Oh the sweet irony, at Old Trafford of all places. Don’t get me wrong once Javier was sent off he behaved outrageously (almost Tasmanian Devil-like) but beforehand he did nothing more or less than a whole host of players do every damn week. Man United players are worse than most, Gary Neville argues with the referee on average 26.2 times per match (should be an Opta stat). I have seen Ryan Giggs almost reduced to tears when a throw in on the half way line is awarded to an opponent.
I know that the football wants to crack down on the behaviour of players towards officials, but what happened yesterday has set a dangerous precedent. If we continue in the vein of Steve Bennett games will end up seven a side (and on an eleven a side pitch that can be torture, like when I play four a side on a five a side pitch, I get a stitch within minutes!).
There has to be a line drawn between arguing or berating a ref, which is part and parcel of the game, and being verbally abusive and disrespectful. I didn’t notice Javier going to crazy with the ref when Torres was booked, did anyone else? I can understand his confusion at being Red Carded, I too was gobsmacked.
There is a marked contrast between the Argentine’s actions and Ashley Cole’s ridiculous antics when he was only booked for almost removing Alan Hutton’s feet with a tackle that was frankly horrible. If the idea is that now players will stop moaning because of what has happened to Mascherano, well I can guarantee that idea will work for about seven days but then what do you do?
You simply can not book a player every time he disagrees with a referee, there needs to be a clear distinction made in the rule book to prevent this absurdity creeping in. At the moment we have an uneven balance between the officials and the players and management of teams. For instance, a manager it seems can’t complain about a performance of an inept official without being fined (where does the fine money go? One big Referee piss up?) or banned. Yet a referee rarely gets suspended after yet another mindless display.
I am all for standing up against the bullying and cajoling of referees, but Sunday’s actions against the Liverpool midfielder were totally incorrect.