The headlines haven’t been kind to Liverpool doughnut Javier Mascherano in the wake of Liverpool’s crushing 3-0 defeat to Manchester United. “Dumbest Man On The Planet!” blasted The Sun, and the others weren’t much more complimentary either.
The man himself has since spoken out in disbelief at Steve Bennett’s decision to send him packing at Old Trafford — and his manager Rafa Benitez has backed the Argentine all the way in protest at the dismissal. Live on TV, Andy Gray too was keen to voice his disapproval at Mascherano’s ‘harsh’ punishment for ‘asking the referee a question.”
Personally, I am very much of the opinion that Mascherano got exactly what he deserved on Sunday afternoon. His blatant show of dissent and lack of respect towards Bennett and his two linesmen throughout the first 45 minutes was quite simply horrible to see.
Not once, not twice, not even three times but several more, TV cameras caught the Argentinian midfielder berating the officials — sometimes laughing in disbelief at them and at other times angrily questioning their decisions. Then, while on a yellow card, Mascherano saw it fit to run 20 yards to question Bennett’s caution of Fernando Torres.
No, he didn’t swear. No, he didn’t wave his fists. But he did show dissent and he did try his utmost to provoke the referee. Finally, Bennett snapped at the constant badgering and I don’t blame him one bit.
Is that the kind of example we want Premier League footballers to set? I don’t think so.
The furore over Ashley Cole’s disrespect towards Mike Riley no doubt played a part in this dismissal but surely that is not the issue we should be discussing?
It can never be right nor acceptable for professional sportsmen to scream and shout at the match officials, no matter what the sport. It sets the poorest example possible to children at grassroots level and has the power to make life extremely difficult for referees at all levels of the game.
Mascherano’s subsequent reluctance to leave the pitch was an embarrassment. That too, was the kind of behaviour we should not tolerate from our Premier League players. I hope that the FA come down hard on the Argentine by increasing his one match ban and fining him heavily.
For a player of Mascherano’s experience to get himself sent off in such an important game in such a foolhardy way really was stupid.
We shouldn’t be talking about whether or not his final approach to Steve Bennett warranted a yellow card or not. We should be ensuring this is kind of behaviour (swearing or not) should not be tolerated any longer.
It’s time to stop making excuses. It’s time to come down hard on the players and managers who bring football into disrepute….
Previously published at 4sportsake.com.