Monday, 14 December 2015

TERRACE TALK: Liverpool - Don’t Let The Late Kop Frenzy Fool You

Jurgen Klopp said he wasn’t looking for a new goalkeeper. Everyone believed him. Don’t play poker with this guy.

Another home game, another waste of time. Mostly laborious and frustrating, with one up front, always one up front. The same names produce the same antagonism. Benteke got the crosses he supposedly thrives on and did nothing. Milner’s lumbering around the pitch. Two goals conceded from two corners. And Mignolet, well, you weren’t fooled by a late equaliser against West Brom? Really?

This Thursday/ Sunday nonsense is over for a while anyway. Everyone got what they wanted from the Sion match except anyone who had to watch it. Nobody seems to care. It’s accepted now, even by TV companies dispensing fortunes, that with wall-to-wall football comes plenty of zilch.

The Exeter match in the FA Cup was brought forward to Friday night. Obviously Liverpool will put out a second-string, doubling the chances of an upset. Clever old BBC. The fans that’ll want to attend can clearly go fornicate themselves.

We’re not essential, haven’t been for ages, not even part of the equation any more. Away games in Europe were always boring obviously; maybe it only matters now because we get to see them rather than hearing snippets through crackly radio waves from eastern Europe.

An awful lot of football is functional tedium, but the old Leeds chairman who called matches ‘event days’ got it right. People will pay for, and put up with, almost anything.

So now cups are leagues, everyone knows the lemmings will click onto whatever’s screened. They’re suggesting a 40-nation World Cup and still the cash flows.

The wear and tear on players is an afterthought. I’ve never seen a year like this for injuries, with no summer World Cup to explain them. Maybe somebody like Sturridge would crumble to dust if he played once a month anyway, but few teams play full strength for long.

Absentee stars = supporters being short-changed but still they flock in. Of course that’s what squads are for but the amount of players big clubs send out on loan is an appalling waste. Maybe I’ve made a Swiss mountain out of this Sion molehill, but it was merely an obligation/ contractual fulfilment that served no purpose, forgotten once it mercifully ended. Yes!

That’s what I got into football for. Three days later it was easy to believe the Albion game was no different. Pulis is the result-dredger, the survival master and everyone knew it before shelling out for this, this… You’d ask for a partial refund, the time they waste, but they’re the away team; it’s not their job to create and entertain.

Lots of times I sit there, wondering if it’s an old man’s tired disgust with the world as life speeds inexorably out of his grasp. Then a pin drops at Anfield and 40,000 people are startled. It isn’t just me. Don’t let the late Kop frenzy fool you.

Klopp doesn’t ‘only’ have to resuscitate a club, it’s feeling like he has to breathe life into half a city’s raison d’etre, and it’s too damn much for one man to fix though the post-match salute to the fans shows him having a good go. Embarrassing? So what, one step at a time. He’s trying to ignite wet sand.

I read the United column and they’re having the same problem. Perhaps it’s the old guard turning in on itself as newly-minted arrivistes snatch our old toys, break them and turn them into something new and frightening.

More likely it’s the pressure of so many months of accumulated Anfield ennui that’s finally snapped something in my greying head.

The away contingent’s had all the fun this year and they deserve it for their sacrifice and hardship, but it’s about time Anfield saw something special too.

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