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February 2003

1st February: If Rob Shepherd is now painting himself as Gerard Houllier’s big buddy, that just makes me even more suspicious – kind of like when George and McNulty sucked up to Souness. Gerard tells his new chum “we are still some way behind United and Arsenal”, which wasn’t being said last August was it? “I take no notice of phone-ins, how can you check who those people support? They could be Evertonians”………well, yes. They could be. Is that what you tell yourself? There are no unhappy Reds, just trouble-making Blues? I’ve always wondered what it must be like to live in a bubble………

2nd February: What a rip-off. You pay that amount, you expect to see a 90-minute match. Not one that’s finished after ten. WEST HAM 0 L 3 could be seen from the usual “they were awful” perspective, but we’ve asked for this approach for years: they’re rubbish, grab ‘em by the throat and don’t let go. And when the team delivers, all the praise in the world is due. Baros was great, and even Smicer worked hard. Three corners caused all the damage, so the creativity isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders, but they were cocky because of their first home win so they needed to be slapped down hard. Exactly what was required. Well done Reds.

3rd February: Gerard is a nice man sometimes. He shows sympathy to a fellow boss who’s been struggling, and that’s got to be a good thing. Interesting choice of words, though: “I know what it’s like to go through a difficult time – two months ago we were the same”. Two months ago? “Were”? You mean our bad run’s over? Well, that was quick. Two league wins and the pain’s gone. The mathematicians amongst you may say that 5 points from the last 33 is now 12 points from 42, and that’s still not good – but then how can we tell if you are reds or blues trying to stir it up? “Because we can add up?” Oh yeah. Good point.

4th February: Gerrard gets the expected 3-match ban, but Houllier won’t let it rest. “We were hard done by” “David Moyes acknowledged there was no malice in the tackle” “the FA tried to make him miss the cup final and play for England”. The validity of all three claims has to be called into question, given the manager’s current state of mind and the terminal bollocks he’s been spouting lately. Expect some sort of conspiracy theory within the next few days.

5th February: Instead of rubbishing rumours that Hamann will return to Germany, Gerard says “There’s nothing I can do”. Exactly what he did to Fowler, so it looks like bye bye Didi Didi bye. He also makes the bizarre claim that “the team actually started to pick up after he dropped out in mid-December”. Team First again, eh? And it’s bollocks anyway, but when he turns on you that’s that and common sense/courtesy goes right out of the window.

5th February: Along with the FA Cup. L 0 CRYSTAL PALACE 2. It should have been all over by half time of course, and when Heskey ended a 70-yard run with a 2-foot back pass you sensed something was up. How often has Cheyrou been on the winning side? When he stopped in the middle of the pitch because he didn’t get a pass, I’d have happily booted his arse out of this club there and then. The ground reacted with one long groan of amazement when Murphy was taken off. Milan’s strong display at West Ham counted for nothing, but he could have come on for Bruno, Emile, the misfiring Owen – anyone but Danny. They scored the second after they’d been reduced to ten men, and ……and……sorry, I genuinely am lost for words. Perhaps the manager can provide some?

6th February: A blessing in disguise. No honestly, that’s what he called it. A. Blessing. In. Disguise. Losing, at home, to a lower league side, with a man short, by two goals. Do you actually want to get sacked? And that wasn’t the worst of it. “The turning point was when Emile went through on goal. That deflated the rest of the team – mentally, they just sank”. 0-0 at home to a team 20 places below you, 50 minutes gone. Miss a chance, and your whole team mentally sinks!?! Thanks for getting rid of the Spice Boys, Gerard – who knows where we’d be without you?

7th February: I don’t know why the bucketloads of vomit that follow any defeat shock me any more, but Rushie takes the prize. “You need luck to do well in the cup, and Leeds could go on and win it now – they avoided a trip to Anfield in the next round”……..the same trip that so utterly terrified Palace, you mean? Jesus. McNulty mentions the new deal with Reebok, Parry’s faith in GH and “the knee-jerkers”. A knee-jerk, you clueless twat, takes place in an instant – not over three months. It follows one moment of pressure – not after abandoning three competitions with some of the worst results and worst ‘football’ in decades. A moment later, and it’s gone – you don’t have to sit and watch a team drain away to nothing and bore you to tears while the manager talks total bullshit day after day after sodding DAY. There’s only one jerk around here. Reebok can give us 3 billion for all I care, but if Gerard Houllier ever touches a penny it will be an act of fiscal suicide.

8th February: “Had we scored two or three in the first half against Palace it would have been a totally different result”………that’s the manager of your club who said that. Reassuring, isn’t it?

8th February: GH was ill today. With gastro-enteritis………at least it was pouring out of the right end for once. L 1 MIDDLESBROUGH 1 was the same old story. First goal conceded, you knew they wouldn’t win. The fear spreads through Anfield like a virus, and while the team had chances there’s a panic that sets in because they know how desperate it all is. Sunderland hadn’t scored for 8 hours but got 2 against us. Boro’ hadn’t scored in an away game since September, but they managed it today. Just ‘bad luck’ I suppose. Not a bad game. Not a bad display. Not even nearly good enough.

9th February: The Sorcerer may be ill but the Apprentice has learned well: “We dominated, we passed our way through them, the level of our football was tremendous, we will sail through the seasson if we play like this”. Room for one more, nurse?

10th February: And something else is creeping in. The FA has denied the Gerrard/England ‘plot’, Moyes is too busy laughing to reply about Naysmith – and now Thommo’s said Boro staff “apologised” for the way they played. Steve McClaren firmly denies it, and the sad thing is I believe an ex-Manc and not the ex-Liverpool captain. Why the hell should Boro apologise? They only did what we did at the Riverside? Oh, except lose.

10th February: The new book about bungs is serialised in the ‘Mail’, and it starts with a sensational revelation. Harry Redknapp was a bit dodgy – NO?!? Really? I’d never have guessed that, would you? We make an appearance during the Song/Camara deal, the latter’s transfer being arguably one of the weirdest moves ever.

11th February: Have we been secretly taken over by the Gambino Family or something? First Gerrard’s had death threats, now Riise’s mum is getting them in Norway. And there was that restaurant incident in 2000. Things are getting seriously weird. Wouldn’t it be great if football was run by the mafia, though? We could stick Van Nistelrooy’s head in Fergie’s bed one night.

12th February: He was Roy’s biggest arselicker towards the end, do you remember “if you come top 6 and qualify for Europe you’ve had a good season”? Smithy is showing the same signs again. “Everyone has problems in the football world, but if you look at Leeds, Bolton, West Ham or Sunderland the Reds are in a far better position”. So that’s our level of comparison now, eh? Remember Ric George’s pitiful defence of Souness? “Be glad you’re not supporting Barnet”? Gerard may as well start typing out his CV.

13th February: It’s nice to see people kiss and make up. Back in October, he was the jug-eared Judas – a dive against the Reds and a goal for England later, and Prentice’s England report mentions the “former Goodison star” and the “ex-Evertonian”. He even finds time to mention “Liverpool’s CL tormentor Scott Chipperfield” (who hell he?). Form is temporary, class is non-existent.

14th February: Superb back page on today’s Express. Thunderbirds characters with football managers’ heads superimposed and the headline is ‘International Rescue’. Class. Needless to say, Demento is Brains! Can’t work out who Gerard is supposed to be – he may be Virgil? Slow, ponderous, workmanlike and (after that gastro-enteritis) a deep shade of green.

14th February: Naivety of the Year award already claimed. Giggs misses a Welsh friendly, and Mark Hughes says “I’ll be surprised if he’s fit for Saturday”………

14th February: Huge scare headlines on the back of the Echo. Oh my God, whatever terrible calamity has befallen us? Well, it appears Smicer might miss the Worthington Cup final………mmmm. Slow day, was it?

15th February: Well, of course Ryan played – and thank God he did. I haven’t laughed so much since we tied the dog’s lead to my nan’s ankle and threw a stick. The fact that our main rivals (no, seriously) were involved in one of the dirtiest, nastiest cheat-fests in years (and United lost) made it all the funnier. Of course we have to get dragged into it by repeat showings of Rosenthal’s sitter from 1992, but it was worth it.

16th February: Demento Lives! He’s been gone for a while, and I haven’t half missed him. “They bullied the ref, surrounding him the way they do” and here it comes: “United players do not do that”…… Yes! Yes! Thank you Jesus, thank you. We moan about Houllier, but let’s be fair. He’s an amateur in the bullshit department.

16th February: A story in the ‘People’ (you can skip to the next bit if you like) says we’ll be axing 10 players in the summer. Hamann is the most surprising name mentioned, or not given the manager’s remarks about Steve and Danny. Where the money’s coming from to replace these ten players the article wasn’t too informative. It certainly won’t be from their transfer fees. They could always use the Biscan money for next year’s Christmas party.

17th February: Lost, have we? No-one’s talking about how they were outplayed by an Arsenal without Henry or Bergkamp, but this sordid pathetic boot episode. X marks the spot on Beckham’s head, hair deliberately swept back for all cameramen to see. The big tart. Why did this photo take up virtually all of the Echo’s front page? Who in Liverpool gives a flying boot about it? Prepare yourselves for a whole week of this bilge.

19th February: Surreal headline of the week comes in (what else) the Echo. “Rooney Running Risk Of Burn-out” – he’s played about 23 minutes in 4 months, what kind of nonsense is this? I’d worry about the fry ups, not the burn-out.

20th February: Gerard is whittling down the number of ‘real’ fans before our game in France. “Fans who understand can say OK, it’s a bad spell. Those who don’t go to games can’t complain. If you just look at results, sometimes you’ll be disappointed”. Why doesn’t he just paint a giant bulls-eye on his back? It would take pages to counter this nauseous nonsense, but the implication that the football’s been good while the results haven’t really does sound like a man drowning in his own sweat. He’s not good under pressure, is he?

20th February: Didn’t go, can’t complain. AUXERRE 0 L 1 was efficient enough, they could have hurt us badly if they’d had the finish. One class move told in the end.

21st February: “I just wish we could have played more football” – might have been difficult to have played, but we’ve managed it on a few occasions. Even in victory, there’s a knee-jerk search for excuses: “there was the cold, the pitch, we paid a bit too much respect”. R in the month, phone-ins, World Cup, we’re a young team, FA out to get us (continued p 94, 95, 96, 97)…………

22nd February: Henchoz faced Auxerre with a knee problem and misses tomorrow’s vital league game. So where exactly do the priorities lie? The manager makes a rallying cry, and insists that we can’t afford to lose another game if we want to reach the Champions League.

23rd February: I went to this one, can I complain now? BIRMINGHAM CITY 2 L 1. And here is the sentence I never thought I’d type. Robbie Savage stood head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch. That’s right, a pitch with 11 Liverpool players on it. If that hasn’t sent a shudder through your entire body, then why not? Have you ever heard 3,000 hearts sink at once? At the mere sight of Cheyrou’s ballet shoes tiptoeing onto the pitch, the whole away end automatically deflated. This pitiful excuse for a ‘footballer’ must surely have played his last game for Liverpool by now? What a jinx. We were totally outfought and the substitution led directly to their second goal, the act of a man totally at sea and floundering in a job he cannot master. I lost faith in him weeks ago – quite a few waverers joined me today.

24th February: Danny said we deserved nothing, Houllier said we had chances and should have had two penalties. People are laughing at you, boss. Recalling Cheyrou for a battle like that was bad enough, but bringing Carra off showed you really don’t have a clue what you’re doing any more. Please, do yourself a favour. Do us all a favour.

25th February: Strange that all this Monaco business should arise now. Newspaper mischief? Or the way out for both club and manager? Of course it’s all being furiously denied, but most things are at first: the ground move, for example. It’s the way they float out an idea and see what the reaction is. The headline this morning read “Houllier: I’m going nowhere”…………

27th February: Auxerre’s bragging didn’t help them the first time, so why Cisse should do it again is a mystery. After L 2 AUXERRE 0 (3-0), I’m not sure what the strutting ponce has got to boast about. To think they were talking about 30 million for him. What, lire? His substitution antics were entertaining, though. More efficiency from the Reds, and with two goals in two games Owen could be hitting form at the right time. Smicer came on like a man possessed. Cup final in 3 days ………what? Never said a word!

28th February: The Mirror can’t help stirring it, totally exaggerating Cisse’s ‘contribution’ and slagging off Diouf. I think El Hadji’s doing well on the right, he was certainly missed at St Andrews, but I don’t expect the Mirror to behave otherwise. Cup final with united in two days’ time……what? Never said a word!

28th February: ‘Blues’ Dock Dream Begins To Fade’. This is major news. Years of banging on about it, front page exclusives and 6-page features. So where do you think the Echo put this latest revelation? Small item on page 4. Absolutely pathetic.