Result irrelevant as “We all dream of a team of Carraghers”

Liverpool 1-0 Queens Park Rangers

1-0 Coutinho (23)

For most Reds this game was always going to be secondary to the occasion. Not because of the opposition, or our situation, which means we are marooned in seventh place, how many clubs yesterday knew where they would finish before they played… Oh yes, The Mancs did didn’t they!

At the end of the game the players walked around the pitch with their kids, saluted and thanked the crowd however, all it did was bring home just how little we have to thank them for in terms of something tangible to show from this campaign. Work in progress is the watchword just how many people at Anfield yesterday feel we are on course and on the way to better things remains to be seen? BR in his programme notes summed it up for me

“I have a long way to go to gain your trust fully”

Anyway I digress I’d prefer to forget all about this hone in on Jamie Carragher. It was his last game. The guard of honour, at the start of the game, and Kop mosaic showing initials and squad number were great and were the first of many tributes, even QPR were classy and decent enough to present him with a special gift. However, in true style, Carragher seemed determined to write his own script. After the game he said

“I scored on my debut 16 years ago and it would have been nice to finish that way, but it wasn’t to be”

Jamie had a bloody try at trying to with a rasping thirty yard effort that smacked the post. He even tried to handle one in which the referee spotted but, as a defender, he will surely take some solace from the clean sheet the side kept? Chants of ”one more year” were a prelude to the standing ovation Jamie deservedly received as he was substituted after 85 minutes and after match tributes in front of The Kop.

To the game and BR made one significant change. The inclusion of seventeen years old Jordon Ibe, a sign that whilst players like Carragher move on, there are others ready to replace him in the queue? Ibe had a hand in the goal cutting inside to feed Coutinho whose shot flew into the bottom right hand corner of the QPR net. QPR had their moments via Zamora and Remy however efforts from Enrique, Johnson and of course Carragher suggested that the scoreline did not reflect our domience?
So the season is ended and although there is nothing to show there is a lot to look back on. However, before that, three things about today.

This was dead rubber game however surely the score of the day should be, in terms of dignity alone, Rafa Benitez infinite, Chelsea fans none.

Secondly congratulations to Malcolm Oakley for being voted QPR’s fan of the year. It’s his fiftieth year watching the ‘Rs and he’s not missed a home game in all that time. In the hard times they even phoned him up and offered to put the kick off time back so he could finish tiling his bathroom! Well done Malc, hope you enjoyed the trip and the “honour” is really well deserved it says a lot about your loyalty, your love of football, your dedication and, as it’s QPR, your perseverance!

However, appropriately, the last words should be left to Jamie Carragher

“I’ve had lots of great times and have got lots of great memories and that is down to Liverpool Football Club and the supporters who have dragged us over the line many times. Istanbul, Cardiff; you’ve played your part. Thank you.”

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Carragher, (Coates – 85′ ), Skrtel, Phillippe Coutinho (Suso – 74′ ), Henderson Booked, Downing, Lucas, Ibe (Borini – 64′ ), Sturridge Substitutes: Jones, Coates, Wisdom, Coady, Assaidi, Borini, Suso,

Queens Park Rangers: Green, Traore, Hill Booked, Onuoha, Harryman, Derry Booked, Park Ji-sung (Hoilett – 80′ ), Townsend Booked, M’bia, Remy (Granero – 46′ ), Zamora (Mackie – 72′ ), Substitutes: Murphy, Fabio, Granero, Hoilett, Ehmer, Mackie

Att: 44,792

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Farewell Jamie Carragher – “a decent lad” and a Red legend

It seems to be a week for retirements particularly for current, and ex Mancs. The best and most pointless, given his recent participation in that area, was Rio Ferdinand announcing his retirement from international football. Still it’s good trend so I’m now going to take a leave out of Rio’s book by announcing to the world my retirement from brain surgery and professional snooker!

For Liverpool this weekend will see Jamie Carragher take his last competitive bow for us. Our opponents, Queens Park Rangers, aren’t as sniffy and aloof as Arsenal and will form part of guard of honour to give Jamie a deserved send off. As this game is something of a “dead rubber” I hope everyone will concentrate on the big man and give him a deserved and memorable send off.

Yesterday Carragher was asked how he would like to be remembered. He replied

“A decent lad who had a go”

With respect to Jamie although this is true it is also a serious underestimation, not to mention modest, appraisal of want he’s given to the game. As I’m writing this Arsene Wenger is on the TV talking about David Beckham. He’s using words such as “respect”, “passion”, “strength”, “commitment” and “dedication” and being an “example”. All of this also applies to Jamie Carragher. I would also add longevity, determination, pride and a refusal to be undermined particularly when it came to Liverpool FC.

Defenders have come and gone but JC has outlived them and despite, fierce competition still managed to see of their threats. Even this season when you could forgive BR for looking to the future and investing in youth Carragher still bounced back and featured in the team after Christmas to the point that BR wished to extend his contract. His versatility undoubtedly helped (he could play at centre or full back and even, albeit rarely, in midfield) but it’s almost as if he’s saying this is my city, my club and my place in the team and you might replace me for a bit but you are going to have to be dam good to do it permanently! Seven hundred plus appearances for us prove that he had the upper hand and that you can’t keep a good man, or a good player, down?

Then there was his England career. All to often this was forgotten as mangers went for Terry and Ferdinand. Brassed off with this Carragher retired in 2007. Someone on Talksport said he lacked bottle for doing that which is the equivalent of suggesting that when it comes to drinking Oliver Reed is a lightweight. Carragher’s on the pitch spirit transferred itself to the phone call he made to the presenter as he let him have it with both barrels! Significantly it was Carragher that Fabio Capello turned to when he had a defensive problem in the 2010 World Cup and he successfully coaxed him out of retirement, another comeback!

Another example of Jamie’s refusal to give to give up was went he broke his leg via Blackburn’s Lucas Neill tackle however, and despite threats from more new signings, he returned and featured in the miracle of Istanbul and became a permanent fixture in Rafa’s sides. Surely Istanbul must be first and foremost in Carragher’s mind when looking back over his career. He was immense in that game and seemed, at breaking point. There was one stage late in the game where he appeared to collapse with cramp but he got up and carried on and was able to advise Jerzy Dudek to adopt Bruce Grobbelaar’s wobbly legs routine in the penalty shootout. Surely for him and Steven Gerrard, given their birth place and the clubs history, this was the moment, the time where their dreams became a reality and they themselves secured a part in the clubs history that they’d been all too aware of during their youth and early years with the club?

Many have suggested that Carragher would be and ideal candidate to go into management. They say he lives and breathes football and has definite opinions on the game however he has opted to become one of the numerous ex reds that have gone into football punditry. Perhaps this will sate his appetite for the game without the added pressure? May be it’s just a breather, time to take stock before he really decides what to do? Whatever the case I can’t see him being away from the game too long..

Tomorrow, in addition to the guard of honour, the Kop will display a mosaic, the advertising boards will display messages and there will be numerous flags – take note Mancs that is how to say goodbye to someone properly! Surely this will be an emotional moment for Jamie however, yesterday he was trying to keep his feet on the ground.

“Everyone has an opinion as to whatever you are a good or bad player as long as everyone thought I put in shift in, home and away”

You can’t argue with that but as those of us who were privileged to see him play know, Jamie Carragher gave much than that.

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Michael Owen and Liverpool FC – glory and regret?

This weekend will see Michael Owen bow out of football.

When he announced his retirement it didn’t really come as a surprise. As his football career went on the injuries became a greater part of it to the point that when you look back it is safe to say that Liverpool were fortunate enough to receive the best of his services.

It’s interesting that Owen, when looking back immediately after his announcement, suggested that he was over used by us in the early part of his career and that, as a result, he paid the price physically in his later years. Many would see this as sour grapes, an ungrateful swipe at a club that gave him the chance to make it big and to go and achieve and possess everything he has now. A club with whom he won the majority of his honours, collectively and individually.

Owen made his debut for us at he age of 17 against Wimbledon. Surely then “burn out” would have been achieved earlier, say in his late twenties, it wasn’t? Surely at that age it would have been hard to hold Owen back, use him sparingly, both player and club wanted to play as much as possible. Perhaps it was just Owen, some players are more prone to injuries than others? In The Guardian last month he said

“muscle injuries are another family trait. My farther suffered from them as a player and my brothers have been plagued by them too. It is bad luck in many ways, but some would say it is the price you pay for being quick.”

Perhaps we did learn a lesson as seen when we limited Steven Gerrard’s appearances in his early years However, to suggest Owen was some human resource forced to performance against his will when he wasn’t fit to seems hard to believe.

Perhaps Owen’s ire is born of the fact that after selling him to Real Madrid for a bargain price we wouldn’t, despite having opportunities to do so on more than one occasion, take him back? (see links at the bottom of this page) I’d be reading between the lines but surely it was folly for him to go to Spain so soon? Jamie Carragher, his closest friend at Liverpool, tried to dissuade him

“Liverpool had just signed Djibril Cisse and Milan Baros had returned from Euro 2004 as the winner of the Golden Boot. Michael felt the time was right to pursue a fresh challenge. I told him he was making a mistake, that Madrid were a football club rife with politics and he wouldn’t play. They had Raul and Ronaldo, who always played, and to be a success at Madrid, you had to be more than just a goalscorer but Michael wouldn’t be moved. He thought he was the best and would become a success in Spain”

Fantastic timing as under Rafa (well done last night by the way), we were about to embark a very productive run in the Champions league. Whilst Owen flitted in and out of the side Madrid side nine months later his old club, with many of his old team mates, lifted the very trophy he had probably decided to leave us for. Was this was a warning against impatience or, if you are being really harsh, greed? Whatever the case Istanbul was a Liverpool performance and milestone that, given his contribution to our football over the years, deserved Owen’s presence, I bet Baros and Cisse couldn’t believe their luck just as much as Owen was cursing his?

Instead Owen ended up at a series of clubs but I wonder if he still couldn’t get over leaving Liverpool. They say you always hurt the one love and he did that by eventually joining The Mancs (see link at the bottom of this page) If Owen had any hopes about rejoining us they were now gone, dead in the water.

Owen had yet to hang up his boots when he announced his retirement but it didn’t stop the from press writing about his career as soon as his plans became public. Many of his football “obituaries” seem to skate over his time with us in preference to his England career. By rights he should be England’s record scorer by now however injuries did for him plus the fact that recent managers, despite his record, seemed to favour others.

Two England incidents in particular are recalled, the goal against Argentina in the1998 World Cup and the hat trick in Munich against Germany. Although both were golden moments for me my magic Michael moment was the smash and grab in the 2001 Cup final against Arsenal. We looked to be beaten on that sunny day 1-0 and very much second best. However, with seven minutes to go, Owen popped up with two goals to single handedly snatch the trophy, I still can’t work out how he managed to thread that shot between David Seaman’s outstretched glove and his left hand post for the winner!

Because of the Mancs issue many Red’s fans will balk at praising Owen too much. He won’t be held in the same affection as say Robbie Fowler however, I can forgive he’s from Chester my home town and I watched his dad play at the old Sealand Road. He might not have had Robbie’s cock sure “one of the lads” panache, Suarez’s “pantomime villain”, loveliness Torres’ strutting ruthlessness and Rush’s clinical, razor sharp, execution however, his record amongst all these striking heroes, past and present can hold its head high. Owen recently said

‘…. would I change anything if I could rewind the clock? Not a chance.’

Maybe but the sad fact is it could have been so much better…. for Owen and for us?

Links to other Owen posts

Owen joins the Mancs

Owen to join Liverpool after Newcastle relegated?

Owen to leave Newcastle?

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Exit Fergie scourge of Liverpool!

So, what can you say about Fergie?

After all that time at the Theatre of Delusion he has finally called it day. That third European Cup/Champions League trophy has eluded him which means he hasn’t equalled Bob Paisley’s record. For all the bluff and bluster his career has ended in failure!!!!!

Clearly this is nonsense although having overhauled most of our records, he was at least decent enough to leave us with that one! Given all their clubs recent success it’s surprising that The Mancs fans really don’t know how to do send offs properly. Had this been Dalglish, or Paisley leaving the Kop would have been awash with flags what did have at Old Trafford a stack of manufactured ones left on seats, clearly the crowd can’t be relied on to add their own atmosphere. Even when Fergie was on the pitch we heard “Are you watching Merseyside”. Yes we were and one wonders just how narrow minded and inappropriately parochial they can get? The Mancs is a club on the world stage yet instead of lauding them and their departing manager they still see fit to have a go at us who have ceased to be genuine rivals to them for some time

No doubt some will say that Liverpool fans will greet Fergie’s going with the same glee as Thatcher’s the month before. Add to that the fact that Everton have also had their nose’s put out of joint by losing David Moyes and many feel it’s been a good week for us. Although I often succumb to it Schdenfruade is a negative concept, in this case anyway there is no logic to suggest that a few personnel “setbacks” to The Mancs and Everton will improve our lot and make theirs worse Even if both clubs are weakened are we in a position to take advantage, least it be forgotten we’re going to finish seventh in the league the departure of Fergie and the “transfer” of Moyes is hardly going to loosen the shackles of underachievement and see us rocketing up the table? There is a stack of work for us to do it is for, Brendon Rogers and his players, still a case of trying to improve business as usual, regardless of what happens to the clubs around us.

Liverpool fans have to ask themselves this, why did they get so narked with Fergie? First things first I don’t think it was jealously we “hated” him and The Mancs in general just as much when we were the more successful club. It pains me to say this but if you strip down all the rivalry and all the clout the Mancs have Fergie was no different to any other manager. Fergie wanted to win at all costs and was prepared to resort to any legal methods to gain an edge over the opposition be it on the pitch, or off it. It was also because he cared for his team and would defend and them at all costs, even if it meant going on the verbal offensive and becoming unpopular? Towards the end this got very predictable although it didn’t stop Rafa taking the bait, hook, line and sinker! I thought the best person at dealing with all this was Kenny. Of course it was easier when we were regularly beating United but even in this second spell as manager, when The Mancs, were in the ascendancy, he dealt with it well swatting away his wind ups with a “you’re confusing me with someone who gives a f*ck” indifference.

Chelsea fans in particular, pathetically and ignorantly, forget this in their dealings with Rafa. As far as I can see, he has done a good job at Stamford Bridge yet he’s still ungratefully treated like bad smell by some of the spoilt, oh so precious Chelsea fans because a few mild things he said about their club when he we was with us. This is all part of the game and it makes it even more puzzling that those same fans can indulge John Terry and all the ugliness his behaviour has bought to the table over the years.

Fans forget that Fergie, like Rafa, has a human side. Fergie was always respectful re Hillsborough. He pleaded for Mancs fans at the last Anfield game to respect the remembrance ceremony. He could have done nothing particularly as some Reds had given to his club for so long over Munich. I also had a mate who was at St Mirren when he was manager there and some of the stories he told me about Fergie would make even the most hardened of Reds fans question their attitude towards him. I often go back to these stories when he’s coming out with all the nonsense about Liverpool and remember, as Hillsborough painfully proved later, that things need to be put into perspective? Sure it is great to have a go at him, he like many other successful people in the public eye are sitting ducks, but that’s all it is, verbal cut and trust a bit of jousting. Serious? Yes but only up to a certain point?

I guess the main reason we disliked Fergie was because, like Mark Hughes or Roy Keane or Wayne Rooney, he was a threat and, dam him, good at want he did. Had the wind ups and verbal barbs eminated from the manager’s office at Anfield we would have loved him sadly they came from 40 miles down the road which, in many peoples books, made him the enemy? Now he has left the field of play perhaps it is time to at least give him a respectful nod for a second or two only …. before we get on with the business of resuming hostilities with The Mancs once more!!!

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Sturridge threesome outwits cottagers.

Fulham 1-3 Liverpool
Berbatov (33), 1-1 Sturridge (36), 1-2 (62), 1-3 (85)

It was a day where attentions were focused elsewhere, the chase for the Champions League, the struggle to avoid relegation and some do at the Theatre of Delusion. Unlike us, United don’t do flags very well, do they?

This game was seen as a hoo hum, dead rubber in terms of deciding things. Sure Fulham could go down given a freak mathematical occurrence not mention run of results however, it was humdrum unless of course you are Liverpool fan.

If I was being cynical I would say this was a end of season game against a side of the standard, assuming we are on the ball, we were more than capable of beating. Unlike Everton last week or those above them Fulham, like Newcastle a few weeks ago, are a side we can, if we the mind to, bully however, when it comes to facing up the big boys we are still callow, awkward youths!

BR made was forced into at least three changes Steven Gerrard has been wrapped in newspaper and stored away until next season pending a shoulder operation. He also shuffled the defence by including Wisdom and Coates as Agger (injured) and Skrtel (sick) were unavailable. Of course we were without Luis Suarez however, as with game up at St James Park his absence wasn’t felt. Daniel Sturridge, with his first Premiership hat trick, proved again that we have more than one option going forward.

It would be churlish to knock Sturridge after this performance, he was also roasted by the Fulham crowd because of his Chelsea connection, however his three goals were punctuated by some poor finishing and, arguably a lack of awareness to the alternative, easier chance i.e. a pass to a player in better position. However Suarez, for all the praise his play gets, is also no stranger to these “crimes” and thee goals cannot be argued with, as BR said

“He’s not perfect. He should have squared one when he was through. But he was looking for his hat-trick, he’s a goalscorer, and to be greedy you’ve got to be good. He’s an outstanding player.”

This victory made it seven unbeaten. Fulham had their moments but on the whole they were a distant second best as we cut through at will and created numerous chances. Despite this the home side started things off with a Berbatov’s typical, deceptively lazy far post header from Riether’s cross with Johnson and Carragher in no mans land. After that it was, more or less, one way traffic. It only took three minutes after the goal for us get on level terms. Sturridge athletically picked up Wisdom’s long ball, wriggled past Hughes and thumped it past a helpless Schwarzer in the Fulham goal.

Perhaps things might have taken a difference turn had the referee given a penalty when Lucas appeared to handle Ruiz’s cross. A penalty? Yes, I think so or does “ball to hand” hold much sway into today’s game? To make matters worse we promptly charged up the pitch and made it 2-1. The increasingly impressive Coutinho slipped as took his shot but the ball broke to Sturridge who had an easy job to side foot it home. Borini hit a post and Reina saved well from Hughes however eventually Sturridge, after number of misses thanks to poor finishing and some great saves from Schwarzer, finally secured his third after he picked up Coutinho’s inch perfect pass and flipped it over the keeper.

So a good day and there seem to be more them these days however, just like The Mancs and Everton all eyes, for different reasons, will now be on next season.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Hangeland, Richardson (Emanuelson – 15′ ), Hughes, Riether, Karagounis (Riise – 82′ ), Duff, Kacaniklic (Petric – 71′ ), Enoh, Berbatov, Ruiz Substitutes: Etheridge, Riise, Senderos, Frimpong, Emanuelson, Petric, Rodallega

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson Booked, Coates, Carragher, Wisdom (Jose Enrique – 46′ ), Phillippe Coutinho (Coady – 88′ ), Henderson, Downing, Lucas, Shelvey (Borini – 77′ ), Sturridge Substitutes: Jones, Jose Enrique, Coady, Jones, Assaidi, Borini, Suso

Att: 25,640

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Merseyblank!

Liverpool 0

Everton 0

Another 0-0 draw, our third in five games. No doubt Jamie Carragher, as a defender, would take some professional pride from the clean sheet however, as this was his last Merseyside Derby, he would have surely liked it to be a 4-3 humdinger (what red wouldn’t) which would see him nodding in the winner in the 90th minute!

As it is both clubs look to have settled into a league positions that sees them side by side in sixth and seventh places. These positions are perhaps symptomatic of the shift in the footballing “balance of power”. Above us, in the top two spaces, are the two Mancs clubs followed by a gaggle of London glitterati. Everton might take some satisfaction from finishing above us, for the second season running, but I doubt it. Surely that will be more interested in widening the net of ambition and qualifying for Europe, a major scalp we not these days? Everton have had a solid season pragmatic effective and finishing in the position that some might regard as an overachievement. Us? Improving, inconsistent, erratic, enigmatic and, after this game, as with many others this season, no plan B. Then add the burden of the yolk of history. Seventh???? About right or and underachievement – take your pick, time to get real?

This was a bland and scrappy game, it often happens in derby’s like this. Everton should perhaps should feel a tad miffed that Distin’s goal was disallowed because Anichebe had “impeded” Reina. Moyes might have a point and, even if he didn’t, he was determined, in post match interviews, to ensure that everyone knew that he felt he had one even resorting to dredging up the age old “playing at Anfield” cliché.

“If you don’t get any decisions at Anfield it makes it difficult to win.”

Moyes then extended this to complaining about Carragher chatting too much to the referee which is quiet frankly nothing do with him. He might moan about the Distin incident but Moyes appears to have conveniently forgotten that Luis Suarez’s perfectly decent goal at Goodson, earlier this season, was disallowed for “offside”. Two wrongs clearly don’t make a right but, if nothing else, Moyes is pragmatic, swings and roundabouts David? Perhaps he might have been more philosophical had he won at Anfield during his Everton career however it’s another blank, his last one?

For us although we improved in the second half, there wasn’t enough adaptability no diversification BR again showed that when he’s good he’s very good (Newcastle) but when others see through us and give us more of a challenge he has nothing of note to offer as an alternative? Shooting boots were left at St James Park and when Everton, who are a cut above Newcastle this season, found their rhythm we had no answers of note.

Overall it was a catalogue of missed opportunities, for both sides. Henderson went close but Distin blocked his shot from Sturridge’s cross. Fellaini, under immense pressure from Carragher, prodded Baines’ fee kick past our post by a distance that was too close for comfort with Reina stranded. Gerrard had a what could have been a decent effort blocked by Jagielka’s trailing foot.

In the second half we improved a bit. Sturridge after the excellent work from the increasingly excellent Coutinho, was forced too wide by Howard in the Everton goal to make his chance count and then in the some passage of play, the Brazilian fed him again only to see him hit the side netting. Sturridge shows great promise and gets goals however there is still a rashness about his play, an occasional lack of composure, a lack of an eye for the alternative, easier option to the ambitious attempt on goal? Sturridge however, redeemed himself by nicely playing in Gerrard who beat Howard but saw his effort cleared off the line by Distin.

Finally, as if it ever needed to be said, it was nice to see The Kop display, via a card mosaic, their thanks to Everton for their support over the recent Hillsborough developments. As ever some things transcend local spats and, for that matter, football?

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Agger, Carragher, Gerrard, Phillippe Coutinho, Henderson (Borini – 66′ Booked ), Downing (Skrtel – 79′ ), Lucas, Sturridge Substitutes: Jones, Coates, Skrtel, Shelvey, Assaidi, Borini, Suso

Everton: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Coleman, Gibson, Osman Booked, Pienaar, Fellaini, Mirallas, Jelavic – 75′ ), Anichebe Booked Substitutes: Mucha, Hibbert, Heitinga, Duffy, Oviedo, Jelavic, Naismith

Att: 44,991

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Bite marks still remain and derby day deliberations.

Oh to be a football fan. I was stopped by a Sunderland fan at work on Monday who basically thanked me for making his weekend.

Clearly he had failed to notice that it was not me that had made his weekend by sticking six past Newcastle but, what the hell, I’m happy to bask in the associated glory! However this must surely be, schadenfreude wise, be the quickest case of “what goes around comes around” as that evening Aston Villa “Liverpooled” his own team. Still I guess it was fun for him to be smug while it lasted.

The 6-0 clearly was a boost to the confidence for everyone concerned with the club. What made it more pleasing were the circumstances leading up to it. One could have almost forgive the team for not performing given all the “bite” coverage instead they appeared to rise to the occasion, strength in adversity and all that?

As I write the Suarez incident still refuses to go away. I guess it was going to be the way of things as soon as David Cameron, ever one to hypocritically jump of the moral bandwagon, saw fit to open his trap about the incident Later Five Live had some pseudo, trumped up warts and all analysis type documentary that attempted, very poorly, find out why Suarez does what he does as if he was some troubled footballing basket case hewn from the same rock as Cantona, Gascoigne and, if you leave out the being brilliant at football bit, Barton. It’s all absolute nonsense of course and now terribly boring. It’s as if this country can’t accept that foreigners can act and behave in a different way, does it even need to be a foreigner? Possibly so yet no one issues a peep let alone makes an entire radio programme if a player breaks a opponents legs or elbows him in the face. A little bite its a cue for a massive stampede, acres of newsprint, and generally tonnes of bullsh*t. My advice to Luis is next time you get narked? Just smash you elbow into the players face or break his shins it will be less hassle!

Back to today and a local Derby which has ever has a number of issues surrounding it. The media will no doubt make great play of this game being an opportunity for Everton to ensure that they finish ahead of us this season. It’s a lazy and patronising stance. I would suggest that this season Everton have had better, more important ambitions on their minds, ie Europe, than just finishing about us. Moreover it’s just a lazy angle to take. It’s a Liverpool derby so let’s assume that both teams are only concerned about beating each other as if all the other games we play and goals. that are open for us to achieve, don’t matter! I can only speak for myself but although today is always a great day and one where we want to beat Everton overall this year I’ve just been concerned about Liverpool playing better. Whatever Everton have been doing hasn’t really been an issue. If they finish above us his season then, chances are, it’s deserved. End of story.

The other issue is that this is likely to be Jamie Carragher’s last derby. Regardless of the above argument the local issue is poignant this time. Along with Steven Gerrard Carragher is probably be the only local lad playing in red today. Like Gerrard, Carragher is one man club a club from his birthplace. That is rare these days and sadly it might not be too much to say that it’s unlikely that we ever it’s like again. Carragher, along with Gerrard, will, even though we have nothing to play for, ensure that everyone is up for this. Who will do this job when these players retire and, even if they do, will they really have Stevie’s and Jamie’s appreciation of what it means to the fans?

Prediction? It’s been suggested that Everton, in an attempt to ensure that they finish above us, will go for it thus opening the game up which will play into our hands. I think David Moyes is cleverer than that and, besides, I really can’t be bothered to look at the game for this point of view. Suffice to say that if we replicate some of the play we showed at St James Park last week then we will be OK and surely, the light of that result, we will be full of confidence 2-0.

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A tonic for the troops and who is Luis Suarez?

Newcastle United 0

Liverpool 6
0-1 Agger (2), 0-2 Henderson (17), 0-3 Sturridge (54), 0-4 Sturridge (60), 0-5 Borini (74), 0-6 Henderson (76)

The obvious title would have been “the joy of six” or “six of the best”, or if we had scored seven “seventh heaven, or one more ”eighth wonder” however this seems apt given the week the club has gone through?

Even though he was putting his feet up the “ghost” of Luis Suarez threatened to haunt this game. Even though he’s accepted the FA’s punishment, and club has expressed a desire to move on, it was inevitable that the weekend’s press would dwell on the story and not just in the sports pages. However, those strikers in competition with Suarez for a first team birth had a commendable stab at exorcising it.

And so did the team with a relentless succession of precision, rifle shot, moves which unravelled an admittedly lame Newcastle defence. There was a cool efficiency in our demeanour that bought back memories of the side in it’s pomp when they travel away, saunter into the lions den and through nothing more that simple, sensible football. silenced the baying home hoards. Newcastle fans pride themselves on their loyalty however the rush for the exit after we put the game beyond reach belied this. On a point principle I have never ever left any game early and therefore can’t understand the these so called passionate fan’s reaction, even though it was their team’s worst home defeat since 1925.

For those of us how want to move on the rout provided reassurance to thoughts that when it comes to goals we weren’t just a one man show and would therefore miss him. BR for all his faults should also take, for once, deserved satisfaction from the performance. Three of his signings, Sturridge, Borini and Coutinho were instrumental the victory be it sticking the pill in the back of the net or, in the case of Coutinho just looking great on the ball and playing sublimely. BR still continues to confuse and exasperate and, occasionally, please in equal measure just when you think you’re forming an opinion on him his team produces something like this or, f*cks up bad style!

Re the game, if you had to narrow it down to one player other than Suarez I guess it was about Daniel Sturridge. There seem to have been hints from Anfield that there were one or two issues with him, having him sitting on the bench in some games suggests so? However given the role of main man on Saturday he rose to occasion and scoring two and, unselfishly, setting up one.

Our second goal said all that needed to be said about the man. He produced a lovely deft touch from Reina’s clearance to Coutinho before running on to receive the return ball. Sturridge was then in a position to score, and make a early point re his “post bite” role in the team, however unselfishly he fed Henderson, overlapping on the left, who couldn’t miss. Then when perhaps he could have put the side into more trouble, by reacting to Debuchy’s over the top reaction re a nothing incident, he kept a cool head. Prior to that, after only five minutes, after a couple of abortive attempts to penetrate the Newcastle defence, Agger easily sprung the offside trap to nod home. Downings’ cross.

Newcastle missed a chance to get back into it via Perch’s poor header. It was costly miss as we kicked on in the second half. Coutinho broke and, with the Newcastle defence back peddling in his wake, found Sturridge who crashed it into the roof of the net for a deserved third. Six minutes later Sturridge was at it again. Henderson, springing the off side trap via Gerrard’s ball and returned the complement Strurridge paid him for our second via square pass allowing an easy tap in, cue boos and Geordie exits.

The fifth and sixth were added bonuses? Borini on as sub and back from injury, secured the perfect return by prodding it home for his first league goal, after good work from Coutinho and Downing. By now the game should have been stopped to save Newcastle from further punishment especially after Debuchy was sent off after another hapless, clumsy attempt to shackle Coutinho. However, Henderson, as you would expect from an ex Sunderland man, piled it on as his “cross”, from the resulting free kick missed everyone save the back of the net.

The only disappointment was that Coutinho hit the crossbar, if anyone deserved a goal it was him however, given the overall score, it would churlish to complain!

Newcastle United: Elliot, Yanga-M’Biwa, Perch (Ben Arfa – 46′ ), Haidara, Debuchy Dismissed, S Taylor Booked, Cabaye, Sissoko, Gutierrez Booked (Gouffran – 46′ ), Tiote (Anita – 65′ ), Cisse Substitutes: Harper, Williamson, Anita, Ben Arfa, Gosling, Gouffran, Sh Ameobi

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson Booked, Jose Enrique, Agger, Carragher, Gerrard (Borini – 72′ ), Phillippe Coutinho (Suso – 84′ ), Henderson, Downing, Lucas, Sturridge Booked (Shelvey – 84′ ) Substitutes: Jones, Coates, Skrtel, Wisdom, Shelvey, Borini, Suso

Att: 52,351

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Suarez bites but those all around fail to make the catch oh and a bit about Newcastle.

It’s ironic that as Branislav Ivanovic was frolicking around a Swiss football field on Thursday night Luis Suarez was contemplating the repercussions of his “violent conduct” towards the Chelsea defender.

Had Ivanovic not been facing Basle and sitting at home watching James May’s Man Lab with his leg in traction perhaps we wouldn’t be getting all the tedious brouhaha that we’ve been subjected to over the few days unless of course Suarez had bitten it off!.

Suarez’s ten match is expected in the sense that FA can never be relied to arrive at a decision that has any obvious logic attached to it, particularly when applies to our club. What other institution would require Liverpool and Everton to travel down to Wembley for a Cup semi final that takes place on Saturday morning and then, next year, schedule a semi final involving Millwall (which, when I last looked, isn’t too far away from the Wembley) for late afternoon thus giving one of the most notorious sets of fans in the country plenty of time to get p*ssed up and well… you know the rest.

Despite this we should be careful of suggesting “witch hunts” against Liverpool. If Suarez wasn’t Suarez then we wouldn’t be having these debates? No one can seriously argue that Luis shouldn’t be banned however, what I do find puzzling is the logic behind the length of it.

Like the price of a pint or energy bills some FA offences randomly go up and down for no discernable reason? Suarez was banned last season for eight games for racial abuse however, he nicks Ivanovic’s arm and gets ten games! What is worse racial abuse or, as I said in the last piece, an overenthusiastic kiss! The excessiveness of ban is an ill thought out, populist, gut reaction to an “assault” that is unusual and therefore controversial but, at the end of the day, unlike say a two footed tackle on a players shins, not career threatening.

Perhaps some might argue that Suarez deserved ten games and that it is the FA’s attitude towards punishment for racial abuse that needs changing? There is a good reasoning for this when you widen the net to include other football authorities. In addition to his eight game ban last season Suarez was also fined £40k by the FA yet Nicolas Bendtner, during Euro 2012, was fined around £80k by UEFA for having advertising on his underwear and showing the logo (I think it was for a bookmaker) after he’d scored for Denmark?

Does this make sense? Perhaps it does to institutions like the FA or UEFA (money?) if it does then let’s hear it? Many will say that Suarez’s case deserves to fly in the face of this argument because of his past record which isn’t exactly exemplarily however, if that’s the case then fine, but let’s clarify the criteria, let’s see the rules, comprehensively well thought out, explained to everyone and laid down in black and white, so everyone knows where we are? Instead we seemingly get these arbitrary decisions and via different bodies, this one was decided by an independent committee, which only serves to perpetuate confusion and drag out debate – this doesn’t do anyone any favours?.

It is also a missed opportunity. I would have liked to see the FA exercise a degree of social responsibility. What harm would there be in saying that Suarez should be banned for say six games with four suspended on the condition that he gets help ie. attending cannibals anonymous or a anger management course! Liverpool have already said they will help Suarez, how about the FA recognising this initiative and reflecting the responsibility we have taken in their decision?

Which brings me the attitude of Liverpool FC. One should applaud the club for responding quickly to the incident however to state they were “shocked and disappointed” by the decision simply doesn’t help. “Shocked” is a word to describe far more serious and devastating than a few more games ban. “Shocked” is word you use to describe a sudden death or a natural disaster not a slightly longer ban than you expected. “Shocked” is an inappropriate word that misjudges the climate of opinion towards the incident, it will have attracted very little sympathy outside L4. Yesterday the club announced they wouldn’t contest the ban which is sensible, unless Luis wants to appeal sit back and ride it out, it just isn’t worth it?

As for Brendon Rogers. Well this man is fast becoming the sort of person who, every time he speaks, invokes an involuntary reaction in me which is to put my head in my hands! To describe Suarez’s punishment as being “against the man, rather than the incident.” just makes me sigh. The two (man and incident) are inextricably linked and of course the punishment is against “the man” Suarez has past form so does Rogers, even if he isn’t suggesting it’s a witch hunt, seriously believe the commission, righty or wrongly, wouldn’t take this into account? The black, black dark cynic in me says, if anything, Rogers should welcome the six game ban for next season for he has a ready made excuse to explain any bad start to the campaign! Sorry that’s out of order but I bet at school BR never got punished for not handing his homework in!

He then goes on to say.

“For us it is a case of supporting him. He is still very much part of our family and very much part of our future. He is very important for us going forward in order to succeed.”

Yes Brendon presumably that’s the same sort of support you offered Luis when he dived against Stoke which meant, because it suited your image personally, you publically hauled him over the coals for doing so!

Surely the best contribution BR can make to this whole overblown storm in a teacup is to try and start to deflect attention away from it with a result today against Newcastle today? Is anyone holding their breath?. 2-2 draw and no excuses please!.

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Biting Back!

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?

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