As usual I was daft enough to book our holiday for a week after the football season had begun? And as usual, partly due lack of technical expertise and inertia, I wasn’t able to post things to this blog. However, I continued to write in short bursts in the vain hope that I’d be able to post. So here it is, some of it seven days late, old news to you but as I’ve written it, I want to post it, “for the record”.
Saturday 22nd August
Travelling to the holiday cottage and very little Liverpool news today as most of the media seemed to be concentrating on The Ashes, Manchester City’s first home game and the demise of their neighbours which clearly is an issue given their midweek result against Burnley. No doubt this will be revised following their 5-0 win at Wigan. I don’t wish to defend the Mancs but there is too much fickleness in some bits of the media as writers and commentators try to make every week and every match a key one with scant regard for to wider picture. Still some things never change though Sam Allardyce always keeps whingeing!
It was weird seeing Michael Owen score for the Mancs as if it was confirmation of his “treachery”. Perhaps that is too harsh maybe disappointment at his move is more accurate and who can blame Owen given the circumstances he found himself in during the summer? The goal bought home the reality of the situation which I’ve probably been in denial about since news of the move broke. Watching it I felt as if something had finally gone. Emotional ties finally cut? Time will tell.
Sunday 23rd August
I see Phil Dowd was up to it again today awarding a highly dubious penalty to Everton against Burnley. One wonders if this was a hang over from the other week at White Hart Lane. Perhaps, having seen the replays of the challenge on Voronin and then the handball, he felt he was wrong, at least with one of the incidents? Maybe he was conscious of this as Hibbert “fell” under McCann’s “challenge yesterday and, for fear of being accused of missing yet another incident, decided to award it? Instead all he’s done is made the situation worse for himself.
In yesterday’s Guardian, which due to the long drive I didn’t get to read until today on a windy but bloody hot beach, there was an interview with Peter Crouch who recalled an incident that happened to him just after he’d signed for Liverpool….
“…the day he signed for Liverpool and was walking outside the stadium, soaking up the history, when a double-decker bus rolled past and someone leaned out of the top window. “Crouch,” came the shout. “You lanky w*nker.”
This reminds me of the first time I visited Glasgow. I was due to spend six months working there and had arranged to meet an old school friend with a view to finding accommodation. I arrived a Central Station and had only been in Scotland’s best city (I mean that) for time it took to get off the train and walk out of the station on the street when I was asked, by a rather intimidating “gentlemen” for “20p for a cup of tea” I genuinely had no money and said so and was greeted by the words “f**k off back to England then you lanky tw*t” Welcome to Scotland!
Monday 24th August
Aston Villa today and the quest for a pub to watch the game starts, it’s on ESPN. I noticed there’s a Social Club about a mile down the road from where we are staying which is advertising Sky Sports amongst its facilities’. Perhaps they’ve also got ESPN? No such luck “What’s that” when I go down and ask. In the end a combination of having to take a four mile walk to the nearest village either way and the fact that Norwich are on Sky meaning that the locals will probably be watching that anyway, made me take the Radio Five Live lying on the lawn in the garden looking at the stars option!
I won’t report on the game as by the time you read this it will be old news. Suffice to say that, initially at least, it’s dispiriting. Last season we lost two games now, with this campaign still taking its first tentative steps, we’ve equalled that. Before this many thought we would be in with a real chance this season? However, disturbingly even at these early stages, I hear words like “tired” and “uninspired”. The age old issue, vulnerability from set pieces, came back to visit us with the annoying persistency of the wasps that buzz around here. Time and time again we are found wanting.
Radio Five Live, as we were losing, bought up the Alonso issue and then suggested that Mascherano and Lucas were too similar. I felt desperately sorry for Lucas, his own goal and Rafa’s criticism of him after the game won’t placate those who get on his back but did he need to head it? A lack of width was also mentioned, which was the same problem this time last season until we signed Reira but he was on the bench last night. Perhaps Rafa still needs to find the right balance but, with Aquilani still injured, maybe he can’t yet?
Finally why does the tone and style of Alan Green’s commentary always make it sound as he is giving you a lecture, telling you off like some naughty schoolboy? No doubt he feels he is telling it as it is and giving you his opinion. Fine if you want it or respect it however I prefer a more equitable, less bombastic, less self centred and less verbose, balance between this and what should be his main and, on reflection, only function which is to describe the action.
Liverpool: Reina, Insua, Carragher, Skrtel, Johnson, Benayoun, Leiva, Mascherano, Kuyt, Gerrard (c), Torres. Subs – Babel, Cavalieri, Dossena, Kelly, Riera, Sanchez Ayala, Voronin
Aston Villa: Friedel, Shorey, Beye, Davies, Cuellar, Milner, Reo-Coker, Sidwell (c), Petrov, Agbonlahor, Young. Subs – Albrighton, Delfouneso, Delph, Gardner, Guzan, Heskey, Lowry
Tuesday 25th August
So the papers can dust down the “what’s wrong with Liverpool articles” a lot sooner than they think? Three games and two defeats but some of the arguments don’t stack up yet as early days. A favourite is that Rafa doesn’t have the squad. However, Alonso’s departure and Johnson’s arrival notwithstanding, little has changed in the first eleven. It was interesting to hear Rafa calling for senior players such as Torres and Gerrard to step up to the plate and get the team moving. I wonder how Gerrard privately feels about this when in the past it’s been his contribution that has often been the sole reason for us being dug out of the s*** in games. Surely the responsibility doesn’t just lie with Gerrard and Torres but the entire squad?
Finally it seemed appropriate that we visited a place called Dinosaur World today given the scenes for Upton Park.
There seem to be two types of “yob” who exhibit the dinosaur characteristics, both were on display at Upton Park tonight. The first is the younger Pterodactyl yob (not strictly a dinosaur more a flying predatory reptile) so called because when it invades the pitch it screeches around aimlessly flapping it’s arms/wings. The underpants are over the trousers. The second is the older Triceratops yob (a larger heavier dinosaur a bit like a rhino) that lumbers around the pitch heavily plated in armour or in this case flesh flaying madly and pointlessly. They are normally bald and the beer belly is over, well over, the trousers.
Sadly both should be redundant but have you noticed that attention seekers always tend to be knob heads and very stupid. I’d hazard a guess the “real hooligans” were fighting outside the ground before the game away from the TV? Whatever the case in this day and age excuses such as it’s “West Ham v Millwall what do you expect?” are cheap unconsidered cop outs and simply do not wash. Will his affect England’s World Cup bid as some are suggesting? I doubt it, the only thing FIFA will probably conclude is that England has an obesity problem?
Wednesday 26th August
The Villa fall out continues with Yossi Benayoun, who has had all of twenty four hours to come with this pearl of wisdom, suggesting that Liverpool won’t be the only side to lose to Martin O’Neill’s men this season. I’m pretty sure O’Neill is hoping that this is the case otherwise they will be deep s***! The fact that others might fail as we did doesn’t really address our problem or make me feel better but thanks Yossi!
Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail suggested Rafa is a victim of “pigeonhole characterisations” – what, this is the Daily Mail complaining about pigeonholing. Apparently Rafa gets the praise he does because he is foreign and therefore clever and astute in his dealings whereas those of home grown managers such as Harry Redknapp are viewed as “dodgy”. A nonsensical article you only have to compare Redknapp’s record, on the pitch and with money, with Rafa’s to see so. It’s also an article which is bordering on the “dodgy” itself and certainly in keeping with the xenophobic and pigeon hole editorial policy of dreadful rag Samuel writes for? “Bloody foreigners” eh Martin?
Thursday 27th August
If reassurance was ever needed it came from Kenny Dalglish last night who was “punditing” for ITV on the Arsenal v Celtic game. I can’t actually remember exactly what he said about our start to the season but it was positive, cool and laid back and made me feel better. The ambassadorial skills are coming on a treat!
It is the Champion League draw today and although we, along with the other three English teams, are in the top group as always there is a risk of getting a difficult draw. Although the top two go through clearly we would want to avoid Real, Juventus and Inter who are in the second group and, if their performance in the pre season friendly against us is anything to go by, Atletico Madrid who are in pot three. I guess more than ever we need an easy group as we are still spluttering and it’s always good to get one which involves as little travel as possible? However, we have to take what we get.
Friday 28th August
So it’s Debrecen, Fiorentina and Lyon. Not bad, it could be worse. Travelling isn’t an issue. Of the teams Lyon do not appear to be the side they were three or four years a go but should still prove a challenge. Fiorentina after a few years in the wilderness due to relegation and points deductions due to match fixing have hauled themselves back to around the top of the Italian league. The fact that had to qualify through two rounds to get here should not be regarded as a sign of weakness. Debrecan? I’ve never heard of them however, it goes without saying they should never be underestimated and I’m sure, as we play them first, they won’t.
As usual UEFA, with the eyes of Europe on the draw, used the situation to peddle out their latest mad cap ideas. The old chestnut about clubs having to balance their books before they can enter the Champions League will surely perpetuate the formation of a breakaway European League as those big clubs most affected by the new rules will tell UEFA to “stuff it”? Finances are an issue but they shouldn’t preclude qualification for the competition. They’ll be insisting that players sport a tie next!
The other issue was the decision to punish Arsenal’s Eduardo for his “dive” the other night. I’m assuming that all other “dives” in the competition, be they inside or outside the area will now receive similar treatment. It would be great if this were the case however, I suspect it won’t happen which means that Arsenal, regardless of Eduardo being in the right or the wrong, have every reason to feel aggrieved.
That’s it, here’s to home and victory at the Reebok tomorrow.