COX, GREEN, MARRIOTT, BRENDAN RODGERS REACTION
Mansfield boss Paul Cox won't condemn Luis Suarez as cheat over handball
MANSFIELD boss Paul Cox refused to condemn Luis Suarez as a cheat in the wake of the Uruguayan's latest controversial moment in English football.
Cox, though, was left “gutted” for the club and his players at the 59th-minute handball from Suarez that clinched Liverpool's place in the fourth round of the FA Cup at the expense of the non-league Stags.
Debutant Daniel Sturridge, a £12m buy from Chelsea in the past few days, set the Reds on their way to the 2-1 win with a fine eighth-minute opener.
Matt Green gave the Blue Square Bet Premier side hope but it was not to be, leaving Liverpool to go on to another tricky tie in the last 32 at League One Oldham.
It was Suarez, though, that was all the talk after a match that had Cox questioning referee Andre Marriner and his assistants.
“Their second goal, that's when you need a referee or a linesman to spot those kind of things,” said Cox.
“I don't think he (Suarez) did anything wrong. It was instinctive centre forward play.
“But if you look at the body language of players, all my lot are running to the ref and linesman and Suarez is blasting the ball in the net to say 'I've just handballed that'.
“I don't want to say anything bad about him because he is a fabulous talent, and if the shoe was on the other foot then we would have taken it.
“But when you've officials at that level, you expect them to pick up on it, but they are only human.”
Although the Mansfield fans chanted “cheat” at Suarez, Cox added: “I don't want to get involved in that. What he did was instinctive.
“We should embrace him as a talent, rather than for doing something that was instinctive.
“All he did is do what any striker would have done.
“If Matt Green had done it we would have accepted it. I can't be two-faced on that.”
The Suarez goal, though, was one that angered goalkeeper Alan Marriott, who had a close-up view.
“When you see Luis Suarez laughing as he kicks the ball over the line, he knows himself what's happened,” said Marriott.
“Even Stewart Downing said to us 'I can't believe a professional official has missed that'.
“When you see that and it turns out to be the decisive goal, it's a sickener for everybody.”
"No doubt it was handball": Rodgers speaks out over Suarez incident
BUT the Reds boss thinks it wasn't given as it wasn't deliberate, AND that Luis Suarez shouldn't have to own up
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers admitted questioning the validity of Luis Suarez's second-half goal in the FA Cup win over Mansfield Town.
The goal gave his side a 2-0 lead but the Reds boss said he was more than happy to accept the officials' final decision on the strike that ultimately saw his side through to the fourth round.
Liverpool had led Mansfield 1-0 through a Daniel Sturridge goal before the Uruguayan controlled it with his hand and tapped home.
Rodgers said: "I've just seen it again and there's no doubt it was handball but the referee and the officials ruled it wasn't deliberate.
"I spoke to the fourth official when it was given because I couldn't see and he said it was (handball) so I can only assume they thought it wasn't deliberate.
"So obviously it was unfortunate for Mansfield and lucky for us that we got the goal. It was a really professional performance."
Rodgers rejected the possibility of Suarez owning up to the handball to the referee, though, adding: "It's not Luis' job to do that.
"It's not been deliberate as it's pushed up and hit his hand. It's up to the officials to decide that.
"That's why they get paid as officials and I thought Andre Marriner was brilliant today.
"Maybe when you lose the game you look back on it and think it was unfortunate.
"We missed many more chances to put the game to bed, so we got a wee bit of luck there so it's something we'll take and move on."
Mansfield manager Paul Cox refused to criticise Suarez over the handball, admitting if the same thing had happened at the other end of the pitch they would have accepted it.
Asked if he felt it was cheating or an instinctive reaction from the Liverpool striker, Cox told ESPN: "I'd like to give the benefit of the doubt and say it was a reaction, he's a goalscorer and I think goalscorers put the ball in the net anyway.
"He's a great fabulous talent, I'd go pay to watch him week in and week out. He's a wonderful player."
Cox also insisted he did not feel cheated, saying: "No I don't. For me to come out and say something like that I think would be quite cheap. If it had gone in the other end and one of our players had done it I think we'd have accepted it.
"This is the FA Cup, this is the beauty of it, sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it doesn't.
"It's a beautiful game and for me he's a fabulous talent and for this country we're lucky to have him here. I don't think we should call him for doing something that I think 99 out of 100 players would do."
Regarding his team's performance, Cox said: "I'm proud of my boys, I thought they were a different level second half. I thought we stood off them and let them play in the first half..
"We've done well against one of the best teams. We've a lot of positives to take out of it."
As dust settles, Green and Mansfield Town focus on the bigger task ahead
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
AS the dust settles on their FA Cup adventure, the glamour tie with Liverpool, Mansfield Town will emerge back to reality this week.
Against their Premier League opponents, the Stags will count themselves unlucky not to be heading to Anfield for a replay next week.
Luis Suarez's controversial goal, in which he handled the ball, will stick in the throat for a long time following the 2-1 third round defeat at the One Call Stadium on Sunday.
But there is no time to dwell on what happened. Instead, the Stags must draw on what was a superb performance and use it to inspire a surge up the Blue Square Bet Premier table.
With cup competitions now out of the way, the sole focus is the league and with games in hand and six points to claw back on the play-off places, they cannot afford to suffer an FA Cup hangover.
For Stags, the weekend could provide a pivotal moment as they set the standard, as manager Paul Cox said.
And, given it was sold out, you would hope some of the stay-away fans might now be enticed back, boosting match-day attendances.
On the pitch, one player who emerged from the cup with a positive outlook was striker Matt Green.
After his 30 goals helped Mansfield to third last term and into the play-offs, his season this time round has blown hot and cold.
He started well, with four goals in his first seven games but then he was out of the team for a while as, by his own admission, his form dipped.
But four goals in four matches on his return saw him get back among the goals and in the last few games, the 26-year-old has looked back to his best. Sharp, lively, a goal threat.
And on Sunday, up against Jamie Carragher, he had the biggest test of his career.
Yet he rose to the challenge, netting against the Premier League side and also forcing two good saves from Brad Jones.
Now, with nine goals for the season, if he remains in the same vein of form, who is to say he cannot take his tally to 20 or more before the season is out?
And with games coming thick and fast, this is the time for the Stags to embark on a winning run.
They have suffered just one defeat in seven league matches before this weekend's visit of Kidderminster to the One Call Stadium.
But afterwards, they enter a run of Tuesday night games which includes midweek trips to Stockport, Hereford, Newport, Hyde, Lincoln and Woking.
And Green says, with the players being given a couple of days off after their FA Cup tie, they should come back recharged, refreshed and up for the league battle ahead.
He said: "We have been given a couple of days to relax so it gives us chance to go away, lick our wounds, but then come back ready to go again, focused on what lies ahead.
"It is going to be a very, very busy period until the end of the season and this is where the squad will come into play.
"We have a big enough squad to accommodate every position and the manager is good at his job; he will know the best way to utilise that with so many matches coming up. He knows how to get the best out of the players we've got.
"But the league is the priority and we have to take the positives out of the Liverpool game into the league matches as we try to move up the table."
Green got the shirt of former England international and Liverpool captain Carragher at the end of Sunday's defeat.
And he was delighted to get on the scoresheet against the five-time European champions.
"It was all a bit surreal, if I am being honest as you are up against players you idolise," said Green.
"I think in the first 15 minutes we gave them too much respect.
"They got the goal early and it took the wind out of us but once we settled into it, we gave a very good account of ourselves.
"On a personal note, to get that goal was a dream come true and to come up against Carragher, you could see just how good a defender he is.
"He is no-nonsense but you can tell why he has had so many years at the very top level. He is a great professional; he gave me his shirt and seemed a great person as well.
"But now that game is behind us and we look forward to the league, which is the priority."
With Cox set to use some of the FA Cup cash to fund new signings this month, the squad is set for a boost ahead of a hectic and crucial period of games.
After Kidderminster at home this weekend, the Stags are away at Stockport on the Tuesday and then Southport the following Saturday.
Points on the board early are crucial for Mansfield.
The Liverpool game is one that will not be forgotten for many years but promotion back into the Football League?
To achieve that would eclipse the lot
Stags boss Cox refuses to criticise Suarez over handled winner for Liverpool
MANSFIELD Town manager Paul Cox tonight refused to jump onto the bandwagon of critics against controversial Uruguayan star Luis Suarez after the Liverpool star handled home the winner in their 2-1 FA Cup third round success at the One Call Stadium today.
Suarez clearly put the ball over the line off his hand, but the officials deemed it wasn't deliberate and the goal stood.
Furious Stags fans chanted 'cheat' at a player so often booked for diving, but Cox said: “I don't want to be too hard on him. He is a fabulous talent and we should embrace that, not have a go at him. If the shoe had been on the other foot we'd have taken it.
“I have just seen the highlights and, seeing some of the decisions made by the officials, I feel a bit gutted for the lads.
“The winning goal was a blatant handball. But there were two other occasions where balls heading towards goal were stopped by blatant handballs and nothing was given. That's the FA Cup, though.
“You need that bit of luck. The referee or linesman should have spotted it.
“It was instinctive centre forward play by Luis Suarez and if Matt Green had done it at the other end we would have taken it. So I am not going to be two-faced and criticise Suarez for it.
“His body language as he kicked the ball into the net afterwards suggested he didn't think it was going to stand.
“Referees are only human and have the hardest jobs in football. But you do expect them to pick up on the blatant stuff.”
Cox felt his side's gutsy showing at least deserved a replay at Anfield.
“I am gutted as I thought the second half warranted something out if the game for us,” he said.
“In the first half we played the occasion and not the match. We stood off Liverpool and let them play. You look at their fabulous talent, we really rode our luck.
“But in the second half we played on the front foot.
“Today we have given a good account of ourselves and we ran a massive football club close.
“It was a great day and the lads will have taken something from it with memories and dreams.
“Brendan Rogers deserves a lot of respect for the side he sent for the fixture, and the changes he made during the game when they were hanging on before Suarez came on.
“All we needed to do after half-time was turn that pressure into goals which we couldn't do.”
“I am just disappointed we couldn't get a second goal to take us to Anfield which would have been a dream come true.”
Cox now has one eye on next weekend as Stags try to get themselves into the BSBP title race in the second half of the season.
He said: “I won't celebrate losing a football match, but I can take a lot of positives out of this and try to take them into the league games.
“The bread and butter for us is league football and when the lads come back in on Tuesday, this game will have gone and we need to take this form through into the game with Kidderminster next Saturday.”
Today's fine display ended an amazing weekend for Cox in which he was married and celebrated his 41st birthday.
“They don't get much better than this and I'd like a few more,” he smiled. “It has all been a bit surreal.”
Stags striker Green admits goal against Liverpool was a 'dream come true'
Published on Sunday 6 January 2013 20:41
MANSFIELD Town striker Matt Green admitted his goal against Premier League giants Liverpool in the 2-1 FA Cup defeat today was a 'dream come true'.
Green set up a grandstand finish with his 79th minute strike and could have ended up with a hat-trick, forcing two great saves from keeper Brad Jones.
“Scoring today was a dream come true, it's what you dream of when you are a nipper and something I will remember for the rest of my life.
“Being hard on myself, as I am, I probably should have done a bit better and scored more, But you can't score them all.
“Possibly we gave them a bit too much respect early on. But, in the end, we could have got something out of it.”
On the controversial Luis Suarez winner, which found the net off the Uruguayan's hand, he added: “As a striker you claim anything, but I am not saying it's the right way to put the ball in the net. It is really gutting to be put out of the FA Cup by something like that.”
Keeper Alan Marriott was critical of the officials for missing something the TV replays showed so clearly.
“The linesman was on that side and should have seen it,” he said.
“Even their players didn't celebrate and Suarez kicking the ball into the net with a smile on his face after it had gone in suggested he thought it would be disallowed. He was waiting for the referee to blow.
“But you can't call him a cheat. It is a natural reaction sometimes to put your hand out and if it gives you an advantage and you get away with it, then that's football.
“When they scored after five minutes or so I thought, Jesus, it's going to be a cricket score.
“But playing towards our own fans in the second half gave us a spur and we made a game of it.
“Hopefully this will now spur us on in the league too as expectations here are massive and a club like Mansfield doesn't deserve to be in the Conference.”
Stags boss Cox calls for consistency from his FA Cup heroes
Published on Tuesday 8 January 2013 15:17
AFTER the most surreal weekend of his life, Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox today urged his players to take the second half of the season by the scruff the neck and gain promotion.
Cox was married on Friday before seeing his magnificent side almost pull off an FA Cup upset when they were pipped 2-1 by seven-times winners Liverpool in the home third round tie on Sunday on his 41st birthday.
“On Monday I had a day of reflection and contemplation, looking back over the weekend and looking forward,” he said.
“With the wedding, my birthday and Liverpool, the whole weekend was a bit surreal. I don't think a weekend like that will ever come round again.
“I can't predict the future, but I hope I am not going to get married again.
“But I do hope I am involved in games of this calibre again. It has whetted my appetite and it should whet the appetite of the players and supporters too.”
He added: “I have given the lads a couple of days off to recoup physically, level themselves out and let the dust settle.
“They will have played the game over and over in their heads – the noise, the sounds, the smells. They take time to filter out.”
Now the Stags begin a fearsome run of league games, playing almost every Tuesday for the rest of the season, with a tough home clash with in-form Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday (3pm), followed by a trip to Stockport on Tuesday (7.45pm). And Cox said consistency was now the key to promotion success.
He said: “We now need to take this season by the scruff of the neck. We haven't even played half our league games yet. We hadn't been doing too badly when we lost to Alfreton as I think it was only one defeat in 11. But we now need to up the ante for the second half of the season.
“The national newspapers all commented this week how Liverpool were hanging on at times on Sunday against us. If we play with that kind of purpose, desire and hunger in the second half of the season we will win more than we lose and be up there in the pack chasing promotion.
“It is all about being consistent now. That is the key. The sign of a great side is not a cup team. It's about doing consistently well in the league. Even clubs like Manchester United have their ups and downs in cup competitions but are always consistent in their league results.
“Some of our players came out of Sunday's game with an incredible amount of credit. That will disappear if there is a lull in their performances.
“We are playing Saturday, Tuesday pretty much right the way through the rest of the season now. But sometimes I quite enjoy that as there is not time to think.
“We had a big crowd there on Sunday and the atmosphere was amazing. I hope they left the ground feeling proud of the players and I hope some of them will now come back, too, and get behind us for the rest of the season.”
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