I could make all sorts of excuses for not writing recently. A long protracted birthday event (it was a big one this year -“Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.”) illness and then work commitments however I’ve had all these before and still managed to trot out something.
Trouble is this season is different. The incentive to talk about the team hasn’t really been there probably because I needed a break but also because we’ve been so bland recently. Performances have had that “curates egg” aura about them. Leaving aside Sunday’s game what has there been to get excited about? The two recent 0-0 draws against West Ham and at Reading (I still can’t fathom out how we didn’t manage to win that one), were below par in the sense that we should have been expected to get more than the two points we did. However, ever denying the bleeding obvious, Brendan Rogers speaks about them as if we’ve just gone over to Nou Camp and come away with a resounding 3-0 victory!
Whatever is said I guess the table doesn’t lie and we find ourselves “marooned” in some kind of upper mid table quarantine, in seventh place five points behind Everton and six in front of West Brom. Perhaps after the weekends incidents that is the best place for us? Away from everyone!
However, first things first. There was room for optimism and hope given this years independent commission’s findings re Hillsborough. However, understandably, the death of Margaret Thatcher has caused many to look back stoking up fresh anger about her government’s role in the disaster. Thatcher’s part in this seems to be obscured by the decisions and findings of others and one wonders, given her lack of affinity with any kind of sport let alone football, just how much of a say she did have over matters perhaps, now she has gone, we will find out?
For all her numerous faults my celebrating Thatcher’s demise was done when she resigned. I still remember the joy of that day, and I do not use the word “joy” lightly. Her death is a historical moment and I’ll always remember it as it was on my birthday, yet many will not look too favourably on the celebrations that accompanied it as after all, when all is said and done, she is someone’s mother. Sadly Anne Williams was just that too however that is where the similarity ends. Anne was the mother of 15 year old Kevin, one of the Hillsborough victims. Sadly one of Thatcher’s many shameful legacies (and that of other governments after her) is that their dithering and attempts to stall and cover up the events of 15th April 1989 meant that Anne died without seeing justice for her son.
To the Chelsea game and I’ve no doubt you’ve seen it now. It was nice to see Rafa back. He wants to come back as well doesn’t he, you can just tell it? I hope Chelsea fans will learn from the display of manners we showed him and afford him the same respect for the rest of his time at Stamford Bridge, I doubt it. I thought the game was a microcosm of our season, reasonably play punctuated by bits and bobs of mediocrity and one or two outstanding moments. Both our goals were excellent however, as ever, we pressed the self destruct button at the back and then of course there was the curious incident of the Dog and Chelsea defender?
What can you say about Luis Suarez? Is there any point as probably most of it has been said already? I find it weird that ex reds such as Graeme Souness and Alan Hansen now wax lyrical about the damage this incident has done to the club, surely Suarez’s earlier indiscretion of making a racist comment, to the Mancs’ Patrice Evra, was worse? Perhaps they feel are on more comfortable ground now? Whilst it is sad that this has overshadowed remembering the 96 and Anne Williams it is debatable clubs reputation has been damaged, time and time again, particularly over Hillsborough the club has seen it strengthened, surely the only damage is to Suarez and Suarez alone?
What is significant this time (compared to the Evra incident) is the way the club have quickly responded. With ”Evragate”, on the surface at least, it was left to Kenny to tough it out on his own. Perhaps if the suits had been more supportive (and braver?) then Kenny might still be with us now rather than having to doggedly try and answer question after question and needlessly put himself in the firing line?
It’s ironic that, in one of papers over the weekend, Suarez was talking about playing street football back home and how a degree of “cunning, naughtiness and feistiness” was required. Even Suarez would be hard pushed to suggest this includes chomping away at players arms! Can even the most fiercely loyal of reds fans condone what Suarez has done? Probably not but let’s not get too sanctimonious about it. Yes Suarez has been over here long enough to know better and it is not the first time he’s wielded his knashers! All in all I suspect there will be a wailing and knashing of teeth (no pun intended) and then everyone will move on to something else it’s not as if Luis has murdered anyone or even endangered Ivanovic’s career. Luis will carry on playing well for us, being our darling and everyone else’s pantomime villain. It remains to be seen what will happen should Suarez commit another indiscretion but I’m fairly sure the inspiration behind any move will not be some pious, moralistic stance about the way players behave but money most specifically how much we can get for the player if we decide to offload him.
What now for Suarez? I believe he was banned for seven games when he last wielded his choppers in anger in Holland. He was banned for eight games because of the Evra incident so surely a seven match ban, or less, would be appropriate? Any more and then we are getting into the area of what is worse, racially abusing a player or giving him and overly enthusiastic kiss! Despite this one wouldn’t be surprised if the FA courted further controversy with their decision. One thing however is sure I think we have seen the last of Luis Suarez in red shirt for this season which sadly, given the clubs current position in the table, won’t be a major blow?