugs, and he certainly was doing a good impression of a coke-head to my eyes (don't worry, I'm not trying to say he's been taking it, just that he was acting like it).

        Point is, if he'd behaved himself better, he probably wouldn't have been carded again for what he did. It may not be bad to ask the referee what's going on, but if you've been telling him to 'f*** off' repeatedly for half an hour, it's the kind of thing that would be the final straw.

      • Exactly dsteer. Inconsistency is the word.
        Im not saying that masch didnt largely bring this on himself but when you watch games and you see the likes of Ashley cole screaming in a refs face (after commiting a serious foul) and not being carded or dealt with by the FA, or wayne Rooney squaring nose to nose with a linesman and not being carded and not being dealt with by the fa , and countless other examples of far worse dissent, you can see that Masch was used as a scapegoat