Eyewitness Report: Liverpool 1 - Anji 0
Posted by Harinder on October 26, 2012, 12:31:58 AM
Eyewitness Report: Liverpool 1 - Anji 0
Last midweek European match I attended at Anfield. Chelsea Semi. 2005. We know what happened next. For all the midweekers/weekend matches Iíve been to, none of them post 2005 have been European nights at Anfield. I may have peaked in 2005 with watching us exact a revenge against Leverkeusen, then see Juve turn up and go home just as quickly and then the sublime night of the semi. But no. Here I was as eager as I could be looking forward to another adventure with a manager in his first season at our great club. I had no clues to the team sheet and a little piece of me wanted to see a full strength side even though I knew what would await me when I rock up at Goodison come Sunday. So many thoughts, so many many minutes to mull over them and all this whilst holding 2 large poles and fairly sizeable banner with several onlookers wondering what was going on?
Standing outside the HJC on a slightly cold midweek day wasnít how I imagined such a return. Recalling the previous electric atmosphere and the resonating sound of the songs around Anfield was my memory (other than the result). That is currently an Anfield that turns up when it feels like it. Not as rare as a month of Sundays as some would have us belief but more like a Martin Skrtel goal. A rare treat but something very enjoyable when it arrives.
Oh yes. The Banner. Stoz arrived soon after along with some more volunteers to get the process of preparing the poles and banners going. Cross the road and through turnstile B and the corner of the Kop awaited us. As is always the case at Anfield, an hour or so before kick off can be a rather subdued affair. A bit like the time during a wedding where your the first guests and you know the bride and groom arenít coming any time soon. We began the work to sort out the flags and the holders and to be fair to him, Stoz and the volunteers can be counted on one hand. Now count the banners you know of that exist or have been created. There is a large discrepancy in the numbers Ė itís not a good place to be. We are a club whoís flags and banners are famous throughout the world. We create the designs with such gusto and go off and produce some witty gems but, and I say this with a heavy heart, what is the point if we donít show them? We go the game. Check. We get in a few pints pre match. Check. We sit on the Kop. Check. We help every now and again with getting one of our historic and precious flags out on the KopÖ Uncheck?
We need a reality check in that sense. Itís by no means an easy task and these volunteers deserve a lot more praise than what I am writing here. They donít want plaudits in fairness. They want you and your flags and banners out there. Ask yourself this. Did we create them just to remember them in pictures years later or did we create them with a desire to show a passion for what we call the greatest club in the world again and again and fly them high? If the latter then we know what to do next
Back to the evening. As soon as this huge banner was readied and put to one side I heard Georgeís dulcet tones over the tannoy announcing Pink Floyd and Fearless. Big big grin on my face, I think itís time to show and tell.
Weíve still got 15 mins or so to go. Probably just as well given I needed the help to display it. Iím not the heaviest person. A windy Anfield meant that this banner was ready to push me over and into the first row more than a few times. Just looking up at it towering over us though and I just grit my teeth and fought back. Doc Evil just stood there with a smile on his face unfazed. We kept it up til a few mins before kick off and it is a moment of immense pride that we did. It will be a moment of immense sadness if we donít do this on a regular basis
So what was this match like then? Liverpool vs Anji.
Well not really but then they are their own soap opera really. The money, the bulging pay packets and the enigmatic players such as Samuel Etoío, Lacina Traore and Christopher Samba. Yes, Christopher Samba mofo. The beast of a defender, built like several brick shithouses and err err err a supremo of defenders who went to Anji for the project (cough, splutter). Led by Guus Hiddink and sidekick Roberto Carlos, they rolled into town and checked in at the Hilton. Several floors below me. Iíve never truly understood why our fans congregate near their coaches as the opposition team awaits departure. Cheering them on like giddy school girls whoíve seen their Justin Bieber equivalent, they stand there gormless and gawping. Understandably the very nice Scouse doormen agreed with me that such sycophantic fans need to get a grip and remember itís the opposition. Iím wishing the damn coaches donít start or their star player trips up on the way onto the coach. I most certainly donít want them feeling adulation and warmest regards from Liverpool fans before theyíve even got to Anfield. Anji isnít the first to receive this treatment. Tottenham and Man Manchester City from much earlier this year spring to mind for similar strange behaviour by school girls, sorry fans. Good time to add that once Samba came to Anfield as a striker. Thatís right. A striker. A bit of blood rush to the head of fat Sam and he believed that Samba, on the back of a victory against Spurs, could spearhead another attacking line up for Blackburn back in April 2009.
He did. They lost 4-0
Brendan Rodgers didnít give them such a cuddly cosy feeling. Line up was strong and we could be forgiven for expecting a slightly weaker side with the anticipation of the derby on Sunday at Goodison. Our manager had other ideas which I am happy to say had me grinning like a Cheshire cat. They may have changed the name and format of the UEFA cup but for me itís what it will always be. We love this trophy. Itís in our fabric and we went out today with the intent of giving it the respect it deserves.
And here Iím going to depart from the conventional wisdom of a chronological view of the match. Itís a bit too BBC Sport for me and to be fair I donít really recall matches in the way of ďand then this happened followed byÖĒ. Hereís what I noted when I got a chance
Assaidi speed. Gerrard to Suarez's pass first 5. Gorgeous sweet sweet pass
Movement. Prefer left to right. Assaidi. Hello hello. Weíve got something special here.
Middle. Mmm. 18 yard box fear again or a structural tendency to just stay out of it when the wing speed is at high velocity? Oh hello Assaidi. Again. What? No-one really nearby and you need to shield/hold? Why thank you!
Brad skills. Nifty. Very nifty. Now please donít give us a heart attack with this again
35th min Suarez right. Go onÖ Go onÖempty middle again. This will be rinsed and repeated like a few cycles of a washing machine Harinder. Get used to it
Attacking intent of Assaidi. Downing passenger but an improvement on last season of hiding. Great goal though eh?
Wisdom. Intensely good. Take that Anji. Even Den Watts wouldnít ding dong with you like that.
Team alive second half. Reverse of some other matches. Relief. Real real relief
Anji. White hats. Balotelli hair by Traore. Anji taking the piss or just wanting to have the piss taken out of them? They come from a much a colder climate than Liverpool. Should we give their subs a blanket?
69th min. Compulsory defensive brain fart. Fuck.
Shelvey & Gerrard changing positions. As Stevie tires does this happen or do they do it to mess with peopleís minds? Sahin a bit like a fart that no-one admits to. Silent but deadly! Shelvey may need to borrow glasses from his family. Low and hard... now repeat after me Jonjo.
The Club has run out of the number 5. Daniel Agger was found with an upside down 2 on the back of his shirt. Freaked me out each time I saw the back of him in the first half.
Weíve won. And again itís a scoreline which could have been more emphatic but isnít. Missing striker? Yes we are. We know we are. Do we have the quality to get the goals? Yes we do. We get into the right positions again and again and we try just that one step too far and its gone. Try a DowningÖ early and unexpected. It might just go in (yes Sterling and Assaidi Iím looking at you. You know what you did!. PS I still love you X)
Bar the last 10-15 minutes or so I canít recall Anji being much of a threat. We as a team are learning to concentrate longer. Best exemplified in the last 10 minutes. Anji were having a lot of the ball and threatening. Midfield had lost its shape a little and corrected itself very quickly. We sometimes suffer from not doing that (Norwich away springs to mind). My modus operandi thinking about Brendan Rodgers has been rather simple. Talks a good talk but itís the walking that will hold the most weight. The changes are subtle in our side from match to match but slowly and surely there is a shift from the issue laden start of the season to where we are now. Defensively the leaps and bounds are there to be seen. Andre Wisdom has more than held his own in the right back position and his dogged determination will only make him stronger. Our attack seems to stutter a little and its positional more than anything else. It could be argued that we were saving our legs for Sunday so Iím hoping that if we repeat the playing manner of today and expose Evertonís pensioners (Jagielka/Neville) we take the opportunities.
PS Ė Stevie. Get in the box every now and again when we break. Not just Iíve done it now, might do it again
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