1st January: I should have known what would
happen next when I read Tommy Smith’s wise
words. “The draw with Arsenal has put Liverpool
back on track – they’ll feel they
can go anywhere and get a result”. Shame
we didn’t play them two months ago, then.
And of course what he meant to say was “anywhere
except St James Park”. Add that to Lawrenson’s “a
definite 3 points for Liverpool and a real turning
point for the Reds” and there we are -
well and truly jinxed. Travelling to the North
East was the most pointless exercise since Rick
Waller’s. NEWCASTLE 1 L 0 was a travesty
of a performance. The manager dredged up this “we
never get battered” defence before the
game. Well, tonight you saw just why. A man down,
a goal down, what the hell did it matter if we
lost 2 or 3 nil? Well, it matters to Houllier.
How else can you explain Diouf being replaced
by Vignal in the latter stages? All attacking
momentum (and when I say ‘momentum’ think
tortoise) evaporated. Diao’s behaviour
was completely amateurish. No-one thought you
were ‘hard’, they thought you were
a prick. We’re already playing twelve v
ten (Gallagher’s a cheat and Biscan can’t
control a bag of cement with a dead elephant
taped to it) and he goes and does that. If Houllier
thinks we don’t need any new blood during
the transfer window, he’s either an idiot
or he’s too scared to ask Parry for more
money in case a laughing fit kills his most staunch
ally. Probably both. “I am fully confident
in this team”. They should be famous last
2nd January: But I don’t think 5,000 volts
could keep him quiet. “I always knew we
would hit a phase like this”. His mystical
powers didn’t stretch to formulating a
plan to avoid it, obviously. It’s infectious:
Rick Parry says “we’re not completely
out of the title race yet”. In the same
way I haven’t completely given up hope
of playing for the Reds one day, either. On yesterday’s
evidence, I’d make a great right winger.
2nd January: Welcome to happy hour, with your
host Chris Bascombe! “It’s all gone
horribly, horribly wrong……one can
be forgiven for having a sense of panic ……Liverpool
are not good enough. That’s it…… the
slide into mid-table mediocrity will be tough
to reverse” and so on. Speaking as a “buffoon” who
has questioned the manager, I concur completely.
3rd January: At least we’ve got Keegan
in our corner on Sunday. “I asked Nicolas
if he wanted to miss the Liverpool and he said ‘Non,
Non’”. That’s our team talk
3rd January: The Echo flips with a Rooney “best
since Best” headline. Of course, who are
we to argue with the assessment of Shrewsbury’s
assistant manager? While McNulty slides into
insanity with “Houllier has the job for
as long as he wants it”. Maybe that’s
what has gone wrong? It’s not the original
Gerard at the helm, it’s a series of Saddam-like
doubles protecting the myth that he’ll
last forever. That would explain the poor transfers,
the baffling tactics, the contradictory statements ………
4th January: Small point, but did George Best’s
United ever lose to a team 80 league places below
them? “I just can’t foresee an upset
at Gay Meadow and I fully expect a Blues victory”.
4th January: More Team First, with the onus
placed squarely on the players. “I am entitled
to say that the players can deliver more”.
Fair enough, and no-one would disagree. Is it
fair to expect Biscan to do well on the right
wing? No. Is it fair to expect the manager to
fulfil his promise of more “self expression”?
Yes. Is it fair to expect a manager to get more
than 4 points out of 30? Yes. Is it fair to expect
a manager to shut his gob and just do the bloody
5th January: Like that, for instance. MAN CITY
0 L 1 didn’t take much. A change of tactics
will always phase Keegan, but today we had width,
purpose and good possession. Diao was a hundred
times better, Diouf on the right made a difference
and Mellor gave a brave unselfish performance.
Anelka, as confidently predicted, did little.
All that morning paper whinging, and that’s
how he expresses his disgust? In fact, City were
atrocious. I thought our ‘Last Day of the
Kop’ performance was bad, but the last
cup tie at Maine Road will be remembered for
abou-………sorry, what were we
talking about again?
5th January: Gerard’s entitled to a gloat
or two, especially as one fat hack’s column
says he wants him replaced by Sammy Lee – now,
if you’re looking for real buffoons, Mike
Parry’s your man. I’d like to know
the true meaning of “The FA Cup is a good
diversion from the Premier League”, though.
For the players, Gerard? Or for us?
6th January: Liverpool have won a game. Jesus,
can’t you tell? Everyone’s on the
bounce today. “The whingers who can’t
even bring themselves to enjoy it when the Reds
win” – just doing me job, Chris! “This
was the toughest tie of the round for a Premiership
side”? Hmm, Middlesbrough went to Chelsea
and Spurs got battered at Southampton. Slight
exaggeration, if you ask me. But if you want
verbal diarrhoea stand well back because here
comes the boss. “When I listen to the fans
in the stadiums I know they are behind us – it
is those fans I listen to, not those on the phone-ins ”.
That’s nice. Sing his name and he’ll
listen. Criticise him and he won’t. Great.
That means you’ve got your own voice coming
back at you all the time. No wonder we’re
sinking………oh sorry, I forgot.
We’re not sinking at all. Get this: “A
good team never loses twice in a row, and thanks
to the cups we never have”. This might
seem like a rude question, but are you a moron?
No, seriously, are you? 6 defeats and 4 draws
in the last 10 league games, but we’re
still a good team because we spaced the defeats
out nice and evenly?!?! This is worse than Souness.
7th January: Remember Charlton, and that line “this
is no longer a blip it’s a slump”?
Well, reporters can say what they like – but
Liverpool still think it’s a “blip”.
Ask Danny Murphy: “We have come forward
quicker than anticipated” ………ah
right, that will explain it then. I mean, when
have Liverpool FC given a manager less than 5
years to get it right? Apart from Souness………and
8th January: Here are today’s classics: “Just
because we are 6 points short of what I think
we should have in the league, people say it’s
a crisis”. Yes, Gerard. And now that Stevie
has been formally charged over the Naysmith tackle? “I
can say that our player had no intention at all
of hurting anybody”. Ah ha. And number
3: “Now I sense the players want to take
the second half of the season by the scruff of
the neck – that is how we’ll go into
8th January: And then they’ll just let
it go again? SHEFFIELD UNITED 2 L 1 is only half
time, but our inability to do the job for 90
minutes is becoming farcical. This is a poor
team, basic, confused, relying on physical presence
and defensive solidity and the odd bit of creativity – and
United are worse. Substitutions were made for
the sake of it. We’re back to putting Emile
on, no matter how ludicrous the position or how
well the original eleven are doing – and
we paid for it. It should be easy at Anfield,
but the tie should already be over. Still, should
be a sell-out eh?
9th January: News just in: South Yorkshire Police
are complete and utter scum………shock ………horror.
As for United’s retards, the second leg
should be interesting. Plenty of ‘afters’ with
the coaching staff too. Getting annoyed because
a lower league side got “stuck in” seems
an exercise in futility, but we’re doing
it just the same. The challenge on Kirkland was
poor, but if we need an extra man to protect
a lead again the Blades that says more about
us. “Hopefully, we’ll have a better
surface at Anfield”………sure
you don’t want to mention the moon’s
alignment with Saturn? Or your mouth’s
alignment with Uranus? Because you’ve blamed
everything else. And everyone else………well,
everyone with one exception.
10th January: And the word for January is ‘blip’. ‘Blip’.
It’s only the AGM, so Moores had to speak
anyway (in those dulcet Cary Grant tones), but
it’s often a poor sign when the chairman
says “we have a very good manager”.
Not for nothing is it known as the DREADED vote
of confidence. “Apart from a small blip
I don’t think we are doing too badly”.
Out of the CL, out of the title race, CL qualification
in doubt. Good job it wasn’t a big blip,
11th January a.m.: Wind-ups everywhere. Sheffield
reveal what went on the other night – “Wait
till we get you at our place” was Thommo’s
clever response – and Lee Hendrie fans
the flames for today by saying we’re not
that great to watch. The only pain that’ll
cause Liverpool fans is if we crick our neck
through too much nodding, but it will hopefully
rev the players up to give us a top notch display
11th January p.m.: Ah ha. L 1 ASTON VILLA 1.
That’ll show Lee Hendrie, won’t it?
Drab stuff, and we were lucky to get the point.
I enjoyed the physical battle between Dublin
and the SAS, you don’t often get that nowadays – certainly
not at the other end, where judging by Kopites’ groans
you’d have thought we had signed a new
number 8 called Getupyabigtart. The contrast
was stark. Villa are in a terrible mess, and
they should have won this. Could things get worse?
12th January: Indeed they could. I’ve
finally snapped with the manager. If he’d
said “I WILL win the title and the Champions
League at Liverpool – that is for sure” in
November (when we were still in the hunt for
both) I’d have been furious, but saying
it during Liverpool’s Worst League Run
since We Were Relegated (official!) is a sign
of mental instability. We can’t put up
with this any longer. By also saying “of
course, it’s harder to win these days”,
he is diminishing the achievements of truly great
managers like Shankly, Paisley, Fagan and Dalglish.
It may be a valid opinion, we’re all entitled
to them, but you sense he’s only saying
it to save his own neck.
13th January: But we’re going to have
to wade through more tripe before the club finally
gets the message. Like Thommo’s “Look
at Dion on Saturday, look at Shearer at Newcastle
and what Gary Mac did for us – players
like that offer leadership and experience”.
Hence the headline ‘WE ARE MISSING OLD
HEAD”. “You have to remember our
players are still young”. They are? Sami
and Steph are nearly 30, Vlad and Didi are late
20’s, Carragher Owen Heskey and Murphy
have 5 or 6 years in the Premiership – how
old does this ‘head’ actually have
to be? Or am I treating a blatant smoke screen
with far too much seriousness? Hmm, a tricky
13th January: And here’s that old head – Ian
Rush! True, he can’t play but he can pass
on his experience and that’s the main thing.
Apparently, this all took “six months of
negotiations”. Ian, do you wanna work for
Liverpool? Of course I do! Great, see you Monday.
That took six months?
15th January: Van Horsehead spills the beans
about the betting culture going on at Old Trafford.
Card schools are common and the amounts won and
lost are “obscene”. The Mail’s
laughable headline is “Fergie anger as
striker reveals betting culture” – this
is obviously not the same Fergie that sent Keith
Gillespie down to the bookies to place his bets
16th January: Despite Houllier’s constant,
artless attempts to blame the World Cup for current
difficulties, kudos must go to Hamann and Heskey.
Dietmar dismisses the idea out of hand, while
Emile says “a lot of players went and not
all of them have struggled – I wouldn’t
like to just use that as an excuse”. And
let’s be honest here, there isn’t
a player in England who could use a good excuse
more at the moment. May be best to just stick
to Thommo’s line about being “young
and inexperienced”. Just out of curiosity,
Em: how many internationals and cup finals have
you played in again?………
17th January: So a betting “furore” starts
off at Old Trafford and ends up at Anfield – hey,
betcha never saw that one coming? Liverpool being
used as a cover-up for Manchester United? I mean,
what were the odds? Owen is the ‘unnamed’ player
who lost 30 grand in a World Cup card school.
Tony Adams also slyly implies that it was Owen
who was subbed because he’d lost a lot
of money one day and not because he was injured.
You could tell just by looking at him, eh? You
can’t blame him for gawping at Michael
from the stands – since he never used to
get a sight of him on the pitch. How’s
the garden wall demolition business going, o
whiter than white one?
18th January: Gerard stares into his crystal
ball, and sounds like he’s seeing a Crystal
Nacht. “The weaker ones will disappear ……you
need a crisis to sort things out…… the
weak will have to go”. Jesus! Bruno, Bernie,
Igor, Vlad, Vegard, Emile – if you hear
a knock on the door in the middle of the night………
18th January: No doubt Heskey will be spared
after his goal and performance today. SOUTHAMPTON
0 L 1 was a resounding success. It’s easy
to go overboard if you haven’t won a league
game for months, but this was good stuff. Straight
into them from the off, trying to get a second
goal, keeping the pressure on, never letting
the other team settle – one of our better
days, no doubt about it. This certainly wasn’t
the same team that ripped Spurs apart, but I
genuinely believe we should get the credit for
that. Steven Gerrard was excellent, and it did
show just how much we rely on him. Still, let’s
not quibble. Let’s get pissed and celebrate
a win. It doesn’t happen too often.
19th January: Owen’s losses have miraculously
risen to TWO MILLION! Van Shergar opens his ugly
long mouth, and now we’re taking all this
shit? I can’t say I’m not bothered.
Yes, it’s Michael’s money to do what
he likes with, but we think it’s going
on houses, family gifts, future investments – and
not being pissed down a bookie’s drain.
It does matter, because we’re the poor
saps paying £30 a ticket in order for this
indulgence to take place. I doubt it is two million
(it’s in the Sunday Mirror, so I know it
isn’t) but it will be a hell of a lot and
Owen should think about what he’s doing.
If the thrill of risking such amounts wears off
and he bets even larger sums, does he then start
messing the club about for more money or, worse
yet, a transfer? This isn’t just press
scare-mongering. It does matter. And if he’d
bet on Heskey to score yesterday, he could have
got most of his money back.
20th January: Jeff Powell’s still as potty ‘n’ snotty
as ever. “If Houllier made a mistake it
was trying to satisfy the call for more attractive
football…... thus a team he built for counter-attack
went charging forward”. It did?!? When,
exactly? But as we know, Jeff’s not interested
in Liverpool or Houllier or football for that
matter – he just wants to shit on Liverpudlians. “The
very crowds he attempted to please turned on
him for risking too many defeats in the course
of entertainment”. Hey, that’s us – two-faced
and fickle, murdering Italians and carrying bananas
by the ton. Sit down man, you’re a bloody
20th January: But if it’s rewritten history
you’re after, then Powell’s an amateur
compared to Le Boss. “I was happy to deflect
blame onto me and away from my players” – WHEN????
Go on, name a single solitary game when you accepted
the blame for a defeat. I really don’t
know what’s worse – the fact that
he’s saying it or the fact that he’s
expecting us to believe it.
21st January: How to encourage the opposition:
list all your grievances about the first leg,
then say after every single one “I don’t
give a damn about that” or “I’m
not bothered about Sheffield United” or “The
football will be our answer”. “We
will stay humble”………and
we will win the league and the Champions League
under you, too?
21st January: The football was our answer, eventually.
L 2 SHEFFIELD UNITED 0 (3-2) sees us back at
Cardiff, but it was a long hard slog and a very
nervous second half. Owen shone throughout, a
deserved match winner the highlight of a committed
display. I was lucky to see it at all, because
by extra time I’d become entranced by Michael
Brown. Every single exchange with a Liverpool
player saw a late tackle, a flailing arm, a bit
of verbals, constantly failing to retreat 10
yards at set pieces. If he’d worn a sign
saying “SEND ME OFF” he couldn’t
have been more blatant. I don’t think he
was even booked! Managers always look for a player
that personifies their philosophy out on the
pitch. Warnock’s obviously found his long
lost identical twin.
22nd January: And he wasn’t going to go
down gracefully, was he? All this spitting nonsense
with Steph, it may well be true – but if
Neil Warnock told me 2 o’clock came after
1 o’clock I’d change my watch. And
that shit about Henchoz not being English (can’t
pull the wool over your eyes eh?) should be investigated,
shouldn’t it? Don’t hold your breath.
Someone who so obviously wants to be hated has
serious issues to confront. The thought of these
bastards in the Premiership fills me with dread.
22nd January: Tommy Smith is the latest to use
the ‘b’ word. “You can’t
pick one Premiership manager who hasn’t
had a blip in his career”. No, but you
can name two Liverpool managers who went 11 league
games without a win. Don Welsh - and Gerard Houllier.
24th January: Abel Xavier to leave? Sorry, I
forgot he was still here. It doesn’t matter,
as we have so much cover for the right back spot
like, er, the bloke who’s been ill and
hasn’t really recovered, or……… er,
the bloke we sold to Sunderland………
25th January: Sami promises to deliver the title
before his contract expires – in 2006.
Riiiiight, so this 5-year plan of the manager’s
has suddenly become an eight-year plan? Didn’t
they used to do that sort of thing in Russia?
Or George Orwell’s 1984? Still, at least
he didn’t mention the blip! Gerrard could
miss the cup final if we lose tomorrow. He’ll
probably be banned for the derby tackle, so the
next round game or a replay will be part of any
ban. At least we’ll be fully focused on
26th January: Apart from the boss, of course.
He’s more concerned about the luck Arsenal
have had (!!!!!!!) and Sky Sports’ criticism
in the build-up to the Southampton game. He complains
of a lack of balance (never stopped him picking
Em), but his complaints would carry more force
if he himself wasn’t twisting the facts. “Who
apart from Man United has won a European competition
in the last 10 years?” – apart from
Arsenal and Chelsea, you mean? “The team
that plays against Arsenal won’t include
anyone over 30” – but Sami Jerzy
and Didi will be 30 by the Autumn, Steph will
be 29. The actual game, CRYSTAL PALACE 0 L 0,
was pretty diabolical. There we are, on a Nationwide
ground, playing for a draw. For someone who has
been moaning constantly about World Cup tiredness
(he was at it again in this morning’s papers),
you’d think an extra game would be the
last thing he wanted. And seven players in this
side didn’t even go to Japan. Our game
followed United putting six past a Premiership
side: Heskey was our best defender, the Palace
constantly shouted “HOOF!” at us
and we used a late substitution to wind down
the clock. Is anyone else even a tiny bit ashamed
of all this?
27th January: As we expected Chris Kirkland
is going to be out for a long while, for the
rest of the season at least. Not a major blow,
given that Jerzy’s there to come straight
in, but for the lad it must be dreadful. Get
well soon, mate.
29th January: He’s become tired of blaming
the World Cup, although I was actually coming
round to the theory. Just the words “World
Cup tiredness” are enough to send me into
a coma, so imagine how the players feel. No,
we’ve got a new scapegoat today. Francis
Jeffers, esq. “That was the day our championship
hopes disappeared”. Losing to Boro, Fulham,
MU, Charlton and Sunderland didn’t help
either, though. “The players have probably
overcome the bitter disappointment and frustration
more than I have”. Yes, that was the word
I was looking for. Bitter.
29th January: So can we count the goal kick
turned corner as rough justice and move on? I
doubt it. L 2 ARSENAL 2, though initially uplifting,
led to a lot of Red soul-searching afterwards.
They weren’t just better than us, they
were miles better. Their own cockiness was their
undoing in the end, but they were so good before
that. Henry was fantastic, and all credit to
Carra for even getting anywhere near him. We
did fight hard and we deserved something in the
end, but for 20 minutes of the first half we
weren’t on the same planet. That “HOOF” thing
is gonna become a national curse isn’t
it? Like the Pinocchio chant, but it has a certain
truth. Thommo has got a big nose, and we do welly
it. A lot, although I noticed they weren’t
too proud to do it at 1-1.
30th January: This being modern football, no-one
can let it lie of course. Wenger goes mad because “the
ball clearly came off the Liverpool player”.
Your view on events is a thing to behold, it
really is. Would you be interested in donating
your eyes to medical science? Not when you’re
dead, right now. And didn’t Lauren score
in 2000, from a corner that should have been
a goal kick? No complaints then, of course. I
think I dislike him more than Ferguson now.
31st January: But anything you can do etc etc.
Thommo says “we have matched Arsenal”……… yerrrrrrsssss.
And Houllier’s all over Heskey: “I’ve
always maintained his future was as the spearhead
of our attack”. Apart from the 30-40 times
he’s been on the left, of course. That
was somebody else who did that. The pixies at
the bottom of his garden, perhaps.
31st January: How to buy players, Keegan-style. “Insult
the player’s home town, that’s always
a good one”. I suppose it keeps him well
in with his current employers (never too observant
when it comes to crime in their own city, of
course) but why anyone should get worked up by
anything Keegan says has usually been beyond
me. Kevin Keegan is an arsehole, he always has
been. Trouble is, he was also a childhood hero – and
when the giants of your youth turn into pathetic
clowns a small part of you dies inside. Good
luck anyway, Robbie.