Free Friday, October 29th 2021: Piss-Take Punditry & Laugh Out Loud Hilarious

Free Friday, October 29th 2021: Piss-Take Punditry & Laugh Out Loud Hilarious
October 29, 2021 Daniel Rhodes
In Free, Free Friday


Best posts of the week, as chosen by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.

1 – Tony Mc in the glowing aftermath of the rout at Old Trafford:

It was 4.30 pm on Sunday 24 October 2021, kickoff time in the Manchester United v Liverpool game, and for the next 115 minutes or so I was completely oblivious to what was about to unfold at Old Trafford. At 6.20 pm when I summoned up the nerve to check the full time score from the Theatre of Dr … oss, I was first left blinking in disbelief, then I was elated and then I was absolutely furious with myself.

I have attended hundreds and hundreds of Liverpool games, home and away, and have watched hundreds more on television, home and away. I very rarely get too nervous when I attend a game, not even a European Champions League final; tense, excited, pumped but very rarely too nervous. Watching a game on television is very different; I get extremely nervous and stressed, and I can feel my blood pressure rising and my head starting to pound. The bigger the game, the greater the stress and the older I get the worse it gets. I am not sure why this is so – maybe it’s because I feel I can contribute to, even influence, the outcome when at a game through my vocal support for The Mighty Reds, while I feel completely helpless when watching on television. Irrational, I know, but when is anything connected with supporting your football team rational?

Which is why, at kickoff time in what for me is still the biggest game of all, I was to be found in my garden giving some small trees and shrubs a pre-winter trim. After weighing up the pros and cons, I concluded that balancing precariously on a step ladder in fading light while wielding an electric hedge trimmer or a very sharp tree saw was potentially less hazardous to my health than watching the game on television. Cowardly, I know, but sometimes discretion really is the better part of valour. And what’s that saying about fortune favouring the brave? Too effing true – I wasn’t brave and missed the game and result against Manchester United which I have been dreaming of for 55 years.

So, in consequence, my comments are made following a relaxed but gleeful viewing of a full recording of the game with the benefit of knowing the score and with a grin which it will take maxillofacial surgery to remove. I watched without the gut-wrenching, heart-pumping, head-pounding tension of watching it live; and sadly without the sheer joy of witnessing in real time the humiliation of Solskjaer’s boys in front of their own booing, walking-out-at-half-time mob who had delusions of adequacy before the game.

But before I watched the action, I just had to watch the post-match interviews to revel in Klopp’s humble words in victory and wallow in Solskjaer’s misery in defeat. We are told there are five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Solskjaer has introduced two new stages before denial : looking stupid and talking bollocks. I didn’t get to see and hear a Klopp interview because Sky Sport (aka MUFCTV) spent their entire post-match show discussing Manchester United’s failings rather than Liverpool’s once-in-my-lifetime achievement.

To the action then. The first half was actually quite weird. I will leave the accurate statistics and analysis to others but to my eyes Liverpool scored 4 goals from 7 attempts and Manchester United scored no goals from 6 attempts. Liverpool were a heady and frustrating mix of the brilliant and the sloppy, ripping the home team’s defence apart with scintillating one-touch football and clinical finishing then presenting the ball to the opposition with sloppy passing and allowing them the space to counter attack. The Manchester United defence was laughably inept; following in the footsteps of those great double acts Laurel and Hardy, Flanagan and Allen, Abbot and Costello, Little and Large, Morecambe and Wise, the Chuckle Brothers, I give you … Maguire and Lindelof! Remember, that pair of jokers cost more than the combined transfer fees of all five Liverpool centrebacks. It was clear to everyone watching, including the increasingly spiteful and deranged TCN, that Manchester United have an allergy to organised, co-ordinated pressing which in Ronaldo’s case is verging on anaphylaxis. He was lazy, static and totally ineffectual and was so frustrated at his inability to make an impact that he pushed Curtis Jones to the ground near the Liverpool goal line and then hacked wildly at the ball, twice driving it dangerously into Jones’ … er, pelvis. To me, it was a red card offence instead of the yellow card it received but we at least had the pleasure of seeing that arrogant, spoilt, petulant, preening narcissist shitting his kecks and running away as VVD and Konate descended on him like a pair of nightclub bouncers preparing to throw a troublesome teenager out onto the street.

The second half started with Mo’s hattrick goal after a swarming midfield press led by Jordan Henderson and Bobby Firmino, followed by a sumptuous through ball by the skipper. The Sky Sport camera focussed on the Old Trafford stand, first on Old Whisky Nose who was shaking his head in disgust; and then on King Kenny who wore a smile as wide as the Clyde. Ronaldo “scored” when it looked like a dozing Andy Robertson, lagging behind the defensive line, had played him onside but that wonderful VAR chap (I’ve always been a fan) ruled it out. Minutes later there was another incident which in my view should have resulted in a red card when Maguire, the last man in the shambolic Manchester United defence, brought Jota down to deny him a clear goal scoring opportunity. Again, it got only a yellow card but it was only a matter of time before a red card was brandished as Pogba, on the pitch for just 15 minutes as a halftime substitute, delivered a shocking, over the ball leg-breaker on Naby Keita. Both left the pitch but sadly Naby did so on a stretcher. This reckless thuggery has got to stop – Pickford on VVD, Richarlison on Thiago Alcantara, Struijk on Harvey Elliott and now Pogba on Naby Keita. I truly believe that there should be an extra ban for a red card offence when there is clear recklessness or deliberate thuggery involved but I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen. The rest of the second half was played out to a background of Manchester United fans streaming out of the stadium and the boisterous Liverpool fans having a raucous party. Liverpool played well within themselves but even so, another couple of goals wouldn’t have flattered The Mighty Ecrus and they would have had them if one or two players had not been seized by goal fever. Manchester United simply concentrated on damage limitation.

Two final observations. One, the indiscipline of the Manchester United team was as shocking as their ineptitude as they received 6 yellow cards and 1 red card. A braver referee might have shown another red card or two. That is another sign of a club in total disarray under the clueless imposter Solskjaer. Two, TCN recently offered the opinion that Liverpool wouldn’t win the Premier League because of a lack of squad depth. Today, Liverpool left out Matip and Mane; Fabinho, Thiago and Elliott were injured; and Milner and Keita suffered injuries during the game. And Liverpool won 5-0. Is that enough squad depth for you, you bitter, biased, yapping, unthinking moron?

It was not a flawless Liverpool performance (and how weird is it to write that after winning 5-0 at Old Trafford?) but there were no significant weaknesses in the team. That makes it difficult to select five for the star players accolade but I’m going for these five:

  • Jordan Henderson – The skipper was totally dominant at the base of the midfield. Another who has been prematurely written off by some as being in decline, just because he has had (by his high standards) a sub-par performance or two. There is plenty of gas in the tank, lots of miles in the legs and many more trophy-lifting shuffles to come.
  • Mo Salah – He is now breaking a record every single week. Marvellously accurate, clinical and efficient again by the Egyptian King of Kings. He is doing his contract negotiating on the pitch.
  • Naby Keita – He was having probably his best Liverpool game, with a coolly taken goal and a sharp assist, until a piece of thuggery cut it short after an hour. Get well soon Naby Lad.
  • Bobby Firmino – He was everywhere in the first half, pressing, linking the play, having shots. Why did anyone doubt The Man With The Megawatt Smile? Klopp clearly doesn’t.
  • Ibrahima Konate – In just his second Premier League start, our new French giant was confident, commanding and efficient throughout to such an extent that we simply didn’t miss Big Bird.

We had dreams and songs to sing ….

2 – and more dreams and songs to sing from Mobykidz:

Row row row your boat gently down the stream…

Man Ure & Ronald-ego humiliated

Goodness. Gracious. Me. Liverpool just dished out a thrashing making Ronald-ego believe the UK bought corporal punishment back. The Ego has only ever once been at the end of such a comprehensive mauling and that was over ten years ago in a game where Messi, Xavi and Iniesta humiliated Madrid by the same scoreline.

But this match, this wonderful game of 94 minutes so beautifully officiated by Ant Taylor, the Hidden Manc, and by VAR, usually a Wank, that sent off the piece of work and disallowed a goal. I want TTTers to raise a glass for two successive 5-0 victories, which were both away, at Watford and Man Ure. Now I hear you ask which was the trickier game? Well it is a matter of intense debate that.

But to manage two such margins even Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, Dalglish & or peak Klopp in 2019 didn’t manage is staggering. But to cap it off at Old Trafford all the more so and with that keeping two clean sheets. In so much as not matching Man City’s own demolition derby score 1-6 in 2011 or even Tottenham’s 1-6 in 2020 we still inflicted our biggest margin of victory against Ole’s charges at OT for nearly 75 years that puts Klopp in exalted company. No wonder King Kenny was beaming but Ferguson bleating.

Salah is Africa’s and World’s No1

Mo Salah is on a one man destruction pattern that even Rambo would find hard to keep up with. I mean to be 4-0 up at half time would be astounding in any game but against this opposition all the more satisfying. Before the Sky pundit plebs put a big amount of hubris on Paul Pogba they should recall that he wasn’t even there in the first half. A non existing back line led by a donkey split again and again like Ali toying with Foreman. It ain’t about brawn but your smarts.

What a hat-trick by the King. Not since Dirk Kuyt’s tap ins have we had another hat-trick against this lot. It’s so ironic that the last away player to score an OT hat-trick was the player now ploughing his slow furrow for Man Utd. Sad Ronald. Salah had 6 touches in his box, created 2 chances, 7 shots with 4 on target, got his 5th league assist, and now has 15 goals in 12. And I didn’t think he was brilliant.  AND After scoring his 106th league goal the King removes Chelsea hit man, Didier Drogba, as Africa’s main man. There’s an irony that its Mo’s previous club hero he displaces and that mad hatter Mourinho, who let him leave, himself is relegated to Roma from where Mo came to us. Last laugh indeed.

7 November in East London. Mark your calendars. Mo Salah is my bet to score in his ninth league game in a row, which breaks Studges record. But the King has been hungry in 10 consecutive games now. That’s some bloody sequence which again Ronald-ego has himself done a long time back. But that’s all interesting in the past. The King now reigns with only the peerless Robert Lewandowski in the frame with Bayern. Here’s a guy who has scored in eight successive games a couple of times.

4 minutes 42 seconds & the party started

Naby scored in two successive games but his reward was nearly a broken leg. I was fearful after we scored after only 4 minutes and put Liverpool in uncharted territory (remember El Nino scored after 5 minutes). But we ended up with 68% possession and maximised our conservation of energy. With Brighton next in the league we should extend our 18 game streak and against Moyes there’s no reason for Liverpool not to score three or more again.

Nev and Rio predicted a home win. We were nervous too. Yet the fact is Man Ure have beaten us only once and the same with us in past ten encountes. But without Ralph Varane it fell apart. Harry looks immense…ly lost. I mean a 60% Virg is a cut above them and more so. Mcguire’s mea culpa at the post match was a tough watch.  Ferdinand tweeted expletives, allegedly in A&E during the game, bemoaning the shallacking yet himself predicted  United win. How detached are you Rio from fact and fiction?

By the way what a delightful contrast of Alex Ferguson’s dour faced four letters expletives as King Kenny adorned his face with a fully loaded bonnie smirk. Its not so much the perch we knocked you off but knocking them the eff out and needing a new driver at the wheel. The Glazers will be hunkering down in their bunker trying to work out what to say or do or who to approach attempting to predict the moves the House of Saud will also be making.

Punditry is not predictive but a piss take

Yesterday self confessed block head Chris Sutton declared Chelsea Premier League winners in waiting for thrashing a poor Norwich side. There’s a rousing finale for pundits to summise that Chelsea can now be considered overwhelming favourites because of one week’s worth of results. Only a couple of weeks back Tuchel was useless for being pasted by Pep but now against the Canaries they look future Champions? I hate the buy me a headline “13 conclusions” from one result.  The result at Brentford last weel was more a litmus test than the limp and lame turning up at Stamford Bridge. Yet Liverpool out did both City and Chelsea but the narrative is how awful Man Utd were to let us thrash them.

It took the BBC’s live text editor covering our game until the end of his coverage to make a telling remark that could be taken anyway except it was from a Salford based organisation. The comment “I now need to shut my mobile off for two days” after this thrashing is how a fan reacts. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was BBC corporate policy for 99% of their sports website staff to allowing the healing to start.

Sky Sports on the other hand were having an open house for Manchester dignitaries to sort through their feelings starting with hotel tycoon Gary Neville. Each comment was met a slow nod and consoling by its presenter and a shell shocked and gleeful Jamie Carragher. Only Souness took a show no mercy Cobra Kai approach continuing a line on Soljskaer’s inexperience. In the end Jermaine Defoe, who sat their like the embarrassed outsider, tried to make sense of it as the self flagellation went on and on to make it so unbearable to watch “the biggest club in the world” drown in its own self doubt. I have been there, bought the t-shirt, and moved on six years ago.

Before the season started, “champions Manchester City and Chelsea were picked by 20 BBC experts as the two teams to challenge for the league this season”, with Jermaine Beckford predicting a 5th placed finish.  After the match the BBC’s “top” analyst Phil McNulty wrote “Klopp stalked the touchline constantly,  while Solskjaer sat in his seat looking shell-shocked and lost.” That’s how most managers look, just ask Diego Simeone. He goes on “Liverpool looked light years ahead of United in every aspect of the game. Management. Coaching. Organisation. Tactics.” Why does that surprise anybody when we have a squad that has the same guys who won 97, 99 points, a Champions League final, Cgsmpions League title, Premier League runners up, Premier League title, Super Cup and Club World Cup and unbeaten in 21. Yet spent on just one beast of a centre back. Coincidence? No.

McNulty adds that “Klopp has fashioned a formidable unit during his six years in charge while winning the Champions League and the title – while United are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants affair. The gap is vast. Liverpool will be right in the title fight along with Chelsea and Manchester City.” No shit Sherlock. It takes a 5-0 thrashing of United to sit up and take notice? Now I can’t predict the future but every single one of those 20 pundits should be embarrassed. Not because they predicted City or Chelsea to win but their obsession with transfer spend rather than squad cohesion. A case in point yesterday and McNulty stating the obvious on our quality.

So coming back to punditry, where does Liverpool’s thrashing of United put us in the short sighted eyes of Sutton? In fact we look like a team who have suddenly not thrown away a lead. We went to Old Trafford and in that second half turned the screw so hard it meant Ronaldo-bot and Pogba-bot malfunctioned badly. This wasn’t about the goals we scored but eventually how we managed ourselves. There was little desire to score 6, 7 or 8 but rather test our ability to shut the game down. The ruthlessness to refrain was for all to see. 68% possession away from home is usually outstanding. Yesterday it was easy because we wanted it so. We were in total control.

Its all about the team…but Jota is a lucky charm

There was nothing special individually about our performance. All of Mo’s goals were similar to Jota and Naby. All good moves inside the box finished off by a striker in his god-given prime. My favourite goals scored inside the box with ruthless efficiency. The most significant goal was Naby’s coming soin after Fernandes blazed high and wide and for demonstrating the midfield goal scoring contribution again! Kieta scored two games in a row. Danger, danger from all quarters.

Ibou started his second game since Palace and coped well with his after burners. Can anyone believe we won so convincingly with this starting XI? Well we showed our grit when Ronaldo’s petulance booting Curtis lying prostrate and Ibou protecting his mates. He did pretty much everything asked of him. We should see him start against Preston.

Trent is a joy to watch in midfield with Henderson practicing his triangles. But what a Thiago like pass, that went under appreciated in the aftermath, for Salah to score an absolute beauty. That pass was so good that if Fernandes had played it the replays would have kept coming. A nice riposte by the Captain, who didn’t play all too differently from Athletico, but simply didn’t give the ball away and didn’t stray too far from home.

Virgil and Robertson need a rest. For the love of god the next 10 days should be a mini break for two players who look tired and mentally drained. Robbo did ok with two attacking surges leading to goals and marking Greenwood out of the game with a couple of good clearances. Matip was in protective custody with Brighton in mind and Joe will stretch those hammies against Preston. Klopp has rotated but its time to rest Virgil and Robbo. Tsimakis and Ibou look ready to play a couple not just to back fill but on the back of form. And so does Ox who came on yesterday (Martin Tyler sly dig about us running out of midfielders as we scored out fifth) and looked accomplished, controlled and very bouncy. He has a couple of goals waiting to come out.

Jota scored a nice tap in. Otherwise he got into some good positions when Salah didn’t pass, which was annoying and could have had his own hat-trick but otherwise a couple of loose crosses and passes show he’s going through a “rough” period and explains why he’s not starting. Yet his selection made sense scoring his 4th in 7 games against Man Utd never being on the beaten side since coming to England. Bobby’s spark is back in pressures and keepie ball. I think against Athletico and Man Utd he was key in pulling their centre backs and DMs apart and making space. I’m happy he’s back.

That was overall an 8 out of 10 performance. It was not perfect but effective. It was a marker after a run of three seemingly tough away fixtures. Now we need to be ruthless and keep winning points. Brighton is a big game and we shouldn’t be complacent against Potter’s side. We need to take goal scoring opportunities and force these sides to come out and play. Those tap ins are just as worthy of high praise than Salah’s individual brilliance as they point to a team bang in form.

70,000 witnesses see Liverpool evolve, again

22 games unbeaten in all competitions. 41 goals in 13 games. 18 Premier League games unbeaten. We’ve not lost a game all season. All our strikers and midfielders are finding the net and those set pieces are a tool back in our armoury. We look like a different side from 2019-20 where Wijnaldum’s exit opened the door to Elliott, Jones and Kieta to make Liverpool more offensive. We miss Gini but boy that midfield is scoring and that is crucial if we are to see out the season at the top. Belief is a big factor to play the way we are.

Maybe last season’s empty stadiums also emptied out the grey matter between pundits ears. But to score four last season in front of empty stands but to go one better in front of 70,000 dealing out such a beating my satisfaction can’t be compared knowing they bore witness to our ruthlessness over 94 very painful minutes. Klopp himself set another Liverpool record of going 7 unbeaten against Man Ure. The guy is relentless as this team keep evolving in small but significant ways.

Jurgen Klopp knows these results can be freakish. After a challenging period the priority is recovery with the hope that Naby, Thiago, Milner and Fabinho all recover and start training over the week. With Naby it might take a day or two to see what Pogba did, the little piece of work. But we just need to keep our focus and maintain the ruthless finishing on show yesterday. It was the performance in match week nine that leaves you with more than enough data points to make a prediction. But there’s still a massive way to go with huge obstacles like Afcon to navigate. But for now let’s look on the bright side of life Salah… Salah… Salah… Salah.

The Big Red Machine is getting back to its relentless best by row, row, rowing its boat with synchronicity down the stream….

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily Liverpool will win the league.


3 – AllenVM reacts after the five-nil drubbing:

I started reading the comments, but I don’t want to comment on others thoughts, so I have scrolled considerably to write my thoughts without influence, as such I may repeat.

There is no starting point other than what a team and what a team spirit, I feel truly privileged to witness this team. apart from a brief lapse in concentration (slightly showboating) by Trent on 88mins that lead to them having another chance to show us how poor they are in front of goal there wasn’t anything cringeworthy for us, it was a controlled performance.

Naby Keita getting injured is something we’ve seen before, but this time the lad who got taken out by a clump of turf rode some serious attention and many ‘never gonna get the ball’ tackles.
I really didn’t enjoy Millie going off, he should have pulled up straight away (though they would have been in, but not the scariest scenario in this world), I hope he hasn’t added a week’s recovery with each 10m he continued running.

I was very happy to see Curtis on the pitch though, and once he got into the match we saw glimpses of what he promises to become, but yesterday was about the team and I think young Jones has matured well and is enjoying his football. He also had to ride some treatment from united, obviously the Ronaldo red card that never was had nothing to do with Curtis really, but it was noticeable that they had marked he and Naby for treatment.

On this point I love Joel to bits but Ibou played like the beast we all thought he was but hadn’t seen enough of yet. He puts himself about, but in a subtle enough way that it looks innocuous. I feel it’s fair to jump to our new defender after the end of the last paragraph; we have been targeted by teams for our lack of height up top and bullied by their shithouses, but with Ibou Konate (he’s fast as well as big, he’s the real deal isn’t he!) on the pitch he will always be in the back of your mind as an opposition player. We all got to see if he was the real deal or not, wow, he has character and plays with a smile, love it, playing with Virgil can only put him into another trophosphere, the future does indeed look good!

Shame about all these bloody midfield injuries, needs correcting, I had thought Jurgen might allow himself a cup run this season but unlikely given the early devastation. Remember it was this point of last season that Virgil was injured, we didn’t panic then , he joined Ox and Naby, we are only a short way in and already we are very light in midfield.

I though Diogo Jota was on the pitch too long, he was very leggy after an hour being that he’s just back from an injury picked up on International duty, it reminded me of his injury against Midtjylland. He needs the minutes but maybe not all at once.

Jota came through unscathed, but I think he needs to be managed a little, especially when 0-5 up we could have brought on Minamino. We got lucky maybe but we can’t be pushing the ‘red zone for injuries’ boat out. I’m glad he came through, but if he were on song he would have had a hattrick also!

Funny moment I noticed Cavani and Dalot waiting to come on in the 60 something minute, Cavani is so keen to get on the pitch he sprints on as soon as the board goes up, Dalot and the 4th both had to remind him that the laws of the game say he must wait for the other guy to come off first, he trudges back having just summed up their day in 5 seconds!
Ole wants to emulate Klopp and Liverpool..?! No shit Sherlock, who in football wouldn’t?!

Thing is you need more than just a few Jurgen quotes taped to the back of the toilet door, you actually need to be 1, Up to the job. 2. At a club with true aspirations and a plan on how to achieve it. and 3. Actually have the first fucking clue of what you are doing before you start a match against the best Manager of his generation with tactics from when you were a player, do your family proud, do some homework.

As I did for Mourinho, Van Gaal, and especially Moyes, I truly and honestly hope that Ole is their manager for a good few more seasons yet, but if it has to be then I truly believe Michael Carrick should get the assistant job under Steve Bruce when they sign him for next season!

Yes the Hendo assist was very much like the Gerrard one for Sturridge, it does take a special ability to do that, Hendo does certainly to me more and more bring his whole bag of tricks onto the pitch each match, over compensating maybe, trying too hard, sometimes, but he is always in the game.

He hated being out on the wing back when Rodgers preferred Clint Dempsey, and I think it is true his best position is as a deep laying midfielder but he is not the best we have in that position. The captain is re-inventing himself, as he jollywell might considering his recently improved terms, let’s hope he finds/has found his groove.

Mo Salah is a credit to himself, surely the club want to keep him?!

Finally I was very amused to see Virgil out-sprinting Greenwood, and later Konate out-sprinting Dalot. We had two big and fast and skillful footballers in defence who might just be worthy of setting a benchmark for big, fast, skilled, ball playing defenders! Joe needs to get on the pitch ASAP or he might find it difficult, I’d expect he and Phillips for the Preston match.

It’s a nice feeling, one I couldn’t have imagined I’d see. Allez Allez Allez

Edit: The clip at the top stops too soon, King Kenny laughing like a loon and saying ‘fuck yes’ was one of the many day-makers for me!

4 – Beez on Ole’s record since taking over:

Ole and United are in an interesting position. He can point to them having the third best record in the PL since he took over, which suggests he has done a good job.

Yet they – if they had any sense – could note that his points-per-game average of 1.83 only works out at 70 for a 38 game season. Enough for third in the last two years, but more likely battling for top four at best.

So really, the question is: Is it worth being the third best team when you’re so far adrift of the top two? And as Chelsea are only four points United in the Ole era, they’ll be going past too soon enough (and of course in the reality of a single campaign, they already have).

There’s been a lot of people saying ‘Ole did a good job for the first two years’ so I thought I’d look at his league record: 194 points from 106 games. If you look at the 106 games prior to his arrival, United earned 201 points, so he’s behind. In fact, for 75 of the 106 league matches on his watch, Solskjaer had earned fewer total points than United did in the same number of preceding games before he joined (if that makes sense! So, he earned 50 from his first 30, as an example, when Jose had won 54 from his last 30, and so on).

At this juncture, Solskjaer sympathisers will say his team have had a bad run lately but that things were better prior to that. Yet his United haven’t had an overall average of at least two points-per-game since his 20th match, and don’t forget he won 10 and drew two of his first 12 games; ignore that honeymoon period for the sake of argument, and the picture is obviously worse.

In short, if Solskjaer has done a good job, then expectations at Old Trafford are a lot lower than what they used to be, and in light of the money spent it’s hard to see why they should be.

5 – Tash reflects on the comedic value of the victory at Old Trafford:

I’ve woken up after big wins that have meant more. Championship wins, cup wins and 4-0 comebacks against my adopted home’s team being some obvious examples. But I can’t quite remember waking up after such a funny game. I mean properly laugh out loud hilarious.

I also don’t ever remember going into a game against this lot being so confident to begin with. I mentioned pre-match that I was so confident that it unnerved me. It wasn’t normal to be actively looking forward to one of these games. I normally dread them.

Before the game I saw the same single magpie, twice. Once, hanging on the side of a palm tree in a way I’ve never seen a magpie. As if he was goading me to say “Look at me. I’m a magpie. And I’m on my own!” and then walking back along the same route I glanced across and he popped his out from behind the tree. Again, appearing to want to be seen. Alone. Normally at this stage I’d pace around looking for a pair in case my seeing a sole magpie directly led to us losing (because I would utterly believe it did), but not on Sunday. I just thought “Fuck him. They’re shit”.

The loss of Fabinho worried me a little, but again, not as much as it might. And of course Hendo made sure that any concern was massively mis-placed.

And so the game. Liverpool were good. But honestly not great. Perhaps because they simply didn’t need to be. Utd on the other hand were simply inept. No plan, no structure, no fitness even. Just a group of lads sent out with some vague instructions about winning.

We didn’t so much cut through them as stroll through them. Of all 5 goals I think only Hendo’s pass to Salah was a real ‘Wow’ moment. The rest was almost training ground like. Brilliant, because they’re goals. And against Utd. But almost too easy.

The fact that Utd couldn’t put a glove on us was summed up by Ronaldo McDonaldo’s petulance in kicking out at Jones. I’m convinced that he ws looking for a red in order to extract himself from the game. It’s not good for his marketing to be humiliated in the world’s most televised domestic game. And he should have gone too. But karma had a better plan; “No, you stay where you are Cristiano. Continue to wander about, for you will score the goal that allows you to show the world that you at least did your bit. Then you will watch as it’s disallowed you posing little twat.” It felt better than 6-0.

On top of the joy of watching Ronaldo having his moment stolen we had the travelling Reds singing “Ole’s at the wheel” complete with child-like steering wheel actions and asking him for a wave (Spoiler: He didn’t wave), a looped Status Quo revival of “Salah’s scored 10 in a row” and we watched as the Utd (apparently not so) faithful re-enacted an emergency exit from the stadium. To their credit it was undertaken in a quiet and orderly fashion with a staggered dispersal beginning from the half-time whistle. But the crowning glory was the tv cameraman focusing in on a thoroughly pissed off Fergie, immediately juxtaposed by a shot of Kenny pissing himself laughing and muttering “fuckin hell” to himself. Comedy gold. The goals themselves only barely make the highlight reel.

Since the game it’s been all about enjoying the memes and marvelling at how Gary Neville – in his role as (un)objetive football pundit – still outright refuses to countenance even talking about the need for a new manager. His idea of supporting his team is like a captain vowing to go down with his ship and then doing so while steadfastly refusing to plug the obvious gaping (OGS-shaped) hole that is right in front of him – just to prove a point. Let us all pray that the Glazers listen to him.

To end on a more sombre note, my hope is that Naby is OK. It was a sickening challenge by Pogba who fully deserved his red. He capped his petulance by showing no remorse or concern for Keita – who had had another excellent game after the sour ending to his appearance at the Wanda Metropolitana. With Milner also being withdrawn it’s starting to look a little concerning in terms of midfield options although both Ox and, particularly Curtis, looked good.

Articles published since last Friday, with excerpts:

Sunday Oct.24th:

Man United THUMPED 0-5 By Liverpool (Big TTT Bumper Post-Match Analysis), by Andrew Beasley and various.

Paul Tomkins: Liverpool now have a surfeit of outstanding centre-backs, but a midfield pool of eight that’s been decimated by injuries. Still, a 5-0 stroll it is, with Curtis Jones just about fit enough to return to duty as a sub. Again, how many players have Liverpool lost to serious injury in the last 12 months to red-card tackles? I make it four, unless Keita can get back quickly.

And to cap this drift into needless nostalgia, ageing cryobot Cristiano Ronaldo should have been sent off for violent conduct, but it was good of Anthony Taylor to keep him on to watch the best player in the world, Mo Salah, as Liverpool move further into the future and United slump further into the past.

I’ll write more about the way United have turned in 1990s Liverpool and Liverpool have turned into 1990s Manchester United tomorrow, but this is the post-thread, and we’ll be having a party. Nothing is won yet, but United hadn’t been 4-0 down at half-time in 70 years, and this is a victory that was only marred by the Reds deciding to play keep-ball for the final 30 minutes; perhaps out of sympathy.

Monday Oct 25th:

Lose Battles, But Win The Wars. Liverpool Now Winning Both Against Man Utd, by Paul Tomkins.

The issue Liverpool have with Salah – and I wrote this before the hat-trick at Old Trafford – is that he’s worth £500,000-a-week in terms of comparable output to the top-earners in the league (and right now, the entire world), but that would put him at twice what anyone else earns. The club can’t afford to give everyone else an extra £100,000-a-week to make it fairer. The Reds’ other top players are in the £200,000-a-week bracket.

None would object to Salah earning more than them, as he’s clearly the top dog and in the form of his life, but if Salah wants twice as much as the next-best-paid, that’s sure to undermine things if he loses form or melts. Yet right now, as well as 15 goals in 12 games, he has a ton of assists, too.

Tues. 26th:

2021/21 League Cup | 4th Round | Preston North End | Deepdale Stadium | 7.45pm Kick Off, by Gary Fulcher.

Given their age, it’s not surprising that Preston North End have a rich history, at least during the 1800s. Not only did they win the inaugural first division title in 1888/89, they also lifted the FA Cup that same season without conceding a goal en-route, becoming the first club to win the ‘double’, doing so by going the entire league season unbeaten. Thus the Invincibles were born.

Two of the biggest names in British football spent decades as players at Preston North End, with Tom Finney and Bill Shankly both having stands named after them. The former spent 14 years at Preston between 1946 and 1960 and the latter 16 years between 1933 and 1949, lifting the FA Cup in 1938, Preston’s last major honour.

Magical Thinking, and the Total Reality Divergence Between Liverpool and Manchester United, by Paul Tomkins.

Adjusted for inflation, the Reds’ £XI will be around £400m, ranking 4th in the Premier League, while United’s is over £700m, up there with Man City’s.

The Reds’ XI will contain players who, in the summer of 2015, were at Southampton, Hull City, Internacional (Brazil), Sochaux B, Paços de Ferreira (who still sound like a 1970s nightclub singer), Red Bull Salzburg, Fiorentina; and that nobody who arrived from Hoffenheim.

A free transfer from Schalke will be surprisingly left on the bench, along with yet another Southampton player, a reserve left-back from Olympiacos, another from Red Bull Salzburg, and some lad from Charlton. Plus, two kids from the Reds’ U18 side will feature.

Wed. 27th:

Liverpool and the Art of Crossing – How They’re Currently Doing, and Could They Do Better?, by Andrew Beasley.

History suggests that Liverpool’s potency from their crossing is almost definitely going to fade, and also that they won’t be alone in this either. They are one of five teams in the Premier League who’ve set up a goalscoring chance with at least 16 percent of their crosses in 2021/22, when only five sides have done that across a whole season in the last 12 years.

The Reds are currently at 17.5 percent, when the previous seasonal high was 16.8 by Bournemouth in 2018/19, and the league wide average is a much lower 12.2 percent. It’s a similar picture for converting accurate crosses directly into shots, with only Aston Villa in 2019/20 ahead of this year’s Reds (and Liverpool had joy at their place with a couple of crosses two years ago, lest we forget).