Rafa does his best to calm Mascherano down.
Liverpool have fined midfielder Javier
Mascherano after he admitted a Football Association charge
of improper conduct following his sending-off away to
Manchester United last weekend.
Mascherano today asked for a personal hearing which is
expected to take place in London next Friday. But today
Anfield boss Rafael Benitez also revealed that Mascherano
had been fined by the club – believed to be the maximum two
weeks’ wages of around £100,000 – with the 23-year-old
asking that the money be donated to charity.
Benitez said today: “Javier is a fantastic professional and
he knows he made a big mistake, he apologised to his
team-mates and the supporters and he has now apologised to
“He accepts he lost control after the sending-off and has
said sorry to the referee. I have also talked with him now
and told him he would be fined by the club, and he has
accepted that and wants the money donated to charity.
“We would like a personal hearing now. This was the first
red card of our season and we do not have problems of this
kind. We will now await the outcome of the hearing and the
lawyers are now working on it.”
Mascherano will serve an initial one-match ban in the
Merseyside derby on Sunday. It is possible that that
suspension could be extended for two more matches if he
loses the appeal.
hit with FA charge
By Alex Livie - Setanta Sports
The Football Association have stepped into
the Javier Mascherano affair by charging the Argentina
international with improper conduct.
The Liverpool midfielder was sent off against Manchester
United at the weekend, with his second booking coming on the
back of a constant stream of criticism towards referee Steve
Mascherano was apoplectic with rage when shown a second
yellow card and had to be ushered down the tunnel by
team-mates and manager Rafa Benitez.
Liverpool were unhappy with Bennett’s actions, a view not
shared by the wider football community, but The FA have
taken a dim view of the player’s conduct.
“Liverpool's Javier Mascherano has today been charged with
improper conduct,” read a statement from The FA.
“The charge relates to his reaction towards referee Steve
Bennett after being sent off against Manchester United on
Sunday 23 March.
“He has until 6pm tomorrow (Thursday) to respond. The case
will be heard by a Regulatory Commission on Friday 4 April.
“Mascherano is currently serving a one-match suspension for
Respect agenda must
at top of the game
Old Trafford analysis by Tony Barrett - Liverpool Echo
If Steve Bennett had been refereeing an
amateur game at Walton Hall Park on Sunday the chances are
both managers would have told their players beforehand not
to bother speaking to him.
It is a scene played out in Sunday League dressing rooms on
a weekly basis when matches are officiated by over-officious
It is no different in the Premier League and Bennett is one
referee who players and managers have long been wary of
getting on the wrong side of. Which makes Javier
Mascherano's attempt to question him time andagain all the
more difficult to comprehend, particularly as he already had
a yellow card to his name.
Throw in the fact Bennett had just sent out a clear message
that he would not tolerate any back chat by booking Fernando
Torres and Mascherano's decision to ask the referee "what's
happening" was always going to end in dismissal.
Under the laws of the game – and no matter what anyone says
about the current climate, matches should only be governed
by the laws – Bennett was well within his rights to send him
off for a second bookable offence.
Law 12 stipulates a player can be booked if he shows dissent
by word or action.Mascherano was a repeat offender.
The problem is, like the off-side rule, dissent is another
grey area open to the interpretation of the referee on the
day and this can, and often does, result in inconsistency.
Bennett decided that being asked "what's happening" was a
show of dissent too far as it questioned his decision
The laws clearly allow referees to make such decisions and
for the sake of football it is vital players know there is a
line that they cannot cross.
But, similarly, players have a right to demand at least a
degree of consistency and at Old Trafford this quality was
conspicuous by its absence.
The Match of the Day cameras later showed Mascherano had
spoken to Bennett on three or four separate occasions
leading up to his sending off. After seeing these incidents
it was easier to understand why Bennett felt his authority
was being questioned therefore compelled to act.
But what Match of the Day did not show were incidents – and
they were numerous – of players on both sides questioning
his decisions and, at times, launching foul mouthed tirades
Did Bennett decide these instances did not amount to
dissent? Does he allow players to have a little pop as long
as it doesn't happen over and over again? Or does he have
his own personal line he doesn’t let players cross?
These are questions which need to be answered. They need to
be answered for every single player who kicks a ball on
pitches the lengthand breadth of this country.
The FA has a moral duty to support Bennett in this case,
particularly at a time when respect for officials is so high
on the agenda in the wake of Ashley Cole's well publicised
maltreatment of Mike Riley.
But there is an element of Sunday's controversy which needs
examining as a matter of urgency and that is the role rival
managers play in putting pressure on officials.
Alex Ferguson has been indulging in this highly dubious
pastime for decades only for it to be given the euphemism of
"manager's mind games" by somein the media.
It is not mind games. It never has been and never will be.
It is a clear attempt by a manager to influence the decision
making of a referee to favour his team.
Is it really okay for managers to talk about officials in
the days leading up to games when their players are hardly
allowed to talk to them during the game itself?
Agendas are being set by managers and this will continue
while those who govern the game wash their hands of the
problem as a relative insignificance.
Ferguson knows he can get away with it as he did in 1999
when he spoke of the need for the official in charge of
United's Champions League clash with Inter Milan to be on
his toes because the Italians had a propensity for cheating.
Sure enough, Inter hardly got a decision in their favour –
despite having several excellent penalty claims – and United
Ferguson's ‘mind games’ had paid off, just as they have done
several times since, and he was at it again in the build up
to Sunday's game, as highlighted in advance by both Rafa
Benitez and former Liverpool star and ECHO columnist John
Ferguson is far from alone, of course, particularly at
Premiership level where most managers frequently use the
media to try and exert undue influence on referees.
It has got to this stage because the law makers have allowed
it to. They have the power to put a stop to this unsporting
practice but choose not to, probably out of fear of
upsetting the big personalities.
Pontius Pilate impressions have long been the order of the
day at Soho Square and even when the FA do act, they
invariably take on those who cannot call upon the media to
fight their battles.
That is why, in January this year, they wisely banned any
player other than team captains from talking to referees –
but only at amateur levels.
Had this rule change been in force in football's top tier,
Mascherano's venture towards Bennett would have been even
more ill advised would surely have helped him see sense.
It would also have removed those grey areas which see some
examples of clear dissent go unpunished.
Mascherano's mistake has been rightly punished but football
has to get its own house in order from top to bottom if the
respect for officials the game so badly needs is to be
And unless all managers and players at every level are
brought into line then Mascherano will be no more than a
Launching the plan to try and rid the scourge of dissent at
amateur level, Football Association chief executive Brian
Barwick said: "In my opinion this thing has to start at the
If the Cole and Mascherano incidents have shown anything it
is that this thing has to start at the top.
The very top.
By Nick Smith - Liverpool Daily Post
Sunday’s sending-off could set a benchmark
that will be good for the game in the long-term. If Javier
Mascherano has to be the fall guy that enables that to
happen then so be it. Tough luck.
But something needs to be done to stop all this business of
getting in referees’ faces and showing absolutely no respect
for authority. Fans have had a belly-full of it.
Okay, so Ashley Cole should have been the one to have an
example made of him last week when Mike Riley failed to
red-card him for his dissent.
But after Sunday, we can all see that officials aren’t going
to stand for any more of that and the game will be all the
better for it.
Yet Mascherano still fully deserved his dismissal for the
sheer stupidity of his actions – and it amazes me how Rafael
Benitez can defend them.
On the monitors we have in our radio commentary position we
could see Mascherano, even after he had his first yellow
card, mouthing off at Steve Bennett after every decision.
You could see what was coming.
What’s even more baffling is the fact that the incident he
got sent-off for came from a Liverpool free-kick. It wasn’t
like it was a dodgy penalty at the Stretford End or
something that gave Ronaldo a free shot at goal. It was no
And then just as Torres is being booked for dissent,
Mascherano decides to run over and add his opinion. How
could he have thought that Bennett would let it go after
he’d already booked his team-mate seconds earlier? What did
You could see Gerrard and Alonso trying to grab him to stop
him protesting because they knew he was on his way if he
continued harassing the ref.
If they could get their heads round what was going on, why
couldn’t Mascherano? And why couldn’t his manager?
Benitez should be coming out after that game and slapping a
fine of two weeks’ wages on the player and making him
apologise to his team-mates and fans.
As good a player a Mascherano is, you can’t afford to lose
the plot in a game of that importance – it just lets
Including Benitez. Which is why I was surprised he came out
and defended the player because surely he would have been
more frustrated with him than anyone?
A few more looks at it, coupled with some time to think,
might make Rafa realise how foolish his midfielder was,
especially as he was treading such a thin line after his
After all, when you’re 1-0 down at Old Trafford it’s
difficult enough to get back into the game but down to 10?
Sadly, Liverpool were already looking well on their way to
defeat to United before the sending-off.
They were cut open down the middle four or five times and
Skrtel and Carragher had a poor day positionally.
It was already looking so ominous even before Mascherano put
the result well beyond doubt.
Mark Lawrenson was talking to NICK SMITH
Mascherano: I don't
ref saw red
Javier Mascherano today admitted he
remains at a loss as to why he was sent off against
Manchester United during Liverpool's 3-0 defeat at Old
Goals from Wes Brown, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani brought
Liverpool's seven-game winning run to an abrupt end but the
big talking point was the dismissal of Mascherano after he
received two yellow cards.
Referee Steve Bennett had already booked the Argentinian for
a foul when Mascherano approached the official after
Fernando Torres had also been booked.
Television replays appeared to show Mascherano was asking
Bennett "what's happening", only for the referee to issue
him with a second yellow card for dissent.
Mascherano was left distraught by the controversial
dismissal which left Liverpool with ten men for 46 minutes
and he today apologised to his team-mates.
He said: "I do not know why I was sent off.
"I asked the referee what was happening. I did not swear, I
was not aggressive and I did not confront him.
"All I did was ask him what was happening, nothing else.
"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 ten men and that made things even more difficult for us."
Mascherano flew to Egypt to join up with the Argentina
national squad straight after the game and he will now be
banned for the forthcoming Merseyside derby.
The Football Association is also expected to study Bennett's
post-match report before deciding if Mascherano's refusal to
leave the pitch immediately after his dismissal should
result in further disciplinary action.
But Reds boss Rafa Benitez believes there is no need for any
more sanctions and his immediate concern lies with the
fitness of Fernando Torres, who picked up a number of knocks
in what turned out to be a bruising encounter for
Liverpool's top scorer.
Mascherano must take
responsibility for his actions
Comment/Liverpool Daily Post
Rafael Benitez needn’t have worried about
comparisons to Roy Keane going to Javier Mascherano’s head.
But it was when they went to his mouth that the problems
deepened for the Liverpool manager yesterday.
What disappointed Benitez most is that it wasn’t exactly a
Keane-style rant that led to the demise of his midfield
This wasn’t the vein-bulging, eye- popping intimidation that
Andy D’Urso had thrust in his face at this ground eight
years ago – an incident even serial referee sympathiser Sir
Alex Ferguson admitted he was ashamed of in the build-up to
Mascherano might share many traits with Keane but no-one can
do ‘angry’ quite as well as the former Old Trafford skipper.
Yet the Argentinian does have to take responsibility for his
If a referee is dishing out a yellow card for back-chat to
one of your team-mates, you don’t run half the width of the
pitch to join in the dissent when you’re already on a
booking yourself. But it won’t be lost on Benitez that
Mascherano was yesterday something of a fashion victim. The
first to be made an example of by officials keen to set a
All seemingly because – breaking news – Ashley Cole showed
someone some disrespect. So Cole is allowed a potentially
leg-snapping lunge, followed by the equivalent of a two-
fingered salute to Mike Riley’s authority, then a PR stunt
disguised as grovelling apology.
The Chelsea left-back comes out of it all with a yellow card
and Mascherano is left to pick up the pieces of that mess
with two of them.
So the sum of his crimes – the first being a badly timed but
in no way malicious scything of Paul Scholes – is deemed
twice as bad as those of Cole only four days earlier.
However, in the context of ‘disrespect’ being the buzzword
of the week, Mascherano is the fall guy of those morally
Maybe he should have been wiser to it and kept his mouth
shut. But surely Bennett should have been wise to the fact
that you can’t impose gagging orders when emotions are
running high in the biggest club fixture of the Premier
Still. Mascherano mouthed off and, just like Keane used to,
he single-handedly and comprehensively turned the game in
Not that they weren’t well on top before Mascherano departed
just before half-time, but halting United’s relentless surge
with a full side is difficult enough. With a man down, it’s
like trying to stop Sky’s horrible week-long hype ahead of
‘Grand Slam Sunday’. Impossible.
Liverpool actually made a better fist of it for periods in
the second half as the home side’s complacency threatened to
cost them an equaliser.
But the absence of Mascherano was always more likely to lead
to what happened late on, with Pepe Reina more exposed than
Paul Jewell as things gradually unravelled in front of him.
The controversial sending-off aside, however, events only
once again underlined Liverpool’s limitations in keeping
pace with the genuine title challengers.
Cristiano Ronaldo had a subdued afternoon yet still scored
his 34th of the season, while Wes Brown and Nani were able
to come up with decisive contributions when then big guns
weren’t firing on all cylinders.
Liverpool don’t have those luxuries. Benitez at least got
one thing right ahead of the fixture that always goes wrong
for him when he predicted United would be just as worried
about Fernando Torres as they were about Ronaldo.
And he was spot on – they were worried to the point of
If Torres saw off Vidic, Ferdinand was all over him. If he
eluded them both to get into a shooting position, Carrick
It was almost as if United knew that they could afford to
plough all their resources into stopping Torres.
That if they gave Ryan Babel room, his final ball would let
him down every time and that Dirk Kuyt wouldn’t have the
guile and invention to make any useful contribution with
whatever space or possession he was afforded.
And there was the difference. United can haul match-winners
out from the back of the sofa, Liverpool’s are on display
for all visitors to see. If they can’t produce it in the big
games – and Steven Gerrard stood no chance once the gap
where Mascherano once was beckoned him back in – nobody is
there to pick up the baton.
So United benefited from having one extra man. And it’s
looking increasingly like Liverpool will have just that one
extra league title in the record books come May.
knows his mistake
By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website
Rafa Benitez admitted Javier Mascherano
was naïve during Sunday's 3-0 defeat to Man Utd but claimed
the Argentine was dismissed simply for asking the referee a
Steve Bennett showed the midfielder a second yellow on the
stroke of half time after his enquiry as to why Fernando
Torres was booked.
Lively protests followed before Benitez eventually calmed
The Liverpool boss said: "It's clear Mascherano made a
mistake but he was only asking the referee a question. Ryan
Babel was there and saw that he was just asking.
"I do not think that to ask is a big problem in the end.
Maybe Javier does not know the referees.
"If you want to win you must have passion in a big game, and
sometimes you make mistakes, but he was only asking the
referee about a bad tackle.
"I have talked to him and he knows it was a mistake."
On the player's response to the red card, Benitez added:
"The referee decided to give a second yellow and he couldn't
understand. He was as surprised as me.
"I could speak to him in Spanish, so I said, 'Listen,
"He is a very good professional who has played a lot of
international games all around the world, and he couldn't
understand why he was sent off for just asking.
"It's difficult to explain some things that happen on the
pitch and I think it is perhaps better to not say too much
Benitez was asked after the final whistle whether he'd now
talk to his players about their conduct in front of
He said: "We haven't had too many problems with referees in
the last three or four years. I can see other teams but not
ours. Tell me in which game over the last four years you've
seen our players go at referees? We have a lot of respect
Asked if he thought Bennett would have sent off Mascherano
had Ashley Cole not caused such outrage with his show of
dissent in midweek, Benitez replied: "You will have to ask
The result means Benitez is now eight league games
without a win against United.
Even though the hosts were in front through Wes Brown when
the sending off took place, the Spanish coach felt the day
could still have brought that first win had the second half
started with 22 men on the pitch.
He said: "I am really disappointed because we saw two games:
one before the sending off and one after.
"Before the sending off we were more or less okay. We were
trying from counter attacks and had some corners.
"We pressed a little bit in the second half but when you
play against a team with pace and ability it is hard.
"Our people will now be disappointed and I am the first to
be disappointed, but we cannot change the situation."
Benitez admitted afterwards that defensive errors cost his
side dear on the day.
"We conceded two goals from two mistakes," said the Anfield
boss. "Pepe Reina is better than a lot of players and
sometimes you think you can arrive but you just arrive late.
These things can happen."
Another player in the thick of the action was Fernando
Torres, who received tough treatment from Nemanja Vidic and
Rio Ferdinand before being brought off with 10 minutes to
Benitez added: "He 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 and we will see."
Despite the result, Liverpool go into next weekend's
Merseyside derby with a two-point cushion in the race for
Benitez said: "This game is finished, now we have an
international break and then an important game against
Everton. I will say to the players to forget about this as
soon as possible and think about Everton.
"It's never easy to forget when you lose against one of your
rivals when you know that, if you beat them, you will be
really, really close. The only thing we can do is think
about the next one."
Fergie hails mature display
By Lewis Rutledge - Sky Sports
Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to the
performance of his Manchester United side following the 3-0
victory over Liverpool.
Wes Brown headed United in front on 34 minutes and
Liverpool's task was made more difficult when Javier
Mascherano was shown a second yellow card just before
Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani added further goals in the second
half to take United, temporarily at least, six points clear
at the top of the table.
Ferguson was delighted with United's display and felt it
demonstrated how his side had improved in recent months.
"It was a really good performance - a performance of
maturity," the United boss told Sky Sports.
"We've seen a team mature over the last six months and today
they hit their high peak.
"We've beaten a strong Liverpool side playing good
Ferguson had no complaints with Mascherano's dismissal for
dissent, after the controversial incident involving Chelsea
defender Ashley Cole raised awareness of the issue in
Ferguson said: "He has been booked and kept badgering the
referee. We've talked about dissent and I think that was
The Scot still believes the title race is wide open, adding:
"It's going to go right to the end, with Chelsea and Arsenal
going really well."
slam sorry Reds
By Ciaran Baynes - Setanta Sports
Though headlines may go to Javier
Mascherano's controversial first-half sending off,
Manchester United outclassed Liverpool at Old Trafford on
Sunday and were full value for their 3-0 victory to push
them closer to their 17th league title.
Two Jose Reina howlers either side of half time put United
comfortably in front, with Wes Brown and Cristiano Ronaldo
benefiting from him missing crosses and substitute Nani put
the gloss on the victory with a third.
Having been in their best form of the season coming into the
game Liverpool would have been confident of getting
something from their trip down the M62 but instead they were
well beaten in all departments and were heading for defeat
even before Mascherano's sending off for a second yellow
Twice inside the first ten minutes Rooney could have scored
after being found with balls right down the centre of the
First Anderson found him with a threaded ball around Jamie
Carragher and the veteran defender was fortunate not to give
away a penalty as he clipped the England striker whose
strength and honesty on this occasion kept him upright to
attempt a shot at goal that Reina saved.
Moments later Scholes clipped a free-kick over the top that
caught the defence asleep but Rooney just failed to get the
ball under his grasp and Reina collected.
United came close again when Giggs' free-kick fell to
Ronaldo at the back post courtesy of a flick-on but his shot
came back off the post - though an errant offside flag would
have disallowed this anyway.
Although Giggs was not a danger for much of the game he
again created trouble with a regulation cross from the left
that Reina almost pushed the ball over his line.
Moments later, Reina made an error that would cost his side
as he was late to a cross from Rooney that went into the net
off Wes Brown's back.
If one Spanish speaker was letting Liverpool down in their
net, another did his best to ensure they stayed behind.
Although a second yellow card for running up to the referee
and continually shouting "what for?" could be considered
harsh, in a week when the media talk has constantly been of
the treatment of referees it was foolish in the extreme.
Especially as he had been warned for doing the same
previously in the half.
After the interval United remained in control. After Rooney
had embarrassed Skrtel on the right wing by skipping past
him and then nutmegging him, Scholes clipped a trademark
scoop over the top of the Liverpool defence and Ronaldo
failed to beat Reina with his effort, while Anderson skied
over the rebound.
Rooney had an opportunity himself when he took down a long
ball from Edwin van der Sar but could only fire his effort
straight at Reina.
A couple of Steven Gerrard efforts from range apart, the
lone real chance Liverpool had was when a rare effort from
Nemanja Vidic put in Torres but the usually sharp striker
did not expect the ball to come to him and he could not
bring the ball down.
Reina remedied things a little saving from Tevez from point
blank range and then Ronaldo after the Argentinian had set
him up with a majestic chest pass.
From the resulting corner, Reina showed his worst qualities
once more though as he was hopelessly late coming for a
cross and allowing Ronaldo to head home.
Nani made the scoreline more representative of the
domination United enjoyed when he skipped inside a challenge
to slot stylishly past Reina from 20 yards.
The performance and result said a lot about Manchester
United's title credentials but it said just as much about
how far Liverpool are away from the division's top three.