Rodgers unrepentant over criticism of ‘horrendous’ refereeing decisions
Liverpool boss reluctant to withdraw remarks and vows to ‘fight his corner’ with the FA
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: “someone who engages in supporting referees”. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany dismisses Luis Suarez’s complaint in the St Stephen’s Day match at the Etihad Stadium while referee Lee Mason looks on. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Brendan Rodgers intends to “fight his corner” after being asked by the Football Association to explain his comments about the referee Lee Mason following Liverpool’s St Stephen’s Day defeat at Manchester City.
The Liverpool manager questioned the decision to appoint Mason because the referee is from the Greater Manchester area and described the officiating as “horrendous”. He has until January 2nd to provide his observations to the FA. If charged and found guilty Rodgers faces a fine or warning over his conduct.
Rodgers insisted yesterday that his remarks were not intended as an attack on Mason’s integrity. “I was only speaking honestly after the game,” he said.
“I think the FA and the Referees’ Association know perfectly well I am someone who engages in supporting the referees. I am not one that berates referees at all after games.
“In terms of geography I certainly wasn’t questioning the integrity of referees. It was more the logic of it in terms of having a referee from that part of the world refereeing a game in Manchester. I wouldn’t suspect that Mike Dean, from the Wirral, has refereed many games for Liverpool over the years.”
‘I don’t play games’
Dean was dropped from officiating at the 2006 FA Cup final between Liverpool and West Ham for geographical reasons. Rodgers added: “I think if you look at my record since I have been a manager, I have never had any indiscretions whatsoever. I never get involved in that way of working
– I don’t play games. I am sure that is something they will look at but I will always fight my corner.”
Liverpool play at Chelsea tomorrow and Jose Mourinho believes their lighter schedule, devoid of European participation, is akin to a “holiday” and ensures Rodgers’ side will mount a sustained challenge for the Premier League title.
Mourinho acknowledged the prolific Luis Suarez had been the difference between the sides to date but, while he still considers Manchester City to be favourites to win the championship, he expects the challenge from fourth-placed Liverpool to be maintained.
“They can [win the title] because they are good, because Brendan is good, because they have time to prepare the team tactically and because they are not involved in the heat of the knockout situation in the Champions League or even the Europa League, ” he said. “My players are going to play 60 matches this season. Liverpool’s will play 40 matches. It’s a big difference. Quality plus ambition plus this advantage, so yes, they can win it.
Potent Suarez threat
“City are the big favourites. Arsenal are like us: they play in the Champions League, they are trying to improve on the last few years having not been at the top of the league for a while. And Manchester United, in spite of being a few points behind, have the reality of [what they have achieved in] the last years. Liverpool are on holidays one season: one week to prepare a match, play the match, one more week to prepare the next match. An unbelievable advantage.”
While Rodgers, a former academy and reserve team manager at Chelsea, has impressed Mourinho, it is Suarez whom the hosts must stifle. During the striker’s last meeting with Chelsea he bit Branislav Ivanovic. “Iva thinks it’s something from the past,” said Mourinho.
The Chelsea boss enjoyed a typical moment of mischief then when he hoped “little injury” might deprive Liverpool of Suarez for the clash.
“Maybe Suarez has got a little injury,” he said. “I’m not asking for a big injury . . . just a little injury to stop him playing for four days.”