A little human warmth goes a long way

JUST want to concentrate on football”. No honestly, that’s what he said! People have asked on many occasions why my outlook is so gloomy. In reply I give you the extraordinary events of the last month as Exhibits A-Z. I can’t begin to convey how unhappy I was in December, for obvious reasons. It’s equally difficult to measure the fillip from the mauling of Newcastle, but it’s almost as if someone flicked a switch: “Getting too good now, time for a reality check”.

There has only been one factor missing from this cavalcade of chaos: Takeover talk

Kuwait-gate provided another excellent opportunity for battlelines to be drawn within our club, free of charge too.

As each side feeds information to their favourites and idle speculation floods the internet, consolation in our league position diminishes.

From one camp you’re told Hicks’ greed and bewildering belief he can still run this club has now scuppered at least two promising deals. Which is all very plausible, apart from the image of kindly Uncle George battling valiantly against the Texan tyrant from within.

Let’s hope not a trace of them is left after the inevitable knockdown sale in the summer, but they do say cockroaches can survive even a nuclear blast, so my hopes aren’t high. The other camp leans heavily on the highly dubious premise that this club will be obliterated if Benitez leaves, as if we hadn’t already survived the loss of far greater men.

One of his sycophants peddled this absurd drivel about six players leaving immediately if he goes. The manager, so quick to take offence when lies are told about him, is (not so) curiously silent on this issue.

I’ll shed no tears for the departure of Pennant and the refusal to sign Heskey, whoever’s decision it was — but it raised the matter of man-management, or lack of it.

Heskey wouldn’t last five minutes under Rafa. Keane isn’t going to last half a season at this rate. After scoring twice against Bolton he probably expected to be rested, but to not even get on the pitch at Newcastle or the bench against Everton when N’gog did was just spiteful.

Rafa no more considers the feelings of the players than he would the pawns on his chessboard. All fine and dandy when you’re winning, but when it starts to get away from you as it appears to be doing now, that’s when a little human warmth goes an awfully long way.

As for that pesky inconvenience: The Football, we’ve had the pleasure of our neighbours’ closer proximity twice in a week. Joy was unconfined.

It meant the usual chip on the shoulder denials about being a small club and Moyes’ laughable lecture about ‘dignity’. Presumably it’s dignified for a manager to hold the ball and waste time when there’s an hour still to play.

It’s not small-time for fans to sing about another team being top of the league.

It’s not pathetic for a past hero to admit stopping us from winning the league and knocking us out of the cup would be “a good year for Everton”, or for a past manager to still be complaining about a penalty not given 18 years ago in a tie they won! Rafa stamped his feet about Everton’s entirely predictable rearguard action, but given it was our FIFTH draw in six home games he would be well-advised to focus on matters red and not make ludicrous claims about never having done it himself.

Our finishing really has let us down over the years, and if the goalposts were on the sides of the pitch we’d be playing end-to-end football like the world has never known.

We can’t keep relying on Gerrard to rescue us, and if anyone knows what the hell has happened to Ryan Babel, keep it to yourself. I’ve lost interest. It’s probably done a runner with my will to live.

We’ve had a Houllieresque “blip” in each of the previous four seasons, and also a clutch of games where Zonal Marking looks like a plan written on the back of a fag packet. It’s too early to tell whether there’ll be a repeat, but given the current mood you wouldn’t predict anything else.

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up