View from the Kop

Just what is Lee Mason’s problem with Liverpool FC?


82199572ML020_Hull_City_v_EIt is a question that many Liverpool fans will be asking after the Stoke game at the weekend. A blatant penalty shout that Lee Mason missed in the game, have followed games against Portsmouth and Fulham where the referee has not taken too kindly to the Merseyside club. After sending off two players against Fulham in Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher, he then proceeded to send off Javier Mascherano against Pompey, and now Liverpool’s latest run in with whom Radio 5 Live commentator Alan Green calls “the worst referee in the Premier League.” Liverpool full back Fabio Aurelio certainly was unhappy after the match with the ref’s decisions:

“We mentioned before the game that we just had to let the referee do his job and not speak to him because he has not been very good for us in the past. In the end, during the game, we had to push him on things because we could see a lot of decisions that should have been in our favour. Speaking to Lucas, he said he has two clear penalties turned down. There were a lot of decisions that the referee just didn’t see. That’s why we are so disappointed.”

Certainly it was pretty clear in the dressing room before the game that referee Lee Mason was going to be a problem. It certainly turned out that way as he proceeded to turn down Lucas Leiva a clear penalty in the first half. It did appear that Lucas was jumping before the challenge but the Brazilian midfielder was no doubt trying to avoid being clattered by Danny Higginbotham. Once he went to ground there could be only one real decision: a penalty. Mason saw it differently though and proceeded to dish out a yellow card for simulation, something that neither Lucas nor any Liverpool players could believe. Mason had seemed to react to Higginbotham’s demand for a card for diving and taken a completely wrong view that there had been no contact between the pair

So why has Mason been so harsh towards Liverpool recently? A clue can be found in what Graham Poll said in his column about Mason in the Daily Mail. Poll stated that Mason’s performances befitted Green’s description of the referee but the reason for the performance Poll puts down to “tentative and nervous” refereeing. It is pretty worrying when a top flight official is being tentative and not certain in his decisions. What was playing on his mind is most probably Rafa’s sarcastic comment after the Portsmouth game that he was “perfect.” According to Poll:

“Referees react to that type of attack in different ways and while none deliberately go against a team, some might try to be ‘perfect’ next time out. Determined not to be seen to be influenced by Benitez’ criticism, Mason gave them only what was 100 per cent obvious.”

If this is the mentality that Poll and other referees do have, then it is certainly worrying for the game. To not be seen to be influenced by others, you more than likely going to be biased against a team rather than fair. Something which is equally as unacceptable in the game as being influenced by outside pressures. We can’t ask referees to be absolutely perfect with decision making but we can at least ask them to put aside any slights against them made by certain managers before stepping onto the pitch. Tentative and nervous referees who are not certain in their own ability, and try to reassert their authority by only giving decisions that are not seen to be influenced by manager criticism, are not good enough for the Premier League. Fairness rather than the appearance of being fair should be Mason’s priority, something he plainly failed to do in the match against Stoke.

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