Even though the game is on Wednesday the papers began to stoke up the Champions League banter over the weekend.
One wonders how much of this is a genuine or simply an attempt by the media to create something between the two clubs which isn’t really there. Don’t get me wrong, players and managers will always comment on the opposition, and Liverpool and Chelsea have had their spats in the past, but are some of the stories deliberate one-upmanship or simply a case of skewing the facts to make good copy?
For example, are Rafa’s comments about Didier Dorgba’s diving a criticism of the player, or merely a concern about the referee?
“With Drogba it is important to have a good referee. You can’t do anything (to stop him going down) but I will say it because it was so clear. Drogba was given seven fouls and Fernando Torres three. Torres has bruises all around the body. So from the first minute I was disappointed by the referee.”
The emphsis, rightly or wrongly, seems to be on Drogba rather than the referee even though all Rafa seems to have done is complain about the officials since Tuesday. Why? Because it suits the match build up for both teams to be sparing in this way. Forget about the fact everyone knows Drogba dives as do lots of other players, including our own.
This contrasts with Graham Poll’s comments in his Daily Mail (I didn’t buy it!) column over the weekend in which he addresses the same subject only this time it’s Ronaldo who goes down to easily. The week before he accused Steven Gerrard of doing the same thing and him a “cheat”. One wouldn’t normally let this go but is it really worth it. It’s only Graham Poll being Graham Poll vainly and sadly trying to keep himself in the headlines by riding on the back of top player’s newsworthiness and then saying controversial things about them. However, it is ironic that while Poll and Benitez are complaining about the same thing their solutions differ. What is Benitez’s? A stronger referee. What is Poll’s? More respect from players and managers? It seems that everyone is still Poll’s (sic) apart?
Meanwhile back to the attempts to get the two teams snarling at each other like caged tigers. John Terry has been widely reported as criticizing our fans in his Mancs match day programme comments. Jonathan Northcroft in The Sunday Times said
“John Terry, the Chelsea captain, has fanned the flames, though, by using his programme notes yesterday to accuse Liverpool supporters of “disgusting” chants at Anfield.”
However if you read his programme notes to do so click here there is no mention of the word “disgusting”. Merely a plea for the Chelsea fans to make life as difficult for us on Wednesday as we did for them last Tuesday.
When Jose Mourinho was at Chelsea it was easy for the media to build up our games and turn them into grudge matches. Mourinho only had to open his mouth and a contraversial quote or story would come tumbling out, especially as he and Rafa didn’t see eye to eye? However, now it seems that writers such as Northcroft have their work cut out as by and large Grant and Benitez seem content to concentrate on the real matter matter in hand, the game.
Meanwhile it appears the Government will be looking at the board spat as part of an investigation into governance in the game. Although our story has captured all the headlines, one wonders if we are the main thrust of the investigation, I doubt it and I suspect it will be more wide ranging affair. However, mentioning our name and our circumstances certainly gives the investigation the publicity it needs?
Finally I enjoyed reading this article by Tony Evans (click here). It is basically a personalized list, of Liverpool events, memories and experiences some good, some bad, some sad but all adding up to experience of supporting our great club.
Back tomorrow with a review of the semi second leg.