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Red mist footballers

Ben Patey on the day Javier Mascherano's backchat ensured Liverpool's slim title hopes are over

Published on March 25th 2008.

Red mist footballers

There’s surely only a smattering of people left, who will still contest Javier Mascherano’s red card at the weekend. Implausibly, one of those few is Mascherano himself, who obviously doesn’t believe that back-chatting the ref for forty five minutes warrants anything other than a sympathetic pat on the back. Perhaps Mascherano would have had a better shot of sympathy had he booked himself in for some more lessons on the English language. That way he may have at least been able to get his point over to the referee in a more articulate way than “fuck off, fuck off”.

The stupidity of Mascherano was further highlighted because in the days leading up to the fixture, all the talk was about the proposed clamp down on disrespect towards referees.

OK, when Mascherano received his second yellow, he only asked Steve Bennett “what is happening?” But look at the incidents preceding this and it’s clear he should have been sent off well before this. Let’s look at the evidence.

After he got booked for a tenth minute tackle on Paul Scholes, the Argentine continuously told Bennett to fuck off. A minute later he was still ranting with a frenzied grin on his face resulting in him resembling a manic ape and Bennett putting his fingers to his lips in a bid to keep him quiet.

After Anderson tripped Steven Gerrard in the fifteenth minute, Mascherano wielded an imaginary card signalling that he wanted the Brazilian booked.

A few minutes later and Mascherano was at it again after giving away a foul for an obstruction on Giggs. This time he turned his attention to the linesman pointing to his eyes and implying the official was blind.

More abuse was directed at the referee when Mascherano was reprimanded for a foul on Ronaldo. He continued to hold up imaginary cards and boil over about any decision given, even against United. When Torres was booked for dissent, just before half-time, the midfielder ran twenty yards to confront the referee. Only then was the red card shown. After that, it took the player over a minute to leave the pitch.

The stupidity of Mascherano was further highlighted because in the days leading up to the fixture, all the talk was about the proposed clamp down on disrespect towards referees. This followed Ashley ‘Nasty’ Cole’s behaviour when he turned his back on the ref in the Spurs- Chelsea match last Wednesday. I mean given the furore over that how stupid do you have to be.

Of course, people will argue that the Rooney and Terry’s of this world have got away with the same offence for years and they’d be completely right. But if the crackdown starts now, referees have to begin the process now.

However, they have to be consistent. If next week, Rooney confronts the referee in the same manner Mascherano did, he’ll have to be treated in the same manner. Referees have got to get it right and they’ve got to start being ruthless now.

It’s a poor reflection on the game when you have a high profile figure such as FIFA boss, Seb Blatter speaking out over Martin Taylor’s challenge on Eduardo, when really, it’s people like Mascherano ruining the game. Taylor’s tackle was terrible. However, it was accidental. Would people have reacted in the same way if the extent of the injury hadn’t been so severe? You see tackles like that every week. It’s part and parcel of a contact sport. Thankfully, you rarely see an injury of that degree.

I’d rather see the odd badly timed challenge than a player running twenty yards to argue with the referee, brandishing fake cards in an attempt to get their opponents booked.

It’s amazing how youngsters imitate their heroes. A piece of skill, a celebration, the way a freekick is taken – it’s all replicated by young players trying to play like their idols. Unsurprisingly, they also pick up bad habits – swearing, spitting, shouting at linesmen.

If we want to see order brought to the game – at grassroots level and upwards - referees need to be unswerving. They need to let players know that too much backchat will earn them a red card and they need to follow through on this promise. Just watch how quickly the players will learn how to shut their mouths.

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Jim McCabeMarch 25th 2008.

Bennett's handling of what will always be a powderkeg fixture was inept, pompous & myopic. The yellow card for Torres followed 40 odd minutes of subtle & not so subtle fouls from Ferdinand & Vidic. However, Mascherano was largely the author of his own fate. Suffering from headless chicken syndrome, he tore about the pitch, intent on some sort of confrontation. His first yellow card was warranted. It was a late lunge on Scholes long after the ball had gone. Most fans & players don't hold Steve Bennett in high regard; he's the sort of official who would stand on ceremony even if there was a foot underneath. That said, it really beggars belief that Mascherano thought he could tell the referee to go forth & multiply ad infinitum. By the time he did ask his innocent question ("Que Pasa/What happened?"), his fate was sealed. Cue the touchline theatrics.However, the galling reality is that there is no consistency when it comes to dissent. Don't be surprised when Rooney, Ronaldo, Terry, Lampard, Drogba et al are up to their usual ref-baiting tactics before the end of next month & getting away with it. Clamp down on dissent by all means, but stick to it. The sour reality, however, is that, due to Bennett's mistakes over the Cole incident, this will be no more than flavour of the month.

Even Chavvier MaskerarneyMarch 25th 2008.

It's all a bit of a storm in a d-cup isn't it - the WAGs choice of brassiere.I never did understand why posh people who owned cafes decided against calling their cafe a cafe, instead opting for the Gallic 'brasserie'. I mean, it sounds a bit too much like brassiere to me. Maybe because they favour the repression of women's bodies as well as serve crap tea from china. No, not the People's Republic - I'm talking about the serving vessels, from which we make a dainty sup! Or maybe they call them brasseries because they're concerned it might all go 'tits up' when their patrons perform a rear-guard action and desert the venue in droves.There's a time and a place for the French, and that's generally 1789 under a guillotine.

gwladys streetMarch 25th 2008.

who cares! the daft plantpot is out of sunday and more fools like him please!

Chavier MascheranoMarch 25th 2008.

Spot on. Any anger or ill-feeling towards the ref should be redirected towards the player. What a numpty!Admittedly, Van der Sar didn't even get his gloves dirty before the sending off, but you never know what might have happened if it'd been 11 v 11. Mascherano stupidity ruined Benitez's favourite tactic when playing away against a superior side - let's get everyone behind the ball and hope to nick a goal. After the sending off United out-thought and out-fought Liverpool and it was men against boys at the end.

WappingMarch 25th 2008.

The only explanation I can come up with is that maybe Mascherano hears the phrase "**** off" so often he didn't realise that it's actually very strong language. Apart from that he was just a loose cannon with no one looking after him. Idiotic behaviour all the same.

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