Udinese, referee love and Stevie G and that elusive Premiership gong.

So have referees got it in for Liverpool FC?

I bet if you took a poll of all the fans in the league a significant amount would say that their club also never gets a fair crack of the whip from the men in black.  A sign that they are consistent in their treatment of teams or that fans are just generally down on them remembering the bad decisions as opposed to the numerous ones they get right?

Despite this Brendon Rogers has decided to raise the issue of what he sees as an apparent bias of referees towards Luis Suarez and the team in general. His argument may be valid but I wonder if it’s wise to challenge or question them in this way. Not because they are often wrong but simply because they are human, have pride and vanity (well some) probably don’t take too kindly this sort of caper and will  seek to eek out revenge by booking our players on some obscure pretext such as “looking at me in a funny way” or “wearing a offensively sleeved away kit”. Then again if they can’t put with criticism what are they doing as referees?

 If you’d asked me about this a few matches ago I would have said we hadn’t got a leg to stand on however consecutive incidents in league games, both involving Luis Suarez, put a different slant on this. The first was a tackle on Suarez by The Mancs’ Johnny Evans the second, the more obvious one, last weekend from Norwich’s Leon Barnett.

I guess the question is why weren’t the penalties given? For a referee to miss one penalty incident involving Liverpool may be regarded as misfortune to miss both looks like carelessness (apologies to Oscar Wilde!). I use the word carelessness however, both were involving Luis Suarez a coincidence or part of something a tad wider and more sinister? Suarez has dived in the past and TV replays have shown this however, this is no excuse for the blanket treatment. It would be lazy and “unprofessional” of referees to simply not bother looking at any incident involving our man simply because he has dived and must therefore be diving now. Furthermore it is also irresponsible. If Suarez isn’t to be protected by referees when he is fouled then what sort treatment, from opposing defenders, can he expect? Some, because of referee’s attitude, may regard it as “open season” on the striker?

 Moving on and… “Have you ever seen Gerrard win the league”

Was the chant blurted out from the Anfield Road end during the 2-1 defeat to the Mancs the other week? Of the course the answer is “no” despite the fact that our captain has won every other domestic honour in the game. Sadly it appears that Gerrard, despite showing no signs of giving up playing and fighting for the reds, has had a dose of realism.

 “It’ll be a miracle if we win the title before I finish, I say that because of my age and the situation with rivalries. The league has become more difficult to win. Even if we do sneak into the top four, I’ll be 33 at the end of the season, so that’s why it’ll be a miracle if we win the title before I finish. But I’ll keep fighting. I’ll keep trying and see what happens.”

 What are the odds on Gerrard winning the league title with the Reds before he jacks it all in? There is still raging optimism amongst many reds however, how much of that is just showy bravado rather than a deeply held, logically thought out conviction? It is sad, that despite everything he has done Stevie (correctly?) appears resigned to the fact that the last medal won’t materialise? Miracles do happen, look at the golf last weekend, and I guess Gerrard has been present at one, in Istanbul, but perhaps that was just one too far? Perhaps he could take a page out of John Terry’s book and gatecrash the next Premiership winners celebration? Thankfully however Gerrard has more class than that and despite not winning the trophy the vast majority of players, even those who play for the Mancs,  would envy his record.We should be thankful he has chosen to end his career with us.

 Anyway the league is held in abeyance tonight as we entertain Udinese in the next installment of our Thursday night footballing community service punishment? On paper the Italians present more of a challenge than our tie against Young Boys, and with Stoke instead of the Mancs lying in league wait on Sunday, one wonders if BR will field a stronger side, is there any need to given the way the youngsters have performed this season. Presumably some will be given more chances as we are still without Kelly and Enrique?

 Rumours are that Joe Cole will be available for selection and I guess this would an ideal opportunity to ease himself back in before getting injured again! I don’t know why but despite his minimal contribution, numerous injuries and high salary I’m still well disposed to Cole. I get the impression that he still wants to make an impression with us to justify his signing and all the time and money we’ve invested in him, lets hope he gets a longer run and responds to the challenge?

 Prediction? Above all I hope he we can continue the upward curve of form we’ve seen in recent weeks which is slowly beginning to pay off in terms of results. I think this is the first time we have played Udinese in European competition and although we don’t always seem to do well against Italian clubs (Google says we’ve only won eight out of twenty games) I take us shade this one by two of our goals to their one.

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