SO then, the Reds are back, not quite with a bang, but with the air of a team capable of producing many a bang on their day. Even in a relatively uneventful 0-0, Liverpool showed enough to prove they’re probably the most difficult team in the country to come up against at the moment, and that the title challenge remains eminently in motion.

And, oh boy, am I looking forward to this weekend. By hook or by crook Davey Moyes has clung on for dear life to his job at Sunderland, and WILL be in charge as his side come to Anfield on Saturday afternoon. What a gift. What a blessing. Just after the first disappointing result in months, we all get to go the match on Saturday, remember the good times he’s given us over the years, and watch the Reds make his life an absolute misery for about the 100th time in his career.

I’m not saying it’s definitely going to happen, but in my mind, there is a legitimate chance, albeit a small one, that Liverpool could put 10 past the Black Cats. If Watford were beaten for six, and had only their mutant of a goalkeeper to thank for it not being more, then this has the potential to be an event of unholy proportions. Be aware, people may well ask where you were when Liverpool scored double figures against Sunderland, putting it in the same bracket as when J.F.K was shot and 9/11 (still freaks my nut out to this day).

It’s gonna be great (I apologise for jinxing us and being the root cause of the inevitable 1-1 draw).

Stupendous Stevi:

Now, if you’re somehow unaware, or are a first-time visitor to The Anfield Wrap website (apologies if so, it’s not all this weird, some of it is actually about football and not masturbation/farting, that’s just this column…promise), then you should have seen by now that we won the award for Best Podcast at this year’s Football Blogging Awards in Manchester.

The event took place in Old Trafford and a great time was had by all — there was a bucket full of free ale at our table on arrival, a goodie bag which contained some jarg footy stickers and a mini SoccerStarz figurine of Napoli reserve player Christian Maggio (which deffo didn’t get emptied, binned and filled with lager for the mini-bus home), and an incredibly irritable host called ‘Smug’ Roberts who looked and sounded like some arl feller the organisers had dragged in from the boozer opposite.

But the highlight of the evening, ladies and gentleman, even beating Neil’s anti-Sun speech and the comically oversized suits some of the young football virgins bloggers had borrowed off their Dads/deceased uncles, was when Stevi Ritchie delivered the most rousing rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone I’ve ever had the pleasure to be a part of.

Watch that video. Bask in its ambiance. Feel the strength of Stevi’s powerful voice take over you as he reaches his crescendo. Now, I know the Gerry Marsden version is alright, but if we could have Stevi’s take on the club’s anthem professionally recorded and played by George prior to kick-off at every home match in future, I truly believe that we would win every game of football ever played from that moment on.

For the uninitiated, Stevi is just some head-the-ball who was the joke act on X Factor a few years ago. Quite why the organisers booked him for this I don’t know, but I suspect it only required a payment covering his petrol money and the free meat pie and veg everyone was given beforehand. That cream suit is absolute power, though, isn’t it?

There were whispers beforehand that he might be performing it (Gibbo said he’d told him in the bogs, but that couldn’t sound more like a pisstake if he tried), but the amount of sideways glances and dropping jaws as he hit that first note was simply ludicrous. Heads (as well as them oddballs off United Stand) vacated the building.

In the pantheon of the all-time great renditions of You’ll Never Walk Alone, here are your top 3:

3. Pre-kick off v Borussia Dortmund, Anfield, 2016
2. Half-time v AC Milan, Istanbul, 2005
1. Stevi Ritchie (ft. The Anfield Wrap & Stan Collymore), The FBAs, Old Trafford, 2016

Major League Soccer? Major-Ly Shite, More Like:

If ever proof was needed that North Americans will never properly understand football, this is it.

Yes, the MLS Eastern Conference final between the Montreal Impact (expect to have yourself taken seriously with a name like that?) and Toronto FC (that’s more like it) was delayed by almost an hour last night because the home side’s groundsman had painted the penalty area two yards too small.

Now, I’ve never been in a position to hire a groundsman; my student loan is nowhere near enough for me to buy a controlling stake in a professional football club, and our back garden is barely big enough to do keepy-ups in. But I’m pretty sure that knowing the dimensions of a football pitch is a pretty crucial part of the job application. It’s the first thing I’d ask, certainly. None of this, “Where do you see yourself in five years” bollocks, I’m saying, “Listen, mate. Do you know how big footy pitches and their component parts are supposed to be? Because if so, you start tomorrow.”

When the match finally got underway, Montreal took an early lead and ran out 3-2 winners in the end. And, just for good measure, Toronto’s two consolation goals were scored by Michael Bradley and fucking Jozy Altidore, that feller who played for Hull and Sunderland for a few years with worse movement than a fucking Metapod.

Stop the MLS right now. It is beyond saving.

Serbian Stupidity:

Many, many terrible things have happened in the state of Serbia over the years. Firstly, you’ve got the genocide of ethnic Albanians in the province (now country) of Kosovo in the late ‘90s by ruthless dictator Slobodan Milosevic, who was later tried for war crimes. Secondly there’s the 2010 anti-gay riot, were thousands of right-wing gobshite extremists flooded the streets of Belgrade and violently attacked civilians in order to protest a gay pride march.

But this miss in a fourth division match might just be the worst.

I don’t really know where to start, to be honest. So much goes wrong here in such a short space of time. First of all, that is the most Eastern Bloc-looking football pitch I have ever seen. The corrugated iron-roofed house in the background, the grey concrete fence behind the net covered in cyrillic alphabet graffiti, the way all the colours seem to be drained and vapid — it all looks like one of the online multiplayer maps off Call of Duty 4.

Before we even get to the miss, note the absolute state of the back-pass and the kip of the goalkeeper’s attempt to control the ball. Disgusting. Quite how three equally dogshit players have managed to partake in the same match, meeting within a two-yard of radius of each other as they are here, is simply staggering. I’d have told you it was scientifically impossible before I saw this video.

And then, well, there you have it. The worst miss any of us will likely ever see. It’s actually fairly impressive that he manages to generate enough height to hit it over from such a short distance to the net; it must be only two yards away by the time he strikes it. Clock the nonchalant way he jogs back after only a second’s worth of shock, too. He’s barely arsed. I’d be drinking a pint of bleach before the goal-kick was taken.

The disbelief on the face of the number nine (who looks suspiciously like Rickie Lambert side-on, maybe he’s finally found his level) at the end is absolutely magic.

I have a theory that all left-footed players are no-good bottlers, based mainly on that John Arne Riise header against Chelsea, and this feller is doing everything in his power to help the cause.

Cheers, mate.

Ronaldo Gets Stiff:

Hahaha. What a fucking man.

If you’re unaware of the Mannequin Challenge, its basics are as follows: groups of footballers/minor celebrities/sad-acts with far too much fucking time on their hands, stand perfectly still for a couple of minutes while someone with a very steady hand films the scene. Kind of like the Ice Bucket Challenge from 2014 but without the promotion and money raising for victims of a debilitating disease, and with even more unabridged vanity.

And that’s why this is so great; Ronaldo is fully aware that every person on the planet knows he tugs himself off while looking in the mirror, but he just wants to embrace it. The first five seconds or so are mundanely familiar, you’re sat there going, “Oh for Christ’s sake, not another one of these again,” on the cusp of scrolling further down twitter. But then it happens. The camera cuts to one of the most talented footballers of all time, standing in a superman pose, wearing nothing but an eye-wateringly tight pair of white ball-stranglers, with a beaming grin on his face like the cat that got the cream and also got a blowjob not long afterwards.

Now, it’s true that this is just another ridiculous demonstration of the man’s arrogance, but fuck me, if I looked like that I would never wear clothes anywhere. You’d see me in the bakery section of the Asda flexing my biceps. You’d see me on the karaoke in Woody’s making my pecs dance. You’d see me outside Lime Street offering to bench press passing strangers. I’d probably not even bother with any underwear, you know.

One of these days we’re gonna have a week where this column does not contain some sort of male-centric eroticism. Honest.

Come back next week to see if we manage it.

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