It took me a day or so to compose my thoughts in something approaching a measured, dispassionate manner after Sunday's events at Old Trafford.
The reality is that, for all Steve Bennett's officious & pompous performance, Mascherano was the author of his own misfortune. His yellow card was warranted. A late lunge at Scholes with no possibility of winning the ball was reckless. However, instead of getting the message that he was on thin ice, the Argentinian went loco.
His command of English is accompanied by a knowledge of one of the oldest anglo-saxon epithets, something he was keen to demonstrate within earshot of Bennett. Added to this dubious linguistic facility was a penchant for sardonic observation of Bennett's inept handling of a powderkeg fixture.
There were harsh words for Mascherano's antics from James Lawton in today's Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/james-lawton-any-selrespecting-manager-would-take-responsibility-for-indiscipline-of-players-800246 ), some of which were valid, others not. However, Lawton is spot-on when he observes:
"A pro's most basic obligation is to keep his head under any kind of circumstances. By looking for trouble, for abandoning self-control to such an extent, Mascherano effectively betrayed his team. He obliged them to face an entire half with only 10 men against the reigning champions, who were already a goal ahead."
This fixture is always difficult enough. What should be recognised, after the pathetic refereeing of Bennett has been dissected, is that one player's stupidity ended the match as any kind of contest.