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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 23, 2007

Mascherano: Reasons behind my Hammers exit

Javier Mascherano has turned his back on a nightmare spell at West Ham claiming that his 'face did not fit' there.

The Argentinian World Cup star is set for his Liverpool debut - probably from the bench - at home to Sheffield United just relieved to be able to play again after months in the cold at Upton Park.

The 22 year-old said: 'I do not really want to talk about what happened at West Ham, I want to look to the future. But maybe my face did not fit.'

And he suggested the Hammers' staff might not have thought he was good enough for a place in the side.

The ramifications surrounding the arrival of Mascherano and Carlos Tevez at West Ham - still the subject of a Premier League inquiry - have not stopped the midfielder from being able to start afresh at Anfield.

It is believed that Liverpool have arranged to buy his contract from the group that brought him to East London and end the problem of dual ownership of the player.

But Mascherano's views on why he did not make the breakthrough at West Ham seem to endorse speculation that he was not welcomed into the Hammers' squad or really wanted by the management staff.

He said: 'First of all, I have to take some of the responsibility myself. I clearly didn't play well enough to warrant a place in the team.

'The backroom staff obviously didn't think I was worth it. I didn't play a great deal but I have to take my share of the blame.

'I came over here with hopes of playing football on a regular basis, and it didn't work out like that. It was a tough period, but I never allowed myself to get too down.

'I trained hard and keep the belief that my football was okay. I got occasional games, so I was involved. I always lived in hope that things would work out.'

Mascherano has been training at Liverpool for several weeks but has not played a first-team game since early December.

He said: 'There are amazing players in Liverpool, like Steven Gerrard, and that is why there is going to be great competition.

'I know that I'll have to be in a very good shape, and that doesn't scare me.

'It was very useful for me to speak with Rafa Benitez. He showed a great deal of interest in the way I play, and that made me feel confident.

'After three months without playing, a call from my new coach saying that he trusted me was the best thing that could happen to me. That's what I needed.

'From not being taken into account at West Ham, I'm now in a team that is at the top and plays in the Champions League.

'I am aware that this is an important step in my life and that my career will depend on what will happen at Liverpool. This is an opportunity that I won't waste.'

He is on an initial 18-month loan at Anfield and said of the West Ham experience: 'When we have a rough time, us players start making up excuses. I don't like to do that. I am self-critical and I know that I'm the first person to blame for what happened to me at West Ham.

'I was the one who agreed to go there and the one who signed the contract - nobody forced me to do anything. And I do not think that I wasted my time there. I grew up professionally.

'Going to West Ham wasn't the best thing to do. That's the truth and although it hurts, I have to accept it. I arrived there with the hope of playing so that the European people would know me, but I had very few possibilities.'

He was on the bench for Liverpool in Barcelona this week, and added: 'I have got used to the different culture in England.

'I believe I can fulfill all my footballing ambitions at Liverpool. I have been accepted and made welcome by the players.'

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