WHAT a game. What a game of utterly mad, breathless, end to end, 100 mile an hour, toss of a coin, oh fuck it toss it again football that was.
You often hear the phrase ‘that was a real advertisement for the Premier League’ getting lashed about all over the show and I guess on this occasion it really was.
I mean, imagine you are Don Draper, Richard Scudamore comes knocking on your door, giving it the big one, the account men are all over him, taking him here there and everywhere on the ale, promising him the world, trying to get the commission, what are you going to pitch? A game like that, between two of the best teams in the league, played at that speed, with that skill level, with two of the most innovative and best managers in world football, or a moody black and white number, featuring close-ups of Sam Allardyce and the Watford fella, slugging out a 1-0 where the most interesting thing that happens is Allardyce finding an extra piece of Wrigglies in his pocket without its wrapper. Cut to Don — ciggy in mouth, hands in pockets — in front of a massive still of Allardyce on the touchline: “The English Premiership – Sport, with added Jowls.”
Yeah fair enough, that is a well better advert if we are honest with ourselves. He’s fucking good Don, like. They don’t pay him the big bucks for nothing.
Every now and again I take writing this thing seriously and make notes while I’m watching the game. It’s usually on the few occasions when I don’t go the match or go out to watch it. It’s a means of getting through it – sat huddled, nervous and utterly helpless on the couch in ours. There is something about watching the match at home that makes it a truly, excruciatingly nerve-wracking experience, one where my head goes time and again. The difference being that if you are with your mates in the boozer you can talk each other through it and have a laugh and if you are in the ground you can shout and sing and are completely convinced that you can influence the result. In the house, I am a caged animal, listening to doubting Thomas on the commentary, sat with my pen and pad making notes to try and make sense of it, while pacing round the living room, like a Tiger in the zoo.
I’ve read my notes and they are clearly mental; a mix between tactical observations, outrageous obscenities, mundane nonsense and numerous attempts at pretty poor humour. A neat summary of my input on The Anfield Wrap, if you will. The first thing listed is an analysis of the state of Pep Guardiola’s collar on his coat. For a tactical genius he made a blunder of extreme proportions there choosing that frigging coat in that frigging rain. It had a massive, glorified collar, practically a funnel, harnessing the water with a catchment area the size of North Wales. Unless he was storing the water in his pockets or his kecks were acting as a makeshift fish tank, it made little to no sense. He was a squall away from waterboarding himself, the dopey prick.
Then we have got Simon Mignolet, on 12 minutes, talking to his defence after the Reds have conceded a corner.
“Come on, eh. Organise.”
While getting a hundred Scouse points for the use of “eh”, reminding your team-mates of their need to organise themselves before the corner is taken surely doesn’t count as proactively organising and bossing your defence about. More a polite request, a shifting of responsibility, communicating for communication’s sake. I noted it down because I thought it was funny but wasn’t sure it was that relevant. Then on 54 minutes big Si the Mig man said this:
“Organise. Defend the corner.”
I think this squad lacks a real spine of leadership on the pitch; stand-out organisers when the going gets a little bit moody to grab people and get them through the next 10 minutes. It seems like Si has put himself forward for the role here, just in an extremely literal, music off Homes Under The Hammer, kind of way. You can’t get fairer than “defend the corner”, can you? No mention of how to do it, just a straightforward statement of what is expected. Next time, Si, once they have defended the corner why not ask them to shoot the ball into the net as well? Boss.
I thought the Reds were excellent, by the way; excellent in the way we got ourselves into the game after Manchester City’s start and excellent to dominate the middle section of the game. The only frustration was our inability to kill the game when City were absolutely punched out for the 20-minute spell after half-time. It was the same against Manchester United at Old Trafford the other week; winning 1-0, playing on the break we had countless opportunities to put the game to bed and didn’t. City were absolutely there for the taking, led by Yaya Toure who looked like he had had two roast dinners at half-time. Not just normal roast dinners, but big massive, Crimbo dinner specials, where you can’t even lie down on the couch because you are that full. We needed to score the second and couldn’t and then got had off by a great ball and a little tiny bit of poor defending. As Ragnar Klavan turns to check where Sergio Aguero is, the striker is busy moving into the big mad corridor of absolute certainty in front of him. Small margins, but a mistake nonetheless.
It was a shame but it is what it is. You can’t complain about the Reds in these big games at all. They are absolutely the best in the league at them. What we need is a stronger squad, with better options to be able to consistently beat shite. Speaking of which, the blue variety are up next thinking they are boss with their new box-fresh Lonsdales and there soon to be submerged by global warming stadium before it is even a twinkle in big fat Joe’s eye.
What’s that Si, you want to say something about the derby?
“Come on, eh. These scruffs will beat themselves. Just shoot the ball into the net, boys.”
You can’t say fairer than that, can you?