All had seemed lost after that shellacking at the Emirates. The thought of meeting them again at Wembley gave one the vapours even if hopeless, puny Aston Villa were to be safely circumnavigated.
Then that nasty bugger Hope gets to work. City made fools of themselves at Old Trafford; somebody then checked their recent record and everybody seems to have missed Oil Club 2 rather stinking the place out of late.
Catchable? Possibly. The Reds still made a mountain out of beating Newcastle’s dunghill, with Dejan Lovren acting as a malevolent spirit strangely desirous to see his season’s rating drop through to the earth’s core.
When even Lee Mason won’t give a sure-fire penalty against Liverpool your ship’s coming in, surely? Then Arsenal began struggling against Reading. With two of their finest Berks (isn’t that what you call them?) racing in on goal near the end, my one lazy eye on the other semi-final suddenly became two jutting out on stalks. Championship ineptitude won out, sadly, the poor goalie confirming Arsenal were returning to Wembley after all.
Ah well, there might be good news emanating from Manchester as everyone traipsed along Wembley Way for the clash of the ex-titans.Nope. City had won by half-time. Thanks, Sam.
Grizzled old relics simmering about semi-finals being played at Wembley kept their counsel as half-and-half Liverpool and Villa scarves fluttered about before them. Let’s face it, nobody is paying us the slightest attention any more.
Sometimes going to football feels like you’re one of those coma patients who wakes up after 30 years and can’t fathom the world or how it moved on without them. I feel like that every week now.
Sterling’s going around sniffing God knows what, and there’s a barely perceptible shrug. “Yeah, so what, ’slegal innit?” isn’t really the response you’d like but, cowed by the idea anyone might think you pompous, it drifts into nothingness and just gets added to the game’s death by a thousand cuts. 200k a week? No problemo.
The day of the FA Cup semi-finals used to be one of the biggest deals of the season. Now they’re spread over the weekend, played at weird times and exploited by some broadband bods trying to corner the market. The media chews through its own tongue with its Premier League obsession and only the prospect of Steven Gerrard’s Dream coming true wakes any of them up.
So all that’s left to do in the end is at least win the damn game and try to decorate dogs’ droppings with some glitter — and we can’t even do that.
There were six minutes of gristly Hope and frankly the rest was one long joke at our expense. Tim Sherwood outwitted our manager. Every transfer from Anfield’s fatal summer did their utmost to drag their current value down to minus figures.
Markovic off at half-time? Again? What did Einstein say about insanity and repetition? Lovren’s shot right at the end sparked murderous thoughts in the multitude.
And there ‘they’ were, all celebrating a win over Liverpool: Sherwood, Cleverley, Given, Richardson, Cole! Joe Cole!
The desperation to crowbar Gerrard into the equation makes you wonder if he owns the deeds to Anfield. One journalist claimed Lucas was perfectly OK on Friday, so make of that what you will. Referencing a final from nine years ago felt a bit desperate, and so it proved. Will a Nightmare Semi-final do you instead?
Mario’s disallowed equaliser wasn’t even close to being correct, so there’s the foam-flecked rant about offside to get through now if you can be bothered. I can’t.
I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand. Yes, that one’s nicked as well. Original thoughts are for winners, and that’s no longer Liverpool territory. Still, cups don’t matter anymore do they? Fourth place matters.
Hey, it could happen…