By David Segar
I’VE written this a day later than I intended to because this is the first time I’ve been able to finally admit to myself that it actually happened. This Liverpool team, Brendan’s glorious bastards, it lost, actually lost, to THAT Chelsea. Eleven wins in a row, halted by Chelsea Anti-Football Club (I’m not bitter, I’m really not).
I went to the gym immediately after the game to try and sweat out the result (that didn’t work), I listened to some loud music (that didn’t work), and of course considered drink, but that would have been too obvious. That’s what Jose would have wanted, and then when my guard was down he’d have come round my house and put padlocks on all my cupboard doors, then shit on my pillow for good measure.
No, instead I ate an entire dark chocolate Easter egg and watched eight episodes of Alan Partridge, and while that helped a bit (cashback), I soon remembered why I’d been trying to escape reality. My mixture of despair and Partridge almost led to me driving to Dundee in my bare feet with only a glove box full of medium-sized Toblerones to keep me company.
A full day of work where I sulked like a six-year old who’s been told he can’t go out and play British Bulldog (kids still play that right?), a few attempts at a false smile, but there was nothing inside but hollow darkness, much like the egg I consumed the previous evening. Just to add to the ever increasing dark cloud of morosity, the trains home were knackered. Almost instinctively, I blamed Jose Mourinho.
Now, I like to think I’m a man who will stand up and admit when he’s wrong, as I frequently am. Some might argue that I ended up being a bit wrong when I tweeted last Tuesday night that ‘Chelsea will have to alter their game plan drastically for Sunday because playing ‘that’ way, Liverpool will rip them apart.’ So Chelsea came to Anfield, played ‘that’ way, exactly the same way as they had done against Atletico Madrid, and it worked pretty much in every conceivable way you could have imagined. Time waste, foul, argue, DEFEND, time waste again, then wait for an error to score a goal in both sets of injury time, injury time that only existed because of their own time-wasting. That is the arrogance of Mourinho’s Chelsea. Create injury time, then score in it.
How did this happen? That wasn’t supposed to happen. It was all set for something else. You could see it at the start of the game just by looking at the two managers. Brendan Rodgers stood with his shoulders practically grazing the clouds, suit, tie, shiny shoes, while Mourinho stood shoulders slumped in petulance, trackie and a gillet with old trainers. Rodgers there with his hair combed and his face clean shaven, Mourinho with his hair skew-whiff and stubble. Not designer stubble either. I thought someone was going to put a blanket over him and invite him in for soup.
The difference in appearance wasn’t just limited to the managers. Their teams played the way their leaders presented. Liverpool were the style and the grace against a Chelsea who were the rugged, uncouth and probably foul-smelling opposition.
Okay I’ll rein in the bitterness a tad. We certainly could have played better and Chelsea executed a rather simple game plan as effectively as they could have wished. They got the three points and congratulations to them. I sincerely hope I never see Liverpool play that way (no Benitez comparisons please because you’re simply wrong before the argument begins), but Chelsea and Mourinho won in exactly the way they’d envisioned before the match.
However, what particularly got my goat was that Liverpool clearly wore the white hat and Chelsea the black. Jose Mourinho has cast himself in the role as the bad guy ever since he arrived in England, so how come the bad guy was getting the girl, finding the treasure and driving away from the hero’s corpse in a stolen Ferrari? Okay Chelsea probably aren’t going to win the league, but they did their best to take us down with them.
Have we been too spoiled by fairytales and cinema that, more often than not, the bad guy does come out on top because, let’s face it, he always has more resources. The odds are always stacked against our hero, but he overcomes them in the end… doesn’t he?
What immediately shot into my head was the ending of Se7en. Jose Mourinho told Brendan Rodgers to look in the box, and he saw Steven Gerrard’s head. This was Saw, this was No Country for Old Men, this was doing my bloody head in (no Gwyneth Paltrow pun intended).
The slip, oh the slip. For Stevie to make the mistake, it could have been Sakho or Skrtel, or even Flanno “he’s young, he’ll bounce back”, but for it to be Stevie. Even Frank Lampard was saying Stevie deserves the title. What he certainly didn’t deserve was for that to happen. Dr Steve Peters will be earning his money this week and then some.
But hold on, this film isn’t over yet. Some would argue that Gerrard’s slip was almost so unlikely and tragic that it was fate intervening, but then what was Fulham? What was holding on against Sunderland when the others didn’t? What was everything the City game was? What was going to Norwich and beating them the one week they decided to fight? What was spanking United 3-0 at… okay that one was pretty standard, but the others could surely only happen for a reason? A big silvery shiny crown-wearing nineteenth reason.
We’re now in a position where we’re relying on Everton, Villa or West Ham to get something off City, there it is. That’s the hand we’re now dealt. So what? Title races are mad, and this one has already been sectioned twice. In fact we’re the only ones in the race who have dropped points in a particularly sensible game in recent weeks. Remember, Everton not losing to City is far from a mad result.
You’ve all seen films. The good guy doesn’t win fourteen games in a row and lift the title/woman at the end. There are obstacles thrown in his way, especially just before the climax when the evil Portuguese villain puts him in an almost insurmountable looking position, up against sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads. But he triumphs in the end. The credits are ages away yet, there’s life in this story.
What was it Kenneth Wolstenholme said? “They think it’s all over! Fuck off! There’s ages left yet!” or something to that effect.
Going Again, from the makers of Raging Istanbul, has been nominated for one award. Will it have a happy ending? It has to, doesn’t it?
Pics: Propaganda / David Rawclifee