White Hart pain was nothing but a circus

OOKAY, now it’s our best Premier League start. Of course that’s only making me worry all the more.

Unusually I spent a few days in the chilled zone last week. Losing to Tottenham in a meaningless competition somehow managed to get an indecently large number of Reds in a right old flap.

You can’t go there, make 10 changes and expect cohesion. I’m not even sure you can demand much effort — selection for these games is like a horse’s one-way ticket to the glue factory.

I passed comment about Pennant weeks ago and his absence from White Hart Lane confirmed his imminent departure. He may be followed through the trapdoor by a few more judging on this ‘performance’.

Fans argue about anything and anyone, but our old chum Dossena’s achieved the impossible and created a consensus. The only debate involves whether he is the worst player ever to wear red. Rafa himself clearly favours Aurelio now, but that’s hardly Sophie’s Choice is it?

Implausibly we nearly clawed our way back thanks to the pitiful Gomes. We are a cynical bunch, and after seven minutes of treatment you’d expect a player stretchered off to receive a smidgen of sympathy.

Not when he’s taking our only chance of a comeback with him. He was ‘miraculously’ fit enough to humiliate himself further at Fulham three days later, affirming that his pride had taken the biggest blow not his head.

Shed few tears for the paying fans that witnessed this drivel. Benitez never takes this cup seriously. Besides, with goals, a clear-cut penalty denied and a clown in goal they got their money’s worth. Bit expensive for a circus, but there you go.

Games like this are as much a part of supporter folklore as glittering nights of triumph. I once visited Selhurst Park six times in a season, and only saw four matches. My friends often mention the two games rained off an hour before kick-off. Scars of war, we call them.

Chelsea fans feeling humiliated by Burnley should know we feel your pain. It happened to us in 2005, four months later we were in Istanbul. The rough, the smooth, you have to take it all.

Like a trip to the Reebok. Horrible place. I hear the odd Scouse taunt on my travels. Mostly I tune it out and concentrate on football – but being called an in-bred? In Bolton??

After the second goal they stormed a private box behind them after someone presumably had the temerity to cheer. This wasn’t a brief skirmish mind; it went on for five minutes and a few raced twenty rows upwards to get involved, much to everyone’s bemusement.

Had our notorious lack of killer instinct not resurfaced they’d have all probably left by then because it should have been a walkover. Instead our perpetual profligacy gave that tiny yet somehow still-shrinking ditch digger Megson a chance to evoke his whining Evertonian past. He’ll no doubt be intoning their “Ifitadanabinfer Liverpool” mantra soon as he cashes his latest severance cheque.

They have this “Cheat!” yowl rehearsed, the drummer in their end never missed a beat and fired it up regularly. That ought to tell you a lot about Bolton. Allardyce still haunts the place.

I bow to no man in my hatred of Rob Styles, but on certain days you can’t help but sympathise over the thankless task they have. Bolton foul and foul and foul, knowing the referee can’t blow for everything, as he’d need oxygen every five minutes. They make Stoke look like Brazil 70.

Kuyt continues to ram all of last season’s criticism down various throats, mine included, the fortuitous retention of Alonso’s services continues to pay dividends and even on Gerrard’s aimless days he can produce the moment of magic to win games.

Torres gave an edge to our play that Keane for all his intelligence lacks. You can find the best positions on the pitch, but without the pace to exploit them the job is only half done. That could be the only thing that will hold Keane back at Anfield.

* For information on Steve Kelly’s “Rotation Rotation Rotation: a season at Anfield”, visit www.ttwar.net

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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