SOMETHING snapped last week. What the hell am I watching here — and why?
Harsh, almost incendiary words perhaps. Knee-jerk, certainly. They weren’t uttered solely because of that narrow, turgid defeat in North London. It’s been ten long years since Titi bore down on goal and finished so effortlessly.
Did this old camel’s back finally snap after entering our fifth straight month of overcautious dross? Or does the problem go further back, at least a decade?
Arsenal may have been struggling but they’re certainly not weak. Their critics scuttle away during winning streaks and reappear cackling when they lose again.
Their incredible pomposity, their self-appointment as guardians of the football flame antagonises many and if anyone wants to remake The Odyssey then Wenger would make a damn good Cyclops.
But I’ve noticed the words ‘Liverpool’ and ‘anti-football’ appearing in the same sentences once more.
We’ve always had a justified disdain for circus trickery but occasionally swing too far the other way. The era of Evans’ frivolous frippery left a nasty scar but instead of letting it heal and trying again it sometimes feels like his successors have chosen to sever the limb completely.
It’s remarkable how many have been conditioned to accept this. Last Wednesday Degen was trashed for going on an overlap which left a gap in the defence. Isn’t that what we want Glen Johnson to do? That no other player sought to cover for him showed what a rarity this surge up field was, and it was entirely out of character in a performance designed entirely to stifle.
When Rafa’s supporters whinge about the relative lack of venom from neutrals for Wenger in his current trophyless state they also unleash a tremendous contempt for Arsenal’s style of play. It says more about how easily they’ve been brainwashed into accepting any old sludge put before them.
They say things like “we have to show grit” and “needs must”. Yes there have been injuries, but why are passing, skill and adventure always the first things to be sacrificed?
Question this and you’re inundated with not so distant memories of 2009. Did we not challenge? Wasn’t 86 points our highest in recent times? Weren’t we top scorers? But ask why we’re currently miles away from that level, and “over-achievement” rears its ugly head. I’ve even seen seventh place referred to as a reasonable expectation! Support the manager by all means but don’t become an imbecile in doing so.
Days after laughing at Evertonians we had that nonsense about Fabregas. All week long lists have been lovingly compiled of this season’s injustices but this is what comes of living on the edge.
Shut the game down, hope to grab something and then protect it like crazy. Such an approach makes you a prisoner of fortune; the same Howard Webb who disallowed a Spurs equaliser a month ago re-entered the bad books in the 96th minute of a game where our team registered three decent attempts to trouble one of the worst keepers in the league, a ploy that had already failed in December with our first-choice team.
We blow in the wind, we’re lucky or unlucky. Had Everton shown the same courage they displayed against Chelsea in the derby, we probably wouldn’t have won it.
There was a period when I pared down my football to Reds only. Watching as a neutral didn’t satisfy me in the slightest. Now I need to indulge in order to see others play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. To be so derailed by the absence of Torres is unacceptable. We could mention Johnson and Benayoun, but it’s not as if they were flourishing before they were injured.
Of course there’s the dusty chequebook to blow on when you want to whip up Distraction Number One. Rodriguez was poor at the Emirates, so the detested Americans took another pasting. Money alone won’t solve this. People just assume City are destined for greatness, forgetting that Chelsea were competitive before Abramovich got there.
Given a free weekend it was easy to scoff at the low crowds, but wait till tomorrow and see if we’re any better. A low gate will be blamed on the fickle and the frugal, but some simply can’t watch this team any longer.
Football in general, and LFC in particular, will always possess the extraordinary knack of blowing away all depressive quibbles in one glorious afternoon.
Lord knows we’ll need one soon.
- Steven Kelly