Liverpool 0 Everton 0 – Everything but the goal

Posted by Barrettski on February 3, 2004, 06:53:57 PM

Derby Day Reflections

Back in 1933, Liverpool put seven past Dixie Dean’s elite.  The chap who sat next to me in the Main Stand looked like he was at that game and probably every game since.  So when Stevie’s G’s third effort came back off the upright and this auld fella turned to me and said “it’s going to be one of those games son” there was simply nothing I could say.

Gone are the days when the most knowledgeable fans in the world stood on the Kop.  Oh no, they’re scattered around the ground now.  They talk of nights when the Kop was on fire, they talk of flying pigs and when you could actually eat the pies.  In short they’ve seen it all.  Having sat next to a blue for the last couple of home derbies, once again I was in for a bit of a strange experience.

Liverpool lined up with a comforting array of first teamers.  “Of course there never used to be substitutes.  And when there were, we only used about 15 players all season”.  Get used to it folks, his quotes are going to be peppered throughout this piece.  So, Dudek in nets “just a shot stopper for me, can’t control his area like Chris can”.  The full backs were Steve “sound” Finnan and Jamie “has a heart bigger than the Cunard building” Carra.  Sami “nearest thing to a Colossus we’ve seen since Jockie” Hyypia and Stephane “some reader of the game that kid” Henchoz completed the best back four we’ve fielded in ages.

The midfield received even more mutterings.  Stevie “phenomenal” Gerrard sat in with Didi “some Germans are OK” Hamann.  This left Bruno “goals or not, he’s still proved nothing to me yet” Cheyrou, Harry “looks like he’s playing without his brain again” Kewell and Anthony “what the fuck is that on his head” Le Tallec the freedom to roam behind Michael “still two games away” Owen. 

Then there was the team in blue.  Now, you know how everyone gets embarrassed when your grandad swears?  That’s how it was somewhere high above the director’s box.  I think the auld fella was less from the school of closing the curtains if Everton played in his yard and was actually more in favour of going out and belting them.  And I thought I hated Druncan.  Fortunately the cheating little jug eared t*** didn’t feature until late on or I’d have missed most of the game.  The also rans in this tirade of expletives were Pistone (more out of frustration for the make shift job he was doing at centre back) and Graveson who was making an energetic nuisance of himself in the middle.  Strangely, Martyn came in for some praise and Rooney was appreciated too.  It seems talent can sometimes transcend certain barriers.  How enlightened I thought.  But then Moyes stood up and received various salutes, mostly about his sexual preferences but also for playing Rooney out of position.

The game started brightly, although without the kind of venom I was expecting.  Most of that was sat next to me I guess.  Dudek went to smother at the feet of Druncan, Hamann fired a crisp volley in for Martyn to push aside and Kewell made a run or two in between falling asleep.  Harry didn’t look at the races to me and hasn’t done so for a few games.  Concerning?  Apparently not, “Heighway played shit at times too you know”.  So there you go.

More chances followed.  Some came through defensive errors, but some came from an unusual amount of space for a derby game.  I put that down to better than average passing which, lets face it, must have shocked everybody.  Owen flashed one across the goal.  Nyarko drilled one straight at Dudek and only a great block prevented Le Tallec putting Owen clean through.  There were going to be a few goals in this game surely?  Er, no… the auld fella shook his head.  Was there something in the air?  Do goalless draws smell different or something?

At some stage Radzinski made a play to get Hyypia removed from the game.  It may have been clumsy, there may even have been contact but for a faster player to want to go to ground so easily it’s a shame.  There was no free kick or red card.  Not even a yellow for the dive, but referees are more sensible these days aren’t they?

Three Gerrard efforts framed the first half for me.  The first was via a neat interchange with Cheyrou only for our captain to drag it wide.  The second saw Martyn make a wondrous save, tipping over from ten yards.  The third said it all.  Stevie, Martyn and the net were all in line with my seat.  Hit it under him and it was a goal.  Hit it a tad wider and it’s a goal.  But Gerrard hit it near enough to his hand for Nigel to get a touch.  From there the ball snaked away to the post and safety, mostly in slow motion.  With those chances missed, Everton should have gone in to half time ahead.  But Ferguson fluffed a five yard header (read that line again for sheer amusement) and Dudek was equal to a powerful header from some centre back style player.  Maybe the auld fella was right after all.

Ten minutes of half time interlude (five for a piss) provided me with enough anecdotes to fill this page.  The Kop?  “built on cinders originally you know”.  The new ground?  “needs must but I’ll still be wondering round here at five o’clock”.  A french manager?  “it’s about the heart and soul, not where it’s from”.  Graeme Souness?  “he still feels it, just look at his eyes”.  Hillsborough?  silence.

Liverpool stepped up a gear in the second half.  Somehow Le Tallec, Cheyrou and Kewell were either allowed or were creating enough space to operate freely.  Once again the chances came thick and fast.  Rooney should have done better with a run and mid range effort through the middle, Gerrard saw another drive go wide and Owen would have had a prize opportunity had he controlled Kewells slotted ball.  Surely there was a goal coming?  Nah, the auld fella just raised an eyebrow.  Well, higher than it was already given that it was trying to escape his head as it was.

We even had penalty decisions.  Clark handled Gerrard’s cross, but then that probably balanced Cheyrou’s first half netball skills in the area.  Only the Centenary saw that one, except the old codger beside me who winced visibly at the time.

Anfield had once again become a cauldron of noise as we entered the final few minutes, counted down by our art nouveau score board.  The cheat was on and Rooney was off.  Meanwhile, Gerard was happy to keep Murphy, Riise, Traore and Biscan on the bench – a stunning indictment of our problems this season. 

Cheyrou should have scored with a header as he arrived late in the box once again.  I guess you have to be there to miss them though?  Except that “Shankly never believed that you know.  I bet he gave the lad a roasting when he got back in the changing rooms”.  Fair enough.  But Shanks would have loved to see Jamie Carragher defying all expectations and logic as he skipped down the left wing for, not one, but two near match winning efforts.  The first was a 20 yard screamer that Martyn could only tip over.  The second saw him dance through a forest of blue to hit an early shot that was bound for the corner.  Surely the headlines were writing themselves here?  Even the auld fella was on his feet.  But no, Carra’s shot didn’t nestle in the corner where it belonged.  It was turned round for another corner.  “That was it” said the old man, “the last chance”.  I think he was toying with me all along.  In fact I never even caught his name as he hustled off on the final whistle, presumably to collect the pay out on his 0-0 draw prediction.

I felt robbed at 90 minutes.  We should have won this game in the same way that we should have won the Spurs nil – nil here.  But the misery lifted as the other scores percolated through.  A draw and four points off the blue noses isn’t so bad really.  We’re still eyeing up a May showdown with the bar codes for fourth place.  Our low ambitions must be temporary though; fourth place is only an essential rung on our return to an upwardly mobile status.  Can we do it?  Well apparently “we will if we can keep those players on the bench”.  Harsh but fair I thought.

How the Redman rated

Dudek:  Class shot stopping performance.  But the auld fella is right, he doesn’t command his area.  Ferguson 8 yards out?  How?

Finnan:  Quality: solid, steady defending and great going forward.

Carragher:  Unbelievable, comes back from a broken leg to play like a man possessed.  We knew he would, but add the last minutes skills, this was stunning.  Call Sven.

Hyypia:  Kept Duncan in his pocket for much of the game, but I wonder where so many of their chances came from?  Difficult to see where specific things went wrong.  Might have gone missing for Druncan’s free header.

Henchoz:  Same as Sami.  Although had Biscan played here we’d have been highlighting the errors that allowed them a sniff at three points.

Hamann:  I’m crap at judging what kind of game he has.  Someone else tell me.

Gerrard:  Deserved more from the chances he had.  Looked more likely to score than Owen and covered miles as usual.  World class.

Le Tallec:  Thought he’d struggle in a derby game but the long and short of it is that he didn’t.  No he wasn’t commanding but he did look like a wonderful outlet on the ball.  Always wanting the ball and always finding a red shirt.  There’s more here you know.

New Cheyrou: Continues in his rich vein of form… which of course we’re all hoping is just his natural uninjured self.  Should have scored the header but did enough to begin to balance his early Reds' career debacles.

Kewell:  Some nice touches, but ultimately it wasn’t there.  He’s lost his mojo but only needs to go through the motions to find it again.  Soon would be nice.

Owen:  Miss controlled one, screwed another wide when a cross was a better option.  Credit to *them* though, they handled an under par Michael well.

Kop:  Back on form, but then the M62 was empty so it was always going to be (joke).

Them:  Hope they wipe those seats down for the next lot.

© Barrettski 2004

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