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IT’S been almost a week now. I’ve had a lot on in the interim; places to go, people to see, university exams to study for — that I’ve not actually been doing much studying for. There’s even been another round of football matches in between.

But I still feel like I might vomit when I remember that Manchester United equaliser on Sunday.

Yes, a point is an acceptable result in the context of the season as a whole. Yes, we’ve conceded three on our last two visits there. And yes, that ‘display’ of banners they had in their little singing section before kick-off was hilariously abysmal. But when I think of the way the ball hung in the air for what felt like hours, the shudder in my spine that paralysed my body as Zlatan Ibrahimović peeled away, and the roar that greeted the inevitable rippling of the net, I feel a wave of resignation wash over me that no amount of league table looking or ‘in the grand scheme of things’ talk will take away.

It’s a good job we had such a blatant non-event of a match against Plymouth Argyle to follow it up, one that held arguably the least prestige of any football game Liverpool FC has ever played, allowing me to pay absolutely no attention to it whatsoever. It was on in the pub, like, but it would have been very difficult for me to have cared any less. I gather that Lucas Leiva scored the winner, meaning we ruined their child-killing goalkeeper’s evening, which is nice.

Let’s just batter Swansea on Saturday, so the worries fade away and the carefree thrill of going the match comes back again.

Marco Mad Bastard

I’ve never been to Amsterdam, but from what I know, they’ve got Anne Frank, canals, and the Heineken factory. And I think Marco van Basten might have over-indulged on a visit to said Heineken factory this week, because his ideas for reformation in football are absolutely batshit mental.

In his new role as technical director at FIFA, the former Netherlands striker and manager has outlined proposals to alter the sport itself, which include the following:

  • Abolition of the offside rule
  • Reduction in the number of matches individual players are permitted to play
  • Orange cards which designate a ten-minute ‘sin bin’ for a player
  • Replacement of penalty shoot-outs with eight-second run-ups

I was going to go through each of these one-by-one to highlight their foibles, but they’re just so evidently crap that I don’t feel I need to. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Any combination of these concepts, or even one on their own, would make the game of football worse than it is right now. I have absolutely no time for throwing shit gimmicks at a game which is not broken.

Van Basten’s only real argument in favour of the proposals is that they would lead to “more goals.” The only people who want matches finishing 8-3 all the time are young children and people who don’t like the game, anyway. It’s not fucking basketball, Marco lad.

It’s a real shame that these ideas are so relentlessly dog shit, because some of the other things he’s spoken of this week are worth noting. He discussed the need to not allow money to rule football, deploring the immediate path to success found by new-moneyed clubs like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, and suggested that means must be found to encourage closer competition between clubs of varying financial statuses.

If he had stopped there I’d be fully on board. It’s a bit like David Icke. I’m right there with him when he’s talking about the perennially powerful manipulating systems of rule to satisfy their own desires, but then he starts banging about the reptilian overlords performing human sacrifice rituals and the moon being a hologram, and I’m like, “Y’know what Davey, you’ve just lost me there, mate.”

Anyway, the point is Marco van Basten’s ideas are crap and that famous volley should be struck from the record in retaliation.

Dean Struck Down In His Prime

There are many things wrong with this country as we take our first tentative steps into the year of our Lord 2017. The first is the political and economic uncertainty created by Theresa May’s Brexit speech, which in essence amounted to her telling the European Union, “We still want your money but all of your people can fuck right off, m8.” There’s also the ever-increasing sense of fundamental division within society, and the propulsion towards isolationism which risks undoing many generations’ worth of forward steps.

But by the far most reprehensible facet of the United Kingdom today is the contempt with which this nation is treating superstar referee Mike ‘the Dean’ Dean.

His ‘errors’ (which I think you’ll find are deliberate choices made for the good of the spectacle) in matches at Goodison Park and the London Stadium, have seen him criticised by supporters and pundits alike, with Gary Lineker commenting that he “does seem to like a little attention.” This from a man who spends his life winding up strangers on the internet and flogging crisps on the telly all the fucking time.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of narcissism, I’d say, and Dean is the master. They say you don’t notice a good referee in a game of football, because they go under the radar. But what if the referee IS the game of football? I tuned into Spurs v Aston Villa in the FA Cup the other week, purely because my mate Mike was reffing it. Primetime Dean. BBC One. The stuff dreams are made of.

Deanie has been one of very view bright spots this hellscape-nation and its inhabitants have been able to enjoy over the past few months, and now he too is being cruelly snatched away from us by the ‘elites’, who simply do not understand the tribulations of the common man. The gloom of the past few months has often been lifted by his wild, aggressive gesticulating, his trademark nonchalant eye-rolls, and his unbridled commitment to showmanship.

But let me be clear here: you can try and knock him down but Mike Dean will get back up again. And again. Forever. His arms will never be lowered. His eye-movements will never be subdued. His whistle will never be plugged.

This is not the end of Mike Dean. It might be just the beginning.

You’ve Not Got Payet

Slaven Bilic lays in his four-poster bed in his central London apartment, with his knees tucked into his chest, tear-sodden tissue in hand as the final credits of The Notebook roll down the television screen. He sniffles softly and whimpers, like a dog in an RSPCA kennel, thinking about the good old days him and ‘Dimi’ had.

His phone buzzes. It’s Winston Reid, “U ok hun? Xx”

“No doll, can’t sleep Xx.”

“Forget about him, Slav. I told you he wasn’t good enough for you anyway. He’s a rat Xx.”

Bilic exits WhatsApp, loads up Spotify, and his eyes fill with the most painful of tears as he murmurs along to the chorus of the song which speaks for his soul at this moment in time.

“Goodbye my lover… goodbye my friend… you have been the one… you have been the one for me…”

I would have thought West Ham, being the most UKIP club in the land, what with their patriotic ‘London Stadium’ and Union fucking Jack on their kit, would be absolutely delighted at ‘one them fackin’ forruns’ going back home where they came from and leaving a space in the squad for a good British boy to come through, but not so. Apparently foreigners are absolutely fine so long as they’re rich and good at free-kicks.

New Juventus Logo A No Go

Juventus, a team with one of the most instantly recognisable crests and branding of any football club on the planet, have unveiled a new minimalist official logo, and my word, the absolute kip of it.

There’s a tendency among football supporters to be dismissive of any change that relies mainly on business evolution, but for the most part this is a modern necessity which allows clubs to continue to compete at the highest level. When done right, naming rights deals, commercial partnerships, and even badge alterations can increase income and global profile while not disrespecting the legacy of the club and its supporters. Think United’s constant sponsorship deals, as opposed to tyrannical demagogues taking a wrecking ball to a club’s identity, like when big Vinny Tan changed Cardiff City’s colours to red because it’s supposedly a ‘lucky’ colour in Asia.

But when your new badge looks like something a panicked market-trader knocked up in five minutes in week two of The Apprentice because the project manager wouldn’t answer his phone calls, then you’ve probably gone wrong somewhere.

I mean, it’s proper Pro Evo 3 Master League gear this, isn’t it? At this point Juventus have gone full Konami, and may as well change their name to North Italy Black Stripes or something and start spelling their players’ names wrong on the kit.

The club’s owner Andrea Agnelli said the new crest is “a symbol of the Juventus way of living.” The Juventus way of living apparently being to decide to design a new badge but going on the ale all afternoon yourself and leaving the responsibility in the hands of the work-experience kid with a rudimentary knowledge of using Microsoft Paint.

I mean, what even is it? I hope you’ve figured it yourself because I’m fucked if I know. Is it two J’s next to each other, even though ‘Juventus’ contains only one J? Is it one J reclining against a J-shaped hammock of some sort? Or is it just plain nonsensical shite?

Anyway, following this example I’ve had a go at coming up with a new Liverpool badge. Here it is, I hope you like it:

L

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