Free Friday: “So Excited We Can Barely Sit Still or Hold a Thought In Our Heads”

Free Friday: “So Excited We Can Barely Sit Still or Hold a Thought In Our Heads”
May 25, 2018 Daniel Rhodes
In Free, Free Friday

This week’s posts selected by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.

The idea of this round-up is to give you all some idea of the range of debate on the site. If you’d like to be part of our troll-free community, there’s a ‘Subscribe’ tab at the very bottom of the page. 

1 – Mobykidz’s thoughts ahead of the CL final:

I was in a waiting room earlier and picked up today’s Times and read Henry Winter’s dissection of Man Utd. It reminded me that irrespective of analysis finals don’t always follow trends or statistics even if Mourinho v Conte was always going to be a drab affair. I think Saturday will be about how individuals and teams perform on the day against the pressure and intensity of these games. So I wanted to say something about Real Madrid’s motivations first and then circle back to us.

Whilst our CL form has been exceptional, based on our spend, facing a Real Madrid side who “turn up” for finals is daunting.  This team of aging Galacticos or more accurately “Next Season’s Expendables”, are an excellent team.  Its just that excellence is fast dissipating but not quickly enough. So what makes up Madrid’s huge expectations?

When Liverpool play we do so usually with the weight of footballing expectations. I sense Real Madrid have far more to consider, fighting proxy political and social battles, that suggests its not just us they are looking to defeat on Saturday but their Catalan enemies. That long term social, cultural and political battle means Real Madrid will never be short of desire, support and finance. It is a club that will never sink under the weight of its own expectations because their rivalry with Barcelona is so multi faceted it can’t afford to.

There are some loose similarities looking at the cultural differences between Madrid and Barcelona (social, political and footballing) that can only be mirrored by Liverpool’s relationship with say the “elite” in London.  But that tension is not provoked on the pitch (recently) as much as it is by Madrid.

Winning another successive CL is a political and footballing triumph over the Catalans.  Even though its another CL final there’s no fatigue within the Real Madrid fraternity to win again having finished behind Barcelona in La Liga. My point is this club is not short of motivation to perform in the final for footballing and political reasons. I suspect Real players are reminded as such by the club’s hierarchy and its fans.  Its weaved into the fabric and finances of this club. Sam Wallace’s extract above on Madrid’s finances is a “too big to fail” type of warning.  But the political implications would be too hard for nationalists in Spain to stomach so that safety net will always be there.

This season I have read Paul, Chris, Jeff and others highlight the weaknesses of these glacial galacticos with some brilliant and detailed analysis.  If this wasn’t the final I would look at the Spurs game at Wembley as a barometer for setting this game up. But in the final my gut tells me Madrid will turn up. They’ll turn up with the mind set of having something to prove to their perennial critics and enemies.  Maybe that’s why BBC Salford ran the idiotic graphic valuing our squad far higher than Madrid’s based on “current” transfer values to downplay the reality Paul highlighted above. We’re the underdogs not them.

So Madrid have points to prove both on and off the pitch and they know how to play finals. But that is where it gets difficult for them. We are playing with confidence. Firmino is the absolute disruptor. Mane is unpredictable. Salah is predictable in his quality. All three will hurt Madrid.  The next bank of three will push harder than they have all season. If we thought the press versus Man City and Roma in those Anfield legs were eye popping then this Saturday it will go to another level. VvD leading the line and our two young full backs putting their best foot forward. And as it seems now likely Liverpool fans will outnumber Madrid maybe by 2:1.  That Anfield roar will be present in Kyiv.

So I hope we find our rhythm and focus quickly. Xabi Alonso said if Liverpool play the perfect game we have a chance. I think that means matching Madrid’s desire and passion player for player.  And we have no better man manager and tactician than Jurgen Klopp.  I would be made up if Klopp’s decision to manage Liverpool is rewarded with his first European trophy and the biggest one out of the lot. We speak so much about what the mighty German brings to our club that we should stop to think what Herr Klopp is getting out of his own Liverpool experience. A victory on Saturday will rank as one of his finest achievements. He surely deserves it.

So what is my prediction? My previous predictions for Man City and Roma were winning both ties.  This game is in all honesty 50/50. If we have a go in the first 45 min and take our chances we have a fantastic chance at No 6. Much will come down to our talisman Mohammed Salah and feeding him higher up the pitch in dangerous positions. I am confident he’ll score 45, 46 and sneak in 47.  I am confident we can win the CL. I am confident of that street parade. I am confident Klopp’s grin will be so wide the Guinness Book of records will get involved. I hope.

So I will leave you with an adapted quote from one of my favourite all time films – The Shawshank Redemption – to describe how I am feeling in the words of another Red:

I find I’m so excited that I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a Liverpool fan can feel. A Liverpool fan at the end of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope we can make it across the finishing line. I hope to see my German friend and shake his hand. I hope that Kyiv is as red as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

2 – Yiannis on Kane, Henderson and captaincy:

I’m sure I saw a comment a while back about how Klopp viewed Henderson as the Liverpool captain regardless of who wore the armband for any particular match, due to him being a leader in the locker room.

I really couldn’t give less of a shit about the England captaincy if I tried (or the England team in general for that matter), but if I was to pitch a bit of devil’s advocacy into the Henderson/Kane debate, I would argue that whether or not this is a good decision and how much of an impact it has depends on how the captaincy is being viewed within the team.

If Kane is being given the armband as a largely ceremonial gesture and he is expected to be one of many leaders within the locker room (including others like Henderson and Cahill) then I would argue Kane is actually the better choice. He is the closest this turgid mess of a national team has to a poster boy and is going to be the main focal point of our attack, so he is pretty much custom-built to be a figurehead. Henderson is much better being the engineer trying to run the show below decks and using his leadership qualities in the dressing room where it is most needed.

However, if Kane is being expressly positioned as the sole leader within the squad and the rest of the team are expected to defer to him, then there is certainly a debate to be had about whether he has the right temperament for that. Daniel is quite right that we shouldn’t be making wild accusations and assumptions about a player’s personality and character when we don’t actually know them, but at the same time we can still examine the evidence in front of us.

Saying that Kane is selfish is, in and of itself, not a criticism, as everyone is selfish to some degree. That just comes with the territory when you are born into the species homo sapiens. Even saying that he is more selfish than the average person wouldn’t be unduly critical to me. After all, we expect strikers to be selfish, and we expect rich people to be selfish. He’s rich and human and a striker, so he could be three times as selfish as the average person and that would still be par for the course.

The thing that worries me about Kane is not that he said a few selfish things, nor that he did so very publicly. After all, saying stupid things online without thinking things through first seems to have become the default mode of human communication these days. It’s that his moments of selfishness have come at the expense of the people who he is supposed to care the most about.

The “new year” tweet is understandable to a degree – after all, winning the Golden Boot is a noteworthy achievement and will quite often be the greatest thing a player accomplishes in any given year. However, in a year when Kane got engaged for the first time and also saw the birth of his first child, it isn’t character assassination to wonder why that was the first thing he thought about when looking back on the previous twelve months, and his other half was absolutely right to call him out on that. It was just unfortunate for both of them that it happened in the public sphere and got so much attention, but like I said, modern communication…

The claiming of the goal is again understandable from certain perspectives, but I think that the taking away of a goal from a team-mate, in what is supposed to be a team sport, is what sticks in most people’s craw. If Kane had been claiming what was originally ruled an own goal, no one would have batted an eyelid. However, the reaction he got – especially from other footballers – clearly shows that many felt a line was crossed. Every industry and organisation has its unwritten rules and codes of conduct, and what Kane did was clearly considered a breach of etiquette.

However, the whole “on my daughter’s life” thing is what really concerns me. For a start it’s a problematic phrase in any context. If someone is genuinely telling the truth it just sounds overly dramatic, whereas there isn’t exactly any penalty if someone is lying. If a person’s daughter/wife/grandmother was actually killed if they turned out to be lying, then maybe the phrase might have more meaning. Thankfully, though, the nightmare dystopia beloved of post-apocalyptic sci-fi has thankfully not yet come to pass, so I can swear anything on anybody’s life I want and there’s no consequence to anyone if I’m lying through my arse the whole time.

However, for someone to invoke that kind of emotive language in a very public domain in order to win a fucking competition shows a dangerous lack of empathy and borderline narcissism to this armchair psychologist. I would have though that it’s the sort of language you should only use on the most important and personal of promises, the life-and-death situations where you absolutely, positively, have to convince someone – no matter whether you’re telling the truth or lying. “I swear on my daughter’s life that I did not sleep with her/steal that money/know she was your sister/urinate on the neighbour’s terrier” – you know, the important stuff in life. For a poxy goal, though? What’s next? Would Harry Kane swear to me on his sister’s life that he didn’t eat my last hob-nob?

Anyway, why the fuck do I care who the England captain is, or whether Kane’s ego explodes from the over-inflation? My only enjoyment and excitement with the England team is wondering how badly they are going to fall flat on their dull, expressionless faces. Most of the time England disappoint me by managing to achieve a “par” elimination against the first decent team they face (Germany, Portugal, anyone who knows how to take a penalty), but sometimes the football gods smile on me and England give me a proper epic fail to laugh at (group stage hilarity in Brazil, motherfucking Iceland).

As for Kane, if his ego is allowed to run riot from being given the England captaincy, good!! Last time I checked, he was a key player for one of our rivals, so I have absolutely no problem if he does a 360-with-pike-full-twisting-somersault into the pool of dickishness. Let him have his move to Madrid, where he can be known as “HK9” and do arty photo-shoots while earning £500,000 per week for kicking a ball to entertain a bunch of entitled pricks. Levy will do his usual scatter gun transfer approach with the windfall and any decent players signed will soon be driven off by the crushing wage restrictions, then there’ll be one less challenger in Klopp’s way as he plots the route back onto that fucking perch.

3 – Taskin’s infernal Champions League dilemma:

My offering to the football Gods is somewhat different.  Some would say it’s a form of sacrilege.  And I’m still not convinced that I don’t agree with that line of thought.

I turned down a ticket to the final.

Yes.  I know.  God do I know…

My ST Holder friend managed to get 4 tickets from the ballot and, with 3 going to him and his 2 sons and the final one turned down by the other ST holder, that last piece of gold dust fell to me.  My wife agreed.  It was stupidly expensive, but with her blessing it was within my reach.  A lifelong dream. But I couldn’t.  I’ll try to explain, but again, I’m not sure how convinced I am that I’ve done the right thing.

Having initially given myself no hope of getting a ticket – I didn’t even look for one – I made good on the pact Id made with my old match going friends after Istanbul that if we ever got there again we’d meet up for the final and watch together.  I posted right after the 2nd semi that Id booked my trip to England and I couldn’t wait.  As well as my friends – and most importantly in all of this – I had to consider the years (his entire lifetime) of nurturing my nephew’s Red addiction and how I’d also promised him that I’d be there with him if we got to the final no matter what.  And if that weren’t enough I’d recently performed an ‘exorcism’ on my cousin’s son (way across the water in New Jersey)  who’d inexplicably expressed a liking for Chelsea.  Having converted him to the Red path he was so enamored by the CL run that he was suddenly flying in for the final too.  It wasn’t Kiev, but I was as excited to not be going to a game as you can possibly be.

Then came the call…

“Er, I’ve got 4 tickets for the final.  I wasn’t expecting them, but there it is.  If you want it the 4th it’s yours.” 

On one level I was on cloud 9 and I was going no matter what.  On the other, how could I explain to everyone that, actually, I wouldn’t be there in England anymore because I was going to the final without them?

I could have done it and I know they’d have understood, but I also knew that I’d feel guilty and just not right.  I’d be on the trip of a lifetime, but travelling with a rucksack full of guilt and quite possibly a little helping of bad karma.  I changed my mind at least five times (including giving my passport details for the flights) until during yet another sleepless night I resolved that I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t do that to everyone and I couldn’t risk the guilt if we lost.  You might ask why I’d feel guilty if we lost, but like many us do I somehow relate every silly little action with my projecting good or bad luck on to the team and no matter how small my contribution it could be that tiny difference between a ball hitting the post and deflecting out or it rolling agonisingly over the line to win the game.

And so there it is.  My offering to the football Gods.  Possibly –  no very fuckin definitely –  the most gut wrenching football (and possibly life) decision I’ve ever had to make and one which I still battle with.  I just hope the Gods are reading and have taken note.

Come on Redmen!!!

4- Mark Cohen being Mark Cohen:

Wonderful comments all, the excitement is already palpable and dominating my thoughts 24/7.

For me, the game is likely to be compacted into three key frames, based on what we have seen from both sides so far this season.

Frame 1: The first 15 minutes

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, and Klopp has taken a leaf straight from that old hooved fellow.

Contrary to most lazy punditry, Liverpool Don’t start at 100 miles an hour at all. Indeed, in most games, the press is engaged in between the 15th and 25th minutes, depending on how well the opposition have started.

It is almost like Liverpool play a ‘trick’ with their pressing; start slow, lull opponents into believing that the hype of gegenpress is just that, and then suddenly turn up the heat on them just when the game has developed into a slower rhythm. Nothing quite as hard to defend against than a team that changes tempo so dramatically.

This strategy has killed off countless teams this season. Sometimes the press will only begin later even, or it will start and stop before going again (City 4-3), but the initial key part of this game will be what Madrid do in the first 15.

If they can score first against us, their chances will naturally increase, and the first 15 minutes represents a perfect opportunity for them given we are likely to follow our season long blueprint and try and ‘trap’ them into a slower opening rhythm.

However, just like City and Roma at Anfield, if they fail to score whilst the press is not yet engaged, Half the battle will be won.

Frame 2: from when the press starts to when it stops.

This might be 15th to 45th, like City, or it could be 25th to 65th like Roma, but one thing I am certain of, is that once the rhythm kicks in and gegenpress is switched on, Liverpool will create plenty.

If we take a few chances during this period, as we have done in dozens of games where have scored two or more goals within ten minutes of one another (22 times this season by my count), we will be 90% there.

One of Liverpool’s greatest qualities under Klopp is this amazing ability to put our foot on the gas even harder straight after we’ve scored. It’s demoralizing for opponents and, more often than not, turns the match odds overwhelmingly in our favour.

Frame 3: once the press has stopped

The lads are not superhuman (although with a two week rest and the enormity of the occasion, I expect many personal bests in terms of energy levels, so perhaps we can press for 55-60 minutes instead of 40-50 mins as is our usual style).

This means that, inevitably, Madrid will use their giant bench, and we will start dropping deeper and deeper as the end of the game draws near.

A one goal lead at this stage probably won’t be enough as their quality and frenetic desire will likely produce enough opportunities for them to get back in it, and then we got our work cut out.

I am encouraged by Lallana and Cans returns as both of them may have a vital role to play in the final 15 minutes or so, when Madrid’s fresh bench starts moving at maximum speed.

In the last few months, we have not had a sufficient bench to call on to maintain a solid press and our results have been incredibly impressive in spite of this, so with a couple of quality bench lads, it might prove enough to withstand the Madrid onslaught.

So to cut this thing up –

First fifteen likely to be cagey followed by a period of Liverpool dominance which will hopefully yield plenty of goals with a final period of Madrid ascendancy.

As always, goals change games, so if the game plays out as I expect, we need to have our scoring boots on and hope the likes of Ronaldo are kept quiet or have an off day.

In the final analysis, it is pure bluster from Madristas to believe their team is superior to ours.

We are younger, stronger, fitter and faster whilst possessing a game plan that is absolutely perfect to counterattack their considerable weaknesses.

If we play well, we got this.

5 – A Pre-Match Match Report from Espandole:

Based on markcohen’s analysis, I’d suggest the scoring would go something like…

1 – 0 Madrid after 8 minutes, plastic man with a worldy with their first shot on target

That’s it – you can all go home…

but…

22 mins – Mo Salah rips Marcel a new one and dinks the keep. Oh fuck yes.

Crowd go nuts. World turns red.

29 mins – Sadio finishes off a fluid move with a screamer. We all scream too.

Bedlam. People calling for ‘nurse’…

37 mins – Bobby flashes his pearly whites like Mac the Knife after a cool finish following wave after wave of Liverpool pressure. It’s a red tide. Real look unreal. Perfunctory Milner assist.

Crowd noise breaks sound barrier.

Half time… everyone fucked… in the stands anyway. Singing stops for almost 30 seconds. They go again…

Second half… starts slow, nowt to write home about that. Liverpool containing. Hendo bossin it, Virgil imperious.

Real with big possession, no real penetration… Liverpool dangerous on the counter, Navas makes a couple of wondersaves, woodwork comes to their rescue. Twice. Dang.

82 minute – PENALTY! Obviously not ours. Obviously not a fucking penalty. ‘He’s making it fucking up!’ Our telly in mortal danger…..

The preener puts it in.

Liverpool 3 shitehawks 2.

Ref can fuck off

Nails are bitten to the elbow.

ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ in the key of desperate.

The onslaught begins…

7th minute of added time from nowhere ball falls kindly to Mr Plastic Fantastic Orange Person, on his own with all his mates, 6 yards out

He twats it.

Right into row ZZZ.

Ref blows up.

6 times la.

No sleep til next Pluto.

Fab.

Btw, don’t think it’ll happen like this meself. I’m betting on 6 nil to the redmen, with Robbo bagging a hattrick. Get yer dough on it, you’ll be loaded as well as ecstatic!

YNWA

6 – Mobykidz, with the final word ….

I was in a waiting room earlier and picked up today’s Times and read Henry Winter’s dissection of Man Utd. It reminded me that irrespective of analysis finals don’t always follow trends or statistics even if Mourinho v Conte was always going to be a drab affair. I think Saturday will be about how individuals and teams perform on the day against the pressure and intensity of these games. So I wanted to say something about Real Madrid’s motivations first and then circle back to us.

Whilst our CL form has been exceptional, based on our spend, facing a Real Madrid side who “turn up” for finals is daunting. This team of aging Galacticos or more accurately “Next Season’s Expendables”, are an excellent team. Its just that excellence is fast dissipating but not quickly enough. So what makes up Madrid’s huge expectations?

When Liverpool play we do so usually with the weight of footballing expectations. I sense Real Madrid have far more to consider, fighting proxy political and social battles, that suggests its not just us they are looking to defeat on Saturday but their Catalan enemies. That long term social, cultural and political battle means Real Madrid will never be short of desire, support and finance. It is a club that will never sink under the weight of its own expectations because their rivalry with Barcelona is so multi faceted it can’t afford to.

There are some loose similarities looking at the cultural differences between Madrid and Barcelona (social, political and footballing) that can only be mirrored by Liverpool’s relationship with say the “elite” in London. But that tension is not provoked on the pitch (recently) as much as it is by Madrid.

Winning another successive CL is a political and footballing triumph over the Catalans. Even though its another CL final there’s no fatigue within the Real Madrid fraternity to win again having finished behind Barcelona in La Liga. My point is this club is not short of motivation to perform in the final for footballing and political reasons. I suspect Real players are reminded as such by the club’s hierarchy and its fans. Its weaved into the fabric and finances of this club. Sam Wallace’s extract above on Madrid’s finances is a “too big to fail” type of warning. But the political implications would be too hard for nationalists in Spain to stomach so that safety net will always be there.

This season I have read Paul, Chris, Jeff and others highlight the weaknesses of these glacial galacticos with some brilliant and detailed analysis. If this wasn’t the final I would look at the Spurs game at Wembley as a barometer for setting this game up. But in the final my gut tells me Madrid will turn up. They’ll turn up with the mind set of having something to prove to their perennial critics and enemies. Maybe that’s why BBC Salford ran the idiotic graphic valuing our squad far higher than Madrid’s based on “current” transfer values to downplay the reality Paul highlighted above. We’re the underdogs not them.

So Madrid have points to prove both on and off the pitch and they know how to play finals. But that is where it gets difficult for them. We are playing with confidence. Firmino is the absolute disruptor. Mane is unpredictable. Salah is predictable in his quality. All three will hurt Madrid. The next bank of three will push harder than they have all season. If we thought the press versus Man City and Roma in those Anfield legs were eye popping then this Saturday it will go to another level. VvD leading the line and our two young full backs putting their best foot forward. And as it seems now likely Liverpool fans will outnumber Madrid maybe by 2:1. That Anfield roar will be present in Kyiv.

So I hope we find our rhythm and focus quickly. Xabi Alonso said if Liverpool play the perfect game we have a chance. I think that means matching Madrid’s desire and passion player for player. And we have no better man manager and tactician than Jurgen Klopp. I would be made up if Klopp’s decision to manage Liverpool is rewarded with his first European trophy and the biggest one out of the lot. We speak so much about what the mighty German brings to our club that we should stop to think what Herr Klopp is getting out of his own Liverpool experience. A victory on Saturday will rank as one of his finest achievements. He surely deserves it.

So what is my prediction? My previous predictions for Man City and Roma were winning both ties. This game is in all honesty 50/50. If we have a go in the first 45 min and take our chances we have a fantastic chance at No 6. Much will come down to our talisman Mohammed Salah and feeding him higher up the pitch in dangerous positions. I am confident he’ll score 45, 46 and sneak in 47. I am confident we can win the CL. I am confident of that street parade. I am confident Klopp’s grin will be so wide the Guinness Book of records will get involved. I hope.

So I will leave you with an adapted quote from one of my favourite all time films – The Shawshank Redemption – to describe how I am feeling in the words of another Red:

I find I’m so excited that I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a Liverpool fan can feel. A Liverpool fan at the end of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope we can make it across the finishing line. I hope to see my German friend and shake his hand. I hope that Kyiv is as red as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

Articles published on The Tomkins Times this Champions League Final week:

Monday May 21st:

Liverpool vs Real Madrid – Why Liverpool Can Win The Final Of Opposites, by Paul Tomkins.

Tuesday May 22nd:

Liverpool FC In The European Cup Final – A 41 Year Journey, by Chris Rowland.

Destiny Calling …, by Harry Wicks (TTT subscriber divilmint).

Wednesday May 23rd:

Post-Match Analysis: Liverpool 3 AC Milan 3, Champions League Final, 2005, by Andrew Beasley.

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