THERE’S a phrase going round at the minute about good teams having seven or eight people to carry a piano and three or four to play it.
I struggle with this for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, I bought a piano about two years ago and arranged for it to be delivered to our house.
Two fellas turned up and got it into the back room without the slightest trouble. Granted, they had a boss little roller thing that was a bit like a skateboard but, still, two is a bit less than eight.
I’m also fairly sure that eight people would get in each other’s way, with at least a couple ending up trapped against the wall once it was in its final position, seeing out their days wondering why no-one has noticed that they are missing.
Secondly, I reckon it is well harder to play the piano as a threesome than it is on your own. How would you decide who plays what note? Would you do it in zones? One on the pedals and two on the keys? Fuck knows.
I think we can all agree with the sentiment of the phrase though. Having at least one fella with fingers like Elton John is better than 11 club hands knocking shite out of middle C and telling everyone unfortunate enough to be within hearing range that Imagine is their favourite song while they plonk the first few bars over and over before getting to the tricky bit and pretending they are only stopping to talk about how profound the lyrics are.
Yesterday felt like the first league game that Dan Sturridge has started for years, probably since Brenno Rodgers was sporting the black shirt-and-tie combo and splitting opinions like nobody’s business by being shite and great in equal measure and looking a little bit like a cartoon shark.
It was also the first time in a long time that Kloppo has been able to get three fellas who can read music on to the pitch at the same time. What a difference it made. Being boss in the final third is great, isn’t it?
Sturridge has the ability to make everyone around him look much better (aside from the other team, who he makes look much worse). He is a superstar, no doubt about it — one of the best in the world. He is Prince for fuck’s sake and he knows it.
Combine him with Phil Coutinho and his flashes of brilliance and that is the difference between an ineffective side and a really good one. That is what has been missing the last few months. Small margins, fine details, call them what you want.
It has been really easy to forget who we have been missing and underestimate the impact that this must have had on the team. It has been dead easy to slag those on the pitch, blaming them for having no threat — seems harsh now doesn’t it, in the cold light of day?
I made notes while I was watching the match to give me something to write about here and also because Sean Rogers does it and I thought it would be cool to copy him. I was trying to remember what I had written about the start of the game but couldn’t and before I checked I was convinced it was positive. Here are my notes in full up to the point we score:
Slow tempo, no urgency, movement poor, Coutinho chewing it — 12 minutes
Coutinho poor — 14 minutes
Wriggly arms are boss — 16 minutes
I was calling Coutinho for everything, under my breath in the house but still goals change games, change moods, change perspectives.
The first-half performance was the same as 10 others this year, except we scored two goals and didn’t concede. That we had the three most dangerous players on the pitch gave us an assurance missing for most of the season that we could score again if needed. The impact of having piano players on the pitch is that the carriers get a bit of a rest, get to relax, have a ciggy and concentrate on their own job.
The second half was lovely to watch — a rare moment of relaxation while watching the Reds, safe in the knowledge that we were going to win.
Divock Origi came on and it felt a bit like we were being spoiled by all these players who can play and run and score. Some fella tried to neck him and Big Divock probably regretted jumping in the fans when he realised that his face would smell of Stella and lemo for the rest of the match.
As Martin ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald said in his boss match report, all of this has to be held against the fact that Aston Villa are shite. They were hopeless or, in other words, beyond hope.
As Carra said after the match, not one of their players would get in any other Premier League team right now. That takes some doing in fairness — their recruitment team should be applauded.
The Reds started to take the piss a bit by deciding to score from a corner for the first time in 150 attempts without really even trying. Kolo elected to stand still and let the ball hit the top of his head with the gait of a man who thought he was going to get run over by a bus and then celebrated by going for a bit of a jog and a lie down.
It all seemed a bit much really and the lack of fairness must have gotten to Kloppo who decided to try to even it up by sending on big Chris Benteke to take the sting out of it and level the playing field. What a gentleman.
A good performance but not a great one. Seems mad that, doesn’t it?
For once we got a bit more than what we deserved, the consequence of being ruthless, I suppose. A couple of European games, a cup final on the horizon and a load of our piano players back in the squad. I don’t know about you but I’ll sing to that, mates.