Mascherano defends refs, backs Guardiola

Mascherano defends refs


In recent weeks Barca have aped main rivals Real Madrid in criticising decisions made by referees, with Gerard Pique particularly outspoken after he was sent off against Sporting Gijon in a Liga match and Daniel Alves claiming the club were in a "losing battle" against officials.

Much like Real last season, Barca are trailing their bitter foes in second place, and - having adopted the moral high ground then - comments from the club are not dissimilar to those made by Los Merengues when they were losing the title battle.

Mascherano, however, feels there is no plot to undermine Barca and puts his full trust in refs and their assistants.

"We only talk about referees because journalists ask us – you will find the answers help sell newspapers, sell football analysis," he was quoted as saying by Reuters in Spain.

"That is how business is conducted, we should expect this. Throughout my career I have had referee decisions benefit or hurt my teams – in the same way that players make decisions that benefit or hurt their teams.

"It’s all part of the game, and when I hear they want to introduce technology into the sport I fear the game would lose its essence."

Mascherano, who has been converted from a holding midfielder to a centre-back since joining from Liverpool two years ago, also asked fans and the press to respect coach Pep Guardiola’s reluctance to sign a long-term contract at the club.

Guardiola, who has rolling one-year deals, is constantly reported to be on the brink of leaving the Camp Nou, but Mascherano believes he simply wants flexibility for himself and the club.

"Guardiola has won the support of all levels at the club, not because of the number of titles he has won but by the manner in which he has done so," he said.

"Without Guardiola, I would not be here and I would not have been able to adapt to my new position.

"Who wants the most successful coach in the club’s history to leave? No-one is ready for that.

"But Guardiola is an adult, and therefore we must respect his wishes to take his time over whether he stays."

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