Dumb and even dumber
JAVIER MASCHERANO has ignored the furious outcry
over his senseless red card against Manchester United
by insisting he did nothing wrong.
It seemed like the man dubbed the dumbest man on
the planet got even dumber as he claimed he was not
in ref Steve Bennett's face.
Liverpool's Argentinian midfielder insisted: ?I do not
know why I was sent off. I asked the referee what
"I did not swear, I was not aggressive and I did not
confront him. All I did was ask him what was happening,
"So when he showed me the second yellow card and
sent me off I could not believe it.
?I am sorry to my team-mates because that meant we
went down to 10 men and that made things even more
difficult for us.?
Mascherano received his second yellow card for dissent,
just four days after the game was in uproar over Ashley
Cole's decision to turn his back on ref Mike Riley.
The Argentinian also refused to leave the field in the 3-0
defeat against United â€” his seventh act of contempt towards
the officials â€” and an FA source confirmed he will almost
certainly face a charge of improper conduct.
Because of the Bank Holiday, Bennett's report will not be
studied by disciplinary bosses until today. But it is expected
to confirm the sending off was for ?consistent dissent?.
The case will be fast-tracked because of the publicity the
incident attracted and Mascherano can expect his automatic
one-match ban to be increased to three games.
The only bright spot for Liverpool is that his suspension will a
pply only to domestic games, so he will not be ruled out of the
Champions League quarter-final ties with Arsenal next month.
But he will miss Sunday's Merseyside derby at Anfield as well
as the Premier League clash with Arsenal on April 5 and the
home match against Blackburn eight days later.
Boss Rafa Benitez also defended Mascherano and tried to
deflect criticism by suggesting Bennett had not offered star
striker Fernando Torres enough protection.
Benitez claimed Torres received some rough treatment from
Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, and he took him off with
nine minutes to play.
He said: ?Fernando has some knocks on his ribs and ankle.
A lot of knocks and a lot of kicks. I was just trying to protect
him. The doctors will do a scan on him.?
Mascherano received no sympathy from players' chief Gordon
Taylor, who believes the time has now come for an exclusion
zone to be placed around officials.
Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association,
said: ?In the last week there has been a big campaign against
dissent and respect for referees and I have made it clear referees
should be a no-go area.
?It is time managers and players did accept a responsibility
because what happens at the top level happens lower down.?
The FA launched its â€˜Respect' campaign last week to try to stamp
out dissent and Taylor said they have to crank up those efforts.
He added: ?We have regular meetings with referees and the FA.
?When there are patterns developing like this then we need to
take action. It can be done with sanctions and an educational
process. In spite of last week's campaign the message has not
got through, so it has to come out louder and clearer.?