The new era’s dawning sadly remains in darkness

IT’S mid-September, and the shackles remain in place. Did I say shackles? Try concrete overcoat.

Those who wanted the previous manager to stay have taken to sarcasm like Elvis to cheeseburgers.

To be fair we weren’t handed the easiest of starts, but even a promoted team made life difficult and the new era’s dawning remains in darkness. Maybe they put the clocks forward and no one told us.

We watched last week’s internationals through our fingers. Not that we ever do anything else, our unlucky streak goes back to the 90’s, but this time the bony finger of fate pointed at Kuyt. Everyone else was thankful it could not reach Argentina.

The idiocy of playing a friendly on another continent clearly did not occur to the Spanish FA. Sometimes it’s too easy to blame the coach, and you wonder if Torres has to show up everywhere due to the same cattle truck capitalism Ronaldo suffered before and (scandalously) during the 1998 World Cup final.

He came home in one piece anyway, unlike Reina’s dignity. Mr Reliable has been an impostor of late, but was thankfully back to form on Sunday otherwise it could have been embarrassing. I’m getting ahead of myself, since discussion of St Andrews should be kept mercifully brief. We’d all been having a little fun at Wayne’s expense of course, though some who believe every rumour spewed at them will hedge their bets until one or two of our own players are out of the woods.

Like the MPs claims scandal you assume the press have a longer campaign mapped out. Sooner or later the tabs will run out of Bullethead’s babes and start frying other fish.

For those who find tattle marginally more titillating than rickets there was the return of Houllier to focus on. A Frenchman hasn’t wreaked this much havoc on our shores since William The Conqueror and Villa are the next to be blessed by his munificent genius.

O’Leary, O’Neill, now O’DearLordtakemenow. The Midlanders have done something in previous lives to make the Borgias blush. However I’ve not really been in the mood to sneer of late.

The American debt is now labelled “toxic”, such an apt word for their very existence. Hodgson felt suitably emboldened to call them out and suggest Liverpool will achieve nothing whilst they remain. Strange thing for an employee to say but then the last time things were normal at Anfield Ephraim Longworth was learning his 5 times table.

It smacked a little of self preservation. What, so soon? It’s not like we had much ambition to begin with, yet after he also claimed we are still overstaffed you wonder if even the doom-mongers have downplayed the crisis.

We could afford a karmic giggle at Mascherano’s woeful debut in Spain, but there were lessons to be learned from the bright Hercules approach. Sitting back and clinging to a point for dear life is not always the best idea away from home.

Maybe Roy’s satellite dish was on the blink, as there was little or no sign that we would adopt a similar approach against the far less daunting Birmingham City.

They’ve not lost at home for a year, so there must be some plausible explanation for it. Sadly 4-5-1 seems to be the current operandi of choice for everyone, leading to a lot of negative football around the country.

Yet there was also a paucity of forwards at Goodison and they seemed to have quite a jolly time of it. We have not shown the required intent from day one. True, that’s when Cole took an unusually early vacation and Meireles is not match fit obviously, but there may be pitch invasions if Lucas and Poulsen are seen within 100 yards of each other again. Patience is already beginning to snap.

Torres was woeful and when he eventually found space lacked control and urgency. Everyone wanted his retention to be a sign of better times ahead, but it seems more likely he just couldn’t find the escape hatch.

Johnson also plays like his mind is elsewhere, but you wonder what’s plagued him for months because I can’t remember the last good game he had.

At one point Gerrard’s brain began to bleed from the intolerable pressure of taking it all in, but a point is a point on a ground of rare achievement. At this rate I’ll have clutched enough straw to build a house.

Just in time for the big bad wolf to blow it down…

* Steven Kelly


Lifestyle

IT’S that time of year again as artists, canvases in tow, start to crisscross county borders across Munster and beyond.Art events to put Christmas gift-hunting in the frame

Hannah Stephenson reveals the benefits of swapping garden walls and fences for hedges.Pushing the boundaries with hedges over garden walls

Hannah Stephenson shows you how to create an advent calendar to complete your gardening to-do list.It’s countdown time to Christmas

Coffee comes with many health benefits but some brews can have a negative impact on the environment and on your waistline, says Peta Bee.Caffeine hit: The pros and cons of your daily cup of coffee

More From The Irish Examiner