Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers probably has a point in some of the blistering criticism aimed at referee Lee Mason.
Rodgers, upset about a trio of decisions that went Manchester City’s way at the Etihad on Boxing Day, doesn’t have a point in a conspiracy sense, necessarily, but perhaps in a fairness sense. And, as Rodgers suggested, these were potentially game-changing moments in question. But …
Rodgers took his comments a bit too far, walking right up to the line of suggesting outright bias for a man (Mason) who works and lives in nearby Bolton. Here’s what Rodgers said when asked about Mason in the still-fuming minutes after Liverpool fell to Manchester City, 2-1:
“Where do you want me to start? I thought we never got any decisions.
“The linesman on the offside one, he wasn’t even on the same cut of grass. If you’re working at this level you have to get it right. That’s not even a difficult one, that one. These are things we work on and we talk about; we’re asking these young players to make those runs across to try and break their lines, and it’s a perfectly-timed run and he [the assistant] has given offside when he is through one-on-one on goal. These are big moments in big games.
“There is another incident when Louie [Luis Suarez] doesn’t get a free-kick when Joleon Lescott went right through him, and it was waved ‘play-on.’
“And it is arguable it is a penalty at the end. Luis Suarez can’t jump because he is tugging at his shirt.
“I thought it was throughout the evening as well. Hopefully we don’t have another Greater Manchester referee again on a Liverpool-Manchester game.”
It is that last part will have the Football Association to buzzing.
Oh, and this should be said, too: If Rodgers is going to hack away at Mason, that’s his right, I suppose. He’s a big boy and he surely understands the consequences. But two quick points to consider:
First, that early offside call – young Liverpool striker Raheem Sterling was, in fact, incorrectly ruled offside when put clean through against City’s Joe Hart – had nothing to do with Mason. It was the assistant who raised a flag, not the man in the middle.
And on the two potential big calls against Suarez: well, this is where the notorious striker’s reputation works against him. A reputation is just that, a “reputation.” Whether that’s right or wrong is a different conversation. But Suarez hasn’t always been the best boy (that part in inarguable) and he’s long lost the benefit of the doubt. That’s what you get with such a figure: a lot of “good” slowed slightly by the weight of his own history, and Rodgers should know so.