Firstly the match itself. I found it very hard viewing despite a much improved performance from the 1-1 draw last month. But for a relatively ‘out of character’ error of judgement from one of our few successes their season, Jordan Pickford, we would be inviting our neighbours across the park for round two.
Sadly it wasn’t to be and the all too familiar site of a late goal against us in a derby put us out. It’s time to move on now, collect the required 40 points and prepare for next season. If you think I’m being over cautious regarding the 40 point mark, I would like to point out that should we lose away at Spurs on Saturday, it will be our 4th defeat in a row and six games without a win and although I believe we will be fine, there are no guarantees anymore.
Although I suspect we will be fine.
The more optimistic amongst our fans given what I’ve seen on social media recently is that we can catch Burnley and make 7th place. Depending on your point of view, this is likely to be the poisoned chalice it was this season. Starting the season in July is crazy and given the complaints of some managers about fixture congestion this season, not too popular. More of fixture congestion though later.
When is simulation not simulation? When it’s one of the Sky 6. I and many others said it at the time and it didn’t take long to happen. Lallana went down with much less contact than Oumar Niasse did yet not a whiff of a ban or so much as a peep from the media. The new law was supposed to be about penalising divers not deciding how much contact you should have before ‘going down’. Niasse was fouled and probably could have stayed on his feet but despite the contact he was found guilty and banned for two matches. Lallana went down with, in my opinion, much less contact yet nothing. It’s not about Niasse being banned, it’s about consistency. I think most of us would have accepted the ban had it not been so inconsistent. That both the premier league and media both choose to act like the aftermath of a pub fight in Liverpool when the police have just turned up and ‘saw nothing’ is nothing short of shameful. It appears that being a member of the Sky 6 gets you more than most of your matches shown on TV.
Now to the serious stuff. In order to treat racism seriously, the victim should be believed and treated with respect otherwise we seek to drive it underground. Only Mason Holgate himself, the accused, Firminho and anyone else who heard what went on will know the extent of what happened. The rest of us should trust the investigation and hope that the appropriate verdict is delivered. In a multi cultural Premier League, there are bound to be translation issues and maybe further down the line this will be shown as what occurred. This should however be no defence. What is unforgivable however are the swathes of keyboard warriors who have decided for themselves. Rather than do what both Everton and Liverpool have done by leaving it up to the investigation, they have decided to condemn Holgate for making a complaint. Mason has had to close down his Twitter account due to abuse he received in the aftermath of the game. Many so called fans calling for him to be punished should the allegations lead to a verdict of not proven. To do this would set the game back years and have the effect of making anyone think twice about making a complaint in the future.
The force of the media have also made their feelings known with the Daily Mirror’s back page claiming their own lip reader did not see anything racist, despite some of the incident being obscured. Then came an article in the Daily Mail which heavily criticised Mason for pushing Firminho into the hoardings claiming it could have resulted in a broken neck!
Talk about sensationalism. It seems it’s the first time it’s ever happened in a football match given the way it was written. Monday saw a phone in on the same subject on Talksport, the radio station with more reds than the Russian army. They are just the examples I saw, I’m sure there were more. Funny how none of them saw the sniper in the crowd that shot Lalana after he crossed that 18 yard line though.
Following the busy Christmas period we had the usual moaning (because that’s what it was) about fixture congestion. This year is was Pep Guardiola who was the main protagonist yet he is in the enviable position of being most able to deal with it. I’ve heard many solutions, so here’s mine. Reduce the champions league to ‘champions’ only and the holders, ditch the group stages, put 2nd, 3rd and FA cup winners in the Europa league and make that knockout only. Then and only then can you complain about fixture congestion. But of course they won’t because that’s what feeds their gravy train. It’s not about fixture congestion it’s about money. If you want to ditch FA cup replays then give up your home advantage having declared this at the start of the season. Given the option to swap, you can bet your life they wouldn’t.
Finally, it’s good to see the blues moving in to the blue Liver building, I only wish I could have been around to listen to the red fume on Roger Philips. Jeff from West Derby must be blowing his top. Here’s to the preparation for next season, it starts now.