Thoughts on Liverpool-
The Reds thorough beatdown of Manchester United at Anfield last Sunday sure was glorious. The sounds and songs that emanate from the stands there are awe-inspiring. I didn’t know until recently that “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is a Rodgers and Hammerstein tune, made famous in the UK by Gerry & The Pacemakers 1963 version. The sing-along before the United match was goosebump inducing. What an incredible atmosphere! Last week, a co-worker was telling me about the Beatles related tours in Liverpool when it occurred to me that I couldn’t care less about those, even though I’m sure they’re cool. If I’m ever in that city, I’ll be walking (never alone, of course) directly towards Anfield and the Shankly Gates.
I always hear people talk about swagger in American sports–then they point to some boring, soulless mercenary like Lebron James as an example. But damn if Luis Suarez hasn’t finally made me understand what true swagger looks like. Dude unapologetically handballed his way to hell and hateful wrath in the hearts and minds of an entire continent in Uruguay’s already infamous quarterfinal match against Ghana in the World Cup, last summer. Liverpool secured his services from Ajax in the January transfer window and Suarez repaid them by immediately scoring a goal in his first Premier League match. Then he strolls on the pitch against United and absolutely abuses Rafael and Michael Carrick with some mesmerizing, stylish footwork and control, before sliding the ball to Dirk Kuyt for a tap-in. It was one of the sweetest plays of the season, in any league. Lucas and Raul Meireles also deserve mention for excellent midfield work in this match.
On the other hand, the whole Carragher/Nani incident had an element of unease and farce to it that marred what was an otherwise great and highly spirited Liverpool performance. I think Carragher’s tackle was definitely reckless and might have merited a red, but Nani’s anguished protest run after the initial contact lent the whole thing a really bizarre tint. And in case anyone thinks that I’m exclusively an unsympathetic United hater, I actually like Nani as a player and I was bummed to hear that he’d be on the shelf for awhile; the whole thing was just strange.
Then I watched Liverpool’s match against Braga yesterday in the Europe League without Suarez in the line-up and it was like somebody yelled “Last Call” and switched off the lights (the absence of Stephen Gerrard obviously had something to do with this as well). There wasn’t much to see from the Reds in the first half. Andy Carroll was very impressive in the second half, though, and his introduction into the match gave Liverpool a jolt that made them resemble, at least passingly, the side that thumped United. The Reds ultimately lost 1-0 to a decent Braga side that also gave Arsenal problems in the Champions League. It was certainly an interesting week on Merseyside.
1. Drew covered the second leg of the Arsenal/Barca Champions League, so I’m going to refrain from any Gunner related observations until after tomorrow’s FA Cup tie with United.
2. I’m glad that manager doubletalk/bullshit can be found in every sport and on every continent. I mean, I’m completely convinced Carlo Ancelotti is telling the truth when he says, “he’s not asking Fernando Torres to score.” Makes sense to me. I understand the concept of trying to deflect pressure from a player, but wow–reality has its limits.
3. Decent column by Kevin Keegan on the pressures a side of Birmingham City’s size and stature faces when they enjoy success in a tournament like the Carling Cup.
More soon as I attempt to catch-up on and sort out a month’s worth of Serie A thoughts.