THERE is something about the first home game of the season, isn’t there?
The excitement builds from early on to get back into the ground, to see what’s changed in there. Have a lovely big count of how many extra sets of lights they have erected on the Main Stand to burn a whole in the back of your retina. To have a look for any new faces sitting by you and weigh up which one will burn your head out by mid October. To see all your season-ticket mates who you have known for years but haven’t got a clue what their names are, where they are from, or what their real lives are like. When you stop to think about it they could be anyone, couldn’t they?
You share this thing with them — this thing of ours — for a couple of hours every other week and then you go back to your life while they go home and possibly mutilate animals in their massive underground bunker. Not that I’m saying all of the people sat around me are weirdos or maniacs — they are actually sound on the whole — but, you know, if you sat next to Don Corleone every other week you would just think he was a quiet fella in a sharp suit and a big coat, wouldn’t you?
Anyway, I bounced into the Kemlyn on Saturday pretty made up to be back. You wouldn’t think my spirit could be crushed before the game had even kicked off, would you? It took a lovely cuddle of the ever-reliant Adam Melia of ‘The Rider and speaking loads of sense while secretly hating Fenway Sports Group’ fame to snap me back into action. Seriously, what is the matter with people? My first interaction in the ground consisted of a prolonged conversation with a fella about the innovative and frankly ground-breaking row and seat-numbering system they have implemented. It went a bit like this:
Mad row-seat fella: “What seat is that, mate?”
Me after looking at the seat: “That’s 217, that.”
Mad row-seat fella: “Is that my seat?”
Me after looking at him, for about a minute while I weighed up whether he had something wrong with him, you know, in his head: “Err, I don’t know mate.”
Mad row-seat fella: “Well mine is 217 so I think it is.”
Me, after looking at him for another minute, while I weighed up whether he had something wrong with him, you know, in his head: “There are a few 217’s you know, mate – what row are you?”
Mad row-seat fella, while he looked at me for about a minute and tried to weigh up whether I had something wrong with me, you know, in the head: “…”
Me, getting my buzz well and truly bludgeoned to death by the mad row-seat fella: “Where is your ticket, mate? See you are seat 217, on row four, lad. This is row 13.”
Mad row-seat fella while pointing at the seat on row 13: “… Is that my seat, then?”
Me: “Lad, you are on row four.”
Me: “Nine rows down there.”
Me: “Lad, just go down there.”
Me: “Fucking hell.”
After I excused myself from the row-seat lunatic, the match kicked off — which, frankly, was a relief all round. I thought The Reds started well enough in fairness against a side who were nice and compact and determined not to concede. What is clear, however, is that this team, is only greater than the sum of its parts when one or possible two attacking midfielders play in centre mid. The fluency, so prevalent at the start of last season, is missing in action with one major component on the couch with his thigh in a sling and the other in his house waiting for the phone to ring.
Billy Barca: “Hello Phil, it’s Billy Barca here. Yer we have got a boss little plan on the go now so don’t worry. So, yer know that bid the other day that they turned down before our fax machine had even stopped making a noise, yer well what we are going to do is bell them back in a bit and tell them they have got till 7pm on Sunday to reconsider it.”
Phil Coutinho, looking at the phone trying to weigh up if Billy Barca has got something wrong, you know, in his head: “…”
As negotiating tactics go this is up there with the best of them, isn’t it? It is so poor that I am starting to worry that there must be more to it. Maybe the wording of it was a bit more of a threat. Not so much a chance to reconsider, more a threat of what will happen if you don’t. My guess is that the mad-row seat fella was just a scout, sent to see how we would react. The first stage of the threat was sell us Coutinho or we will release thousands of these fellas into your ground every game, so that no one will be able to sit down because the mad-row seat army will be kettling everyone’s heads until it gets so bad that you have to play behind closed doors and eventually fold.
Or, alternatively, they have given Coutinho a Charlie Adam potion with strict instructions for him to neck it at 7.01pm on Sunday night if we haven’t agreed the deal. Unbeknown to The Reds they have set up a live stream in his house which they will beam into The Reds management offices at 6pm. Cut to six bells in Liverpool Towers:
“Attention all Liverpool people, please listen carefully. On your screens you will see Phil Coutinho sat in his house with a bottle of our patented Charlie Adam potion. You will also see ex-Barca great Rivaldo, who took his potion at 5.59pm. As you can see, he has aged 15 years in six minutes, has had six teeth removed and replaced with heavily-indented nails and has put on a stone a minute due to an excessive fried egg-consumption ratio. Please release Phil from your clammy grasp and accept receipt of payment by 7pm or we won’t be held responsible for our actions.”
Hopefully, The Reds were able to get to his house in time and get the anti venom down his neck. Either way, the end of the window can’t come soon enough. That midfield is going to run out its relatively stodgy legs pretty quickly and without reinforcements and a returning Coutinho we might be in for a bit of a long season. Let’s commit wholeheartedly to making a show of this little ming of a Hoffenheim manager and bounce into the Arsenal game with a spring in our step.
Up the Chad Adam potion Reds. What seat is that, mate? Do you want a fried egg? I’ve got a spare in my pocket, here.
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