The media reaction to Sundays’ result and our apparent resurrection was as over the top as it was when they were dealing with our apparent demise about two weeks ago!
From “cracking up” Rafa suddenly appears to have undergone a miraculous recovery that would make Lazarus’ check his pulse. Now he is an insightful, tactical genius whilst Fergie from being the worldly wise, experienced, all knowing, old fox, carefully and reassuringly steering the Good Ship Manc towards more silverware, is a gibbering wreck close to taking up Rafa’s cancelled booking at the asylum. Many say that genius cannot exist without a touch of madness but is it really a thin line this time or simply three games against Real, The Mancs and Aston Villa?
Of course papers need to be sold and viewers need to won so it’s only natural that reproters should seize on the latest development and try, however unconvincingly, to make something out of it. However, deep down they, like the rest of us, know there is a long way to go. The title remains out of our hands and for the Mancs to lose. Sometimes I can’t even bring myself to read all this stuff for fear that I might believe it and then risk being let down should it all go pear shaped again. At present we are in some kind of limbo eagerly anticipating the next development but sadly, because of international week, the wait is longer.
Generally when looking at the press one tries to get a good cross section but the Guardian alone this week has provided enough “insight”. I particularly enjoyed the articles about the contributions Jose Reina and Steven Gerrard made to Sunday’s game.
Reina was of course responsible for setting up Riera’s goal with along punt. So, helpful as ever, the Guardian treated us to a diagram of Reina’s contributions in the match which illustrated the number of times, complete with arrows shooting out from the goal to show the direction of his throw or kick, he has set up Liverpool moves. I might be wrong but if the ball goes out for a goal kick or Reina saves it, both happen quite a lot, then surely the start of the next move would from the goalkeeper? As there is no provision in the rules of football to restart play from say the centre circle or the corner flag or, better still, our opponents penalty it follows that Jose, just like any keeper, would be the source of quite a few moves? I await a diagram explaining how Kauto Star won the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Presumably it will show an arrow that “clears” every fence and ends up ahead of all the other arrows? Conclusion, the horse ran faster!
The following day there was an equally “informative” diagram trying to emphasise Gerrard’s impact in his more forward role. The arrows detailed his shots against Villa but two of them were from the penalty spot! When is shot not a shot? “He had six shots and scored three times” we were told despite the fact that the day before Richard Williams and indeed Gerrard himself had suggested that the “hat trick” was dubious because it involved two spot kicks!
Finally it appears according to Richard Williams again that we have poor old Emile Heskey to blame for our upturn and Villa’s slump.
“When Rafael Benítez failed to buy Emile Heskey in January, he went against the advice of those of us convinced we could see exactly what Liverpool were missing – and who then congratulated Martin O’Neill on snapping up a player capable of adding the last piece to the Aston Villa jigsaw.
The consequences have been fascinating and salutary to observe. Since the closure of the transfer window, faltering Liverpool have played 10 matches, winning seven, drawing one and losing two, while high-flying Villa have played nine, won two, drawn one and lost six. Conclusions on a postcard, please.”
If anyone could be bothered to send in a card I suspect the conclusions would be more about Richard Williams than Emile Heskey. Perhaps it should also be illustrated with a diagram?