Monday, February 18, 2008

What the fuck just happened?

It only took an eight-hour shift propped up at the Kinsale bar for me to seriously question my team. I've been a Liverpool fan from birth [which seems like an eternity ago now, some 26 years on], and Saturday was difficult, on the verge of becoming a habit.

We've had bad runs before, many of them happening in the Premier League against our biggest rivals, but Saturday? Saturday was a different story.

[Apologies, but I took too many hyperbole pills this morning... let the exaggerations continue]

A home game in the FA Cup, against a team some 36 places below us in the domestic standings: Barnsley, a team with only one away win in 16 attempts this year.

And in front of 42,499 fans, we lost.

Despite an avalanche of opportunities, the lads couldn't get it done, even once Captain Wonderful was summoned from the bench 20 minutes from time out of sheer desperation, a move akin to throwing up the Batman signal or invoking the Nuclear option. Ryan Babel, our most enterprising player, was pulled in favour of perhaps the least enterprising player on our squad, the dour Harry Kewell.

Crouch and Kuyt wasted several opportunities, and as a team, we hit the crossbar twice, had five attempts cleared off the line, and were bested at every junction by a third-string Barnsley goalkeeper who was brought in on loan from West Brom just two days before the game. And then, after an obvious penalty shout was waved away, their captain wins the ball back inside the Liverpool half and scores the winner from the edge of the box.

Disney couldn't have written a more syrupy story if they tried.

So where does this leave us? Where does this leave my team?

This is certainly the worst run I've seen from them since my childhood. I don't remember a more lackluster side since mid-90s, the days of Roy Evans and his "Bootroom Boys". We had the young local nucleus of McManaman, Fowler, Owen and Jamie Redknapp, but they were surrounded by the likes of Mark Wright, Rigobert Song, Phil Babb and Oyvind Leonhardsen. That's when we became the "Nearly Men", winning only a Carling Cup in 4 years of competing, and it's a tag that's become heavy around our necks.

We have enjoyed European success since our last EPL trophy, but if we're being honest, we ARE the Nearly Men. That is our burden, our name, our unshakeable identity. A lifetime of finishing 4th or 5th is what we have to look forward to, and when trophies are already difficult to come by, losing to scrappy minnows like Barnsley doesn't help matters. In this year's FA Cup, we struggled and strained to beat Luton Town, Havant & Waterlooville, and now this.

Never forget, gentlemen. February 16th, the beginning of the end for Rafa Benitez. That's the only way I can objectively look at what happened, to embrace the Buddhist principles of living in the moment and karma, and thinking that some good will come from this unspeakable bad. Rafa Benitez' rotational algorithms and astral projections will prove his downfall, although his unflinching stubbornness and failure to learn from past mistakes are going to contribute.

Even the Yanks are smart enough to see that losing at home to Barnsley isn't a good thing.

Our players are worried, the experts are worried, and I can only hope that any retributions or executions that happen over the next few weeks are swift, bloodless, and decisive.

And we have Inter tomorrow? We have to win that if Rafa has any chance of saving himself, but really: FUCK. Don't wake me until June.

The Stats from Saturday:
Corners... Liverpool 15, Barnsley 3
Goal Attempts... Liverpool 33, Barnsley 11
Shots on Target... Liverpool 20, Barnsley 7
Goals... Liverpool 1, Barnsley 2


The NY Kid said...

Those statistics are frightening.

Geez, at least we lost to ManUre.

Josh said...

that goal cured my erectile disfunction

Bigus Dickus said...

Dont worry Fella. We will hammer Barnsley on Saturday for you. Then you can look really bad!