I might be wrong but, if memory serves me right, in billiards you also get three points for going in off the red!
No doubt by the time you read this the whole “beach ball” episode will have been discussed and dissected in great depth. Why? Because it’s just the sort of gimmicky headline (opps I should talk) that everyone wants to seize on these days. No doubt the rules governing alien objects on the pitch will have been dusted down. However, this is not the main concern nor is it an excuse for the defeat.
All too often managers or players will seize on something like the incident that lead to Sunderland’s’ goal and use it a convenient excuse. “It cost us the game” is the phrase which is usually directed at the referee for a decision he has made. Of course this is nonsense it’s a Fergiesque diversionary tactic. We had more than enough about us the day to turn it around but simply couldn’t. It is one incident of many and, as it happened it the first five minutes, should never been used as an excuse.
I heard Rafa being interviewed on Radio Five Live and was expecting him to be his usual bullish self however, it’s the most depressed I’ve heard him in all the time he’s been with us. He seemed resigned to the fact that on the day we weren’t good enough and more worryingly that we do lack strength in depth? The line up seemed to suggest so with Jay Spearing (who played really well) coming into play midfield. Rafa also, as if recognising this, played three centre backs, Carragher, Skrtel and Agger. I guess with Johnson and Aurelio, and their penchant for the overlap, this made sense?
The offending ball was clearly seen to be in José Reina’s goal at the beginning of the game. However, like the giant breast in Woody Allens “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)” it assumed a life of it’s own and broke free into the six yard area. Perhaps we were now playing four centre halves or where the Sunderland fans, at the other end, having a mass suck?
Bent’s shot from Reid’s cross hit the ball as entered the net. Enough to put Reina off? The football, once it left Bent’s boot, was travelling at speed and did seem to deflect, and the rules state that the goal should not have stood. However, what’s done is done and perhaps a more relevant question was why Aurelio allowed Reid to get his cross in and why Bent was totally unmarked when he collected it?
Above all this what I can’t fathom is why the **** didn’t Reina, or one the other members of the team, simply kick the ball back into the crowd or burst it? Why place it in the goal? It’s also ironic that the ball came from our end? Can we expect a newspaper interview “I was Liverpool beach ball boy”
After that we made a decent fist of trying to get back into the game, right until the end when Ngog should have equalised. However, overall we were second best. Bent gave the defence a torrid time getting into two or three good scoring positions only to denied by Reina and, on one occasion, the post,
Rafa became for agitated and animated as the game went on and his frustration was underlined by a bust up with Sunderland manager Mrs Doubtfire over Jones’ injury. All in all it was a day to forget and a sobering wake up call for the rest of the week. Time to move on and get this out of our system?
As for the beach ball I believe Spurs are interested!
Liverpool: Reina, Aurelio, Skrtel, Carragher (captain), Johnson, Benayoun, Agger, Leiva, Spearing, Babel, Kuyt. Subs – Cavalieri, Voronin, Riera, Mascherano, Insua, Ngog, Kelly
Sunderland: Gordon, McCartney, Turner, Ferdinand, Bardsley, Reid, Cattermole, Cana (captain), Malbranque, Bent, Jones. Subs – Fulop, Nosworthy, Da Silva, Henderson, Zenden, Campbell, Healy