Football out of Focus

Posted: December 6, 2010 in Assorted Match Reports, Liverpool FC

Liverpool  3    Aston Villa  0           Anfield (or rather Preston), December 6th 2010

I’m  writing this on a train heading through the snowy hills of northern Britain towards Glasgow, where I have to work tomorrow. I was offered a free ticket for tonight’s match at Anfield v. Aston Villa by a season ticket holder who didn’t want to brave the icy roads, but the worst December snow since I was in the womb is causing a lot of disruption on the railways and I doubt I could have made it to Glasgow in time for an early start tomorrow. So, rather than taking the normal train route from Leeds via Edinburgh, a line which has been heavily disrupted these last few days, I‘ve decided to change in Preston and have timed my journey to give me time to watch the match on the telly in a pub near the station there.

That was the theory. But as you know, I hate Murdoch and Sky so much that I try not to help the pubs pay his bills – I have a policy of trying to drink just one single half pint during a whole match in any pub that pays to show his games.  So imagine my disgust when I arrived just minutes before kick-off, at the Old Vic on Fishergate (where I‘ve watched a televised match before), only to be told I had to spend £2 on a pair of daft-looking glasses to watch the match in so-called “3-D”.  I’d never heard of anyone showing 3-D football on TV before, except as part of one of the worst TV ads I’ve ever seen when Sony were trying to flog posh TV sets before the world cup last summer. They can p*ss right off and stick it up their *rses as far as I’m concerned, and take their “HD-ready” b*llocks with them. I’ll get a new telly if the old one breaks and not until.

Stupid ad, stupid product

So I slid around the icy pavements of central Preston looking for another pub showing the game, but to no avail. Back to the Old Vic just after kick-off. Only one table of gullible idiots, student Liverpool fans it seems, had paid the £2, and a few other stingy old gits like me were sitting around grumbling about the stupid blurred picture and muttering that we’d never be coming there again – in my case this will be an easy resolution to keep.  I have little doubt that this experiment will flop and that if continued, pubs like this will lose money even faster than they already are. Ultimately it’s good that Murdoch and the pubs won’t be able to flog this, an innovation too far, and that more and more pubs won’t be able to afford his rip-off fees; ultimately it’s good that the bubble will burst and hopefully there will be knock-on effects like premier league wages tumbling, etc, etc….good.

In the short-term, though, it was just a right pisser that I had to watch this headache-inducing out-of-focus excuse for a spectacle. Of course most Liverpool fans have been saying that anyway, about most of the Reds’ preformances since Roy Hodgson arrived… but not as much as Aston Villa supporters have, since they were saddled with the diminished abilities of the once-great-but-now-clearly past-his-sell-by-date Gerard Houllier.

So I don’t know if was the blurred picture or the blurred performance of the Villa defence that made Liverpool’s makeshift strike force of David Ngog and Ryan Babel look half-decent. I couldn’t quite be sure because of the telly of course, but it looked like they had both scored within the first twenty minutes. Indeed, I can now use the wi-fi on this train to check the actual facts, and it seems this was an accurate guess – the match reports tell me that Ngog headed Liverpool into a 14th-minute lead as Villa failed miserably to deal with a corner, and Babel added a second two minutes later with a fine low finish. Even without the specs I could appreciate the rare moment of clarity in the 55th minute as Maxi Rodriguez played a visionary one-two with Ngog to add the third goal. But the  most muddled vision of the night was certainly Houllier’s, if he thinks that John Carew and Robert Pires are any longer capable of changing a premiership match, as they replaced Agbonlahor and Albrighton with half an hour remaining. They hardly touched the ball, and it was Liverpool that should have added more goals as several players had further chances.

What is crystal clear is rather than listening to post-match interviews where both these increasingly deluded managers are asked questions about how they can improve their squads in January, we should not have to wait much longer until their squads are improved by their own departures – any match report that does not mention this is incomplete (and none of the ones I’ve seen in the last hour on this train do). By the way, one of those reports tells me that Friedel was “badly exposed” for the first two Liverpool goals, but I surely they mean (ahem, sorry, it’s been a long day) “baldy exposed”? I’ll get me coat – I’m going to need it in Glasgow tonight, if this train ever arrives.


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