Safri: Rams wanted me sent off
CHRIS LAKEY Youssaf Safri accused Derby players of plotting to get him sent off during Saturday's at times fiery encounter at Pride Park. The Canaries midfielder had been booked by referee Richard Beeby after 39 minutes for a foul on Inigo Idiakez and by half-time was running a tightrope as he refused to pull out of some full-blooded challenges.
Youssaf Safri accused Derby players of plotting to get him sent off during Saturday's at times fiery encounter at Pride Park.
The Canaries midfielder had been booked by referee Richard Beeby after 39 minutes for a foul on Inigo Idiakez and by half-time was running a tightrope as he refused to pull out of some full-blooded challenges.
But the Derby players and fans alike were incensed when a challenge on the halfway line soon after the hour mark, which brought down the dangerous Giles Barnes, went unpunished, although Mr Beeby's long lecture clearly left Safri in no doubt as to where he stood.
Ten minutes later it could have been curtains for the Moroccan when he challenged Derby sub Artuo Lupoli just yards outside the City penalty area. The challenge appeared to be a fair one, but Lupoli, on loan from Arsenal, then appeared to take a belated tumble. The referee waved play on, but Derby felt Safri had been given yet another chance.
Safri, though, felt he was a marked man.
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“I heard a few Derby players talking about getting me sent off during the game because I heard them,” said Safri. “I was close to them, but I think that is something in football. It's a bit harsh, but I don't want to get sent off this season, I don't want something silly to happen and thank god I stayed on the pitch for 90 minutes and we get a point, which was good for the team.”
But Safri said he knew just how far he could go without seeing red - although he admitted he had to take drastic action to stop Barnes on the break.
“I think the ref was close to me, that's why he didn't book me the second time,” said Safri. “But I think I did the right thing because it was a really dangerous counter-attack so I needed to make a foul or just stop him playing without getting myself booked. It was a bit dangerous, I was living dangerously, but I was confident enough in myself not to do anything silly and let the team down because over 90 minutes everyone worked hard.
“I am going into a tackle I have to be sure it's not a foul and go for the ball, and be careful. The manager and a few of the lads kept talking to me, which is good, and I think I knew in myself I was not going into any silly tackles.
“To be honest it was a really good game but it is nice to get in some hard tackles - but not too hard, which is why I wasn't sent off. I think the lads showed their character, we had a clean sheet as well, and even though we missed some chances we did the right things.”
Safri has something to prove after injuries last season which limited his long-term effectiveness. However, he's played four in a row this season, performed well, and looked trimmer and sharper than at any other time since his move to Carrow Road in the summer of 2004.
The spring, it appears, it back in his step.
“It was a really good performance - the second half much better than the first and we created a few chances as well,” he said. “We missed them but it is not a problem, we got a point from an away game and importantly we got a clean sheet and the way we played in the second half was really good as well. We had good energy and that's because we had a really good pre-season.
“This season we are really, really good and it is going to be very hard for any team to beat us - maybe only if we make mistakes ourselves.”