Young Boys - Euro-Tripper Report

Posted by john_mac on September 23, 2012, 09:12:27 AM

The league cup has been great for Liverpool over the years, we re the most successful club in the competitions history, who could forget the great days in the competition Ronnie Whelan’s equaliser at Wembley, Kenny’s winner at Villa Park, Everton at Wembley and Main Road, Robbie’s goal in Cardiff and that to say nothing of being the reigning champions, the tournament through which we have  qualified for this years Europa League or UEFA Cup to give it its real title.

Given the owners consideration for Kenny’s league cup win last season, I doubt very much that they hold this competition in high regard, I was not surprised that John W Henry did not charter a flight to the Gomel home game to see the hordes of future generations, that he should be building on, swarming around Anfield. That said, should we progress in the tournament, no doubt we will see him in Amsterdam, wonder if he’ll bring his bird with him?

In the brave new world of Sky football with four (or now possibly 5) clubs, Super  Sunday, the Premier League & the Champions League multi-screen, fans of the ‘big four or five’ generally have about as much interest in the UEFA Cup as a rabbi in Christmas, some just see it as a chore, play the kids, is the rallying cry. The UEFA cup has an immense place in the history of Liverpool Football Club, not only did it represent Shankly’s only European trophy but it was also Sir Bob’s first, he tournament saw the change to our post-Heysal ban luck in Europe and was the pride of Gerarrd Houllier’s reign.

What it also gave was an opportunity, in 2001, for a whole new generation of Liverpool fans to travel Europe supporting the reds particularly with the trips to Rome & Barcelona, to say nothing of the brilliant night in the Westfalenstadion. Still for the sky-washed generation, the tournament still represent Thusday night, channel 5, rather than Gary Mac sending Barcelona packing, nestling somewhere between the league cup and the NextGen in the hearts of many of the Liverpool faithful.

Still a trip to a new town in Switzerland didn’t sound too bad when the draw was made and was promptly booked up, with the auld adage, plains, trains & automobiles firmly in mind.  First up Wednesday afternoon was the car, a couple of pints in the Ship n Mitre on Dale Street before being collected at the foot of the tunnel by our Welsh contingent. Another stop at the Holt in Kenny and the four of us where en-route to Gatwick, talking about not much but the state of footy for the entire journey.

Cheap hotel in Gatwick & meet up with the Jersey lads for a couple of pints and Chelsea v Juve in the hotel bar and in early flight to Basel, hilarious to see a fella balddered getting kicked out the bar in Gatwick airport half seven in the morning, don’t know if he got his plane or not but wouldn’t have any wedge on it. Anyway couple of pints in Basel while we pick up the final part of the crew who’d arrived the day earlier from Bournemouth and the last leg of the journey was the train Basel to Bern.

Hotel in Bern right facing the station and full of the usual suspects, and once we can get checked in, we are soon enough looking for a bar. Walked around the corner and found one called Pickwick’s, Irish bar, flags outside and some bad mono-tone singing coming from inside about Maggie Thatcher, fucken shite, avoid at all costs. News of the team was in, no surprises, mainly made up kids and squad players. Maybe more surprising was the press conference the day before, where Brendan has made it clear he doesn’t think he had the squad to compete on this front. Personally think it’s a bit early to write off a competition, maybe the one that we have most chance of landing, certainly a competition we have a better chance of delivering than Sky’s Premier League. I understand the pressure on the manager to aim for champions league qualifying and the riches that may bring the owners, but surely the UEFA Cup is a legitimate target?

Anyway we found a couple of bar’s more suited to my character, ie empty and dead,  where I could do some real moaning, never been cheap this fucken Switzerland gaff, and it was time to jump on the number 9 tram up to the ground. As ever, the thing was fucken chocka and a few of the away regulars there in numbers, the irregulars got binned coz it was too chocka, still they didn’t look that arsed.

Ground had reds all around it, we always seem to have quite a big Swiss following, not sure where that comes from, but there was plenty all around the ground, probably outnumbering travelling reds.

The game itself was sound, 8 goals, one of the strangest own goals you are ever likely to see, solid possession and didn’t get kept in at the end, that’ll do. There were some excellent performances from the youngsters notably Wisdom & Suso, while debutant Assaidi also looked to be decent. I think Borini has had a bit of a rough time so far, maybe he was a bit over-hyped by the manager but to me he looks strong, willing as fuck and, given his age & inexperience, will get better, much better.

Most of the issues the team had were with the older, more experienced players, but it was the arrival of Shelvey, a player who looks and plays much older than his birth certificate indicates, that changed the game and secured the victory. Shelvey does seem to be coming into his own and appears to put height and weight on over the Summer, suspect we’ll soon know exactly how good he is, but clearly highly rated within the club and recently given an extended contract.

I always though that a good win here would put us on the road to the knock-out stages and that is probably why I thought the manager would pick a stronger team in a what was clearly a highly winnable game. Suspect the choice of team had much to do with having Man U and not Reading at home this weekend, either way looks like the manager got it right & I was wrong, hardly a surprise. Some young players gained experience, players got much needed games as well as the confidence that 5 goals and a victory brings, most of all, it puts in a strong position to progress in the tournament if we can win our home games.

The usual suspects around Bern and the night ends with a rousing Irregular rendition of two little boys in the Desperado bar, which had the same clientele that you can find in The Grapes any Friday night.

Some people will see the UEFA Cup as an unwelcome distraction this season, not sure the same people will see it that way if we end up in Amsterdam with thirty thousand plus, but maybe that’s wishful thinking. As it is, Bern was sound, if expensive, the match was about as good as anything we’ve seen away in Europe for quite a while and there was plenty to be positive about.   

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