Rafa Benitez has warned his side to maintain their focus and not be drawn into altercations after Jesus Gamez’s red card in Belgium at the weekend, reports the Chronicle.
Gamez won’t be suspended for the trip to Fulham but may miss any of the remaining pre-season friendlies if his dismissal is reported by the Belgian FA. The English FA changed the rules in 2013 which mean red cards received during friendlies don’t count toward competitive games.
Benitez told the squad they must keep their discipline:
“[Gamez and Miric] both lost their temper.
“There was a foul before and after, and in these type of games you have to have more control.”
We’ve seen the damage suspensions can do to a league campaign in the past so Benitez has got to make sure the message gets through. It’s unusual for any friendly to turn spikey but when you’re winning so comfortably, losing a player is infuriating.
But as with physical fitness, the players have to attune their head to match conditions in pre-season. It’s not so much of an issue now he won’t be suspended for a league match but an indicator that Gamez needs to keep his cool in the face of provocation next season.