It’s the old showbiz ethic of “give ‘em what they want” and at Anfield we aim to please. There aren’t many clubs that try to implode on the day of their biggest game of the season.
It was largely blamed on skittish bookies already stung by an amateur scam, and a satellite channel that thinks a match between two European giants isn’t fascinating enough by itself.
Their own Spanish ‘expert’ told them stories of Rafa’s departure were nonsense no matter who’d suspended betting, but that didn’t stop them.
It’s our own fault, of course. So much intrigue and backstabbing takes place here that any idiocy can be believed and dirty tricks could not be discounted.
Nothing surprises anymore, including the match itself. We’re in our element on such occasions; keep it tight, wear down the opposition, take one of your chances and keep it tighter. Thank you and goodnight.
Joy was tempered by the infuriating build-up. Several papers set the tone for the manager’s “audition” at his spiritual home. It does beg the question whether Real fans will care for the fare we’ve been subjected to of late.
Benitez could put the burn in Bernabeu right enough, but are they prepared to stomach that for European Cup Number 10? There’s no doubting the man’s unique talent on this particular stage.
Having wound all Reds up on Wednesday, Sky then offered news of “some exciting developments within the next 24 hours”.
Yeah right, we’re not falling for that again.
But by Friday morning Rick Parry was no longer gargling in the last-chance bathroom. It’s difficult to defend a man who sold the family silver to Uri Geller, but the subsequent entrenchment of Tom Hicks will soon come to be regretted big-time.
The role of Benitez in making the Texan’s position stronger is still swept under the carpet by the Rafacult loonies who get uglier with each passing day. Parry has been accused of so much dastardly intrigue that you expect him to grow horns and a pointy tale to go with his crimson complexion.
The truth is somewhat different but no less rotten. I wrote in this column that Rafa would keep asking for more and more until he was stopped, but that moment looks unlikely to occur any time soon.
Not even after the cowardly capitulation at the Riverside. His name was sung loudly and continuously until Alonso had his brainstorm. Then it was barely mentioned again.
There is an awful schism within our support right now. How could it be otherwise when there are two Liverpools, the European conquistadors and the tired dejected domestic misfits?
Some of what took place was simply inexcusable. Our finishing hit nothing but a brand new low. With Lucas omitted the venom of fans on the brink of despair was directed at the clueless, gutless Babel.
Remember how he, Kuyt and N’gog would make Keane’s bizarre departure irrelevant? One more joke to add to the cavalcade of comedy that is LFC 2009, but we did not find it so amusing.
Benitez was animated almost to bursting point in Madrid, but when Boro (no win in 14 league games) made it 2-0 he slumped into his seat. It took him eight minutes to bring on the hero of Madrid to try and rescue the situation. A third for Middlesbrough looked the more likely outcome.
As Downing tormented Skrtel, with little protection from the game but naïve El Zhar, the manager’s decision to make him right back went from puzzling to bizarre to pitilessly wrong.
I’m told there is more to this than meets the eye, and may become clearer in weeks to come, perhaps even earlier if journalists can provoke the manager in one of his increasingly strange press conferences.
Pockets of our support intermittently sang their own goodbyes to Rick Parry. I’d say such people deserve what’s coming to them, were it not for the fact that we will all suffer the consequences.