“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
I can‘t believe the reaction to Sunday particularly as we are only one game into the new season.
Already after one defeat everyone is morning the loss of Xabi Alonso and, as a result, casting aspersions on our title hopes! There seems to be a trend to hastily draw conclusions much quicker these days. Perhaps this will in history be known as the “Bryan Gunn Syndrome”. Obviously Rafa isn’t going to be sacked after one defeat and surely some of the things that have been written about the team in the light of Sunday’s, admittedly uninspiring, performance are woefully premature?
The Alonso issue is cheap lazy conclusion to draw. He’s gone we’ve lost, so we must be missing him Q.E.D.? More like C .R.*.P!
How can anyone in their right mind know what the outcome will be yet? Firstly Alberto Aquilani hasn’t pulled on a red shirt in anger so no comparison, if any, can be drawn between him and Xabi over their impact on the side. Reports have said we’ll miss Alonsos’ passing as if the rest of the squad have got club foots or their boots on the wrong feet! Now Xabi has gone apparently we have rudderless midfield and an insolvable tactical conundrum. If only Rafa had been warned that if he sold Xabi there would be absolutely no other solutions and that his season would already be doomed before it even started!
One has to ask is the make up of the side so fragile that it’s going to be trashed beyond repair by the departure of one player? Throughout last season at differing stages we were without Gerrard, Torres, Mascherano, Skrtel, Agger and oh yes, least we forget, Alonso. Yet despite this suddenly we’ve assumed the reputation of a delicate outfit whose balance and effectiveness is thrown out of kilter by the slightest change in personnel. Really? It should be remembered that this is team with a reputation for being regularly rotated by its manager so surely the “disruption” caused by the departure of one player should not be the issue everyone wants to think it is? This is team which many call a two man team because of Torres and Gerrard, now it seems Xabi has made it three! All too soon the figure will increase to four of five making the argument redundant!
Xabi has departed, we should get used to it, change and move on? Had we won on Sunday would it be such an issue? The papers and TV pundits would be no doubt praising Rafa’s business nous in selling Xabi and the side’s versatility and adaptability?
One thing that has been on my mind about Sunday and has been for a couple of weeks was just how tired and uninspired we’ve looked. Perhaps this was down to our busy preseason itinerary? I think we were among the most widely travelled of the premiership clubs this summer with trips to Switzerland, Austria, Thailand, Singapore, Spain and Norway. Surely this must take it out the squad physically and mentally and has perhaps contributed to the injuries we’ve had? In addition for all the games we played one wonders if we were lacking a bit of understanding on Sunday as we didn’t really play what one would regard as our first team line up on any of these trips. May be we should stay closer to home next season, rest rather than travel between games and have more “full first team dress rehearsals”.
Finally, at the risk of trying to turn this into a list of excuses, there is the issue of Sunday’s referee. As soon as I saw the two late penalty claims I thought that’s what Rafa would seize on
“The decisions were very poor. Everyone could see the first one was a penalty. The second one was handball but we knew it would not be a penalty.”
Fair enough but this shouldn’t detract from what was a poor display. Although outwardly Rafa is directing his anger at Phil Dowd inwardly it must at the team and their performance. In all honesty had we been awarded the two additional penalties and scored them the result would have been an injustice – it would have nice though!
Thankfully we have the opportunity tonight to put things right against Stoke not only after Sunday but also for our performances against them last season when we managed two goalless draws. Stoke’s style is an acquired taste but, if last season’s evidence is anything to go by, effective just the sort of opposition we need after Sunday’s bruising encounter!
Who will be fit? Who knows? One assumes the doctors have applied the necessary amounts of vinegar and brown paper to Carragher’s head and packed Skrtel off to Kwick Fit to get his jaw sorted! Whatever the case we need a better performance than Sunday and I take us to achieve this with a 2-0 win. It can’t get any worse. Can it?
Enjoy the game.