Liverpool 4 Blackburn 0 - A penalty box fox and normative clocks

Posted by Farman on April 5, 2004, 02:22:01 PM

So, after a couple of frustrating away days, it was back to...err...fortress Anfield, for a meeting with what is an average Premiership side managed by a man whose past represents the best and worst of our recent footballing history.

Marseille confirmed an empty trophy cabinet, while Leicester confirmed that fourth place would not be the stroll in the bowl we all thought back in August (had I been there to write a report I would certainly have made due reference to the 'pint of lager and packet of crisps' performance, reflecting the clubs' respective sponsors, as I had done for Wolves away. Definitely not Calsberg's Finest Export, nor Walkers Sensations).

While the bastard brother of our dearly beloved S*n 'newspaper' worked themselves up over their usual sex/drugs/lies/royals/footballer pick n' mix, the talk around our club was, as usual recently, over the futures of our ownership, manager, and most high profile player. Never a good sign that all is well.

The atmosphere was flat, an acknowlegement that we have a real struggle on to take what should be ours by right, and no hope of competing for greater things. But let that not affect our own duties and responsibilities as supporters of the Redmen on the field. At least the returning Reds Babbel and Friedel recieved warm welcomes in the traditional way.

Liverpool started with Heskey ahead of Baros, Diouf in for Murphy (whose basic distribution skills seem to have returned to those in the early days of his Anfield career), and Biscan (whose error in France and the subsequent award of a penalty left me wondering if I was in Amsterdam rather than Marseille) ahead of Henchoz.

Was the overly warm applause given to Henchoz when he started warming up simply support for a player out of the side or a more sinister contribution of tacit support for his percieved questioning of the manager's tactics and future during the week? Whatever the case, Houllier being Houllier I'd be surprised to see Henchoz back in favour before the end of the season.

Liverpool started the game really positively, and with the Blackburn defence all at sea, it wasn't long before we went ahead. Excellent support play by Heskey on the edge of the box set up Owen, free in space on the left, whose bouncing shot found its way into the far bottom corner via Friedel's fingertips. Mikey's form, though generally excellent down the years, seems to come and go in patches. This was a goal our penalty box fox really needed as we approach Euro 2004 (sic - ref. national press). Sign on, Michael, sign on.

The second and third goals weren't long in coming. Diouf's cross from the right-hand byline found Todd under no direct pressure but with Owen lurking. The Blackburn defender did Mikey's job for him, although the curious lack of celebrations left me wondering if the usually awful Jeff Winter had found reason to disallow it. Two minutes later a sweeping move found Diouf on the right. The ball was played forward to Owen on the edge of the box and his emphatic - and confident - blast into the top corner across Friedel made it three.

With only 25 minutes gone, it was into cruise control. Our own fans remained fairly subdued, no doubt half of them wondering what they were going to do on the journey back home now they could no longer call 606. Blackburn fans, however, were in good voice, as often happens with away fans when they know the battle is lost and instead try to drum themselves up for the wider war. Most neutral observers of Blackburn will have seen that for all Souness' pre-occupation with the playboys and washed-up internationals in attack, it's his defence that really needs sorting. I wonder if Torben Piechnick is still available?

The second half continued in much the same vein, with the Redmen in almost total control. Chances came and went; Diouf made way for Murphy (who, like the otherwise excellent Riise, missed a sitter at the death) and Milan Baros gave Owen a chance to rest his delicate hamstrings (thank God with Euro 2004 coming up etc etc © Tabloid Hacks Nationwide). Baros soon played his part with a quality bit of approach play setting up Heskey to slot between the keeper's legs.

Heskey was having a really good game, which proved yet again that when he's full of himself he's a match for anyone. When the curtain finally falls on his Liverpool career (probably this summer) he'll be remembered, rather like Collymore, as a decent player who never really fulfilled his potential - though for vastly different reasons. Today though his ovation when substituted for Sinama-Pongolle was testament to his performance.

So to the scoreboard fun n' frolicks. All the abuse young Scanlite is getting from quarters who know nothing about him is well out of order. You see, contrary to popular belief, Scanlite is not there to tell you the score and how long has gone. Scanlite is in fact a new breed of technologically advanced scoreboard, specially programmed to give its opinions across not as things are, but normatively, as they should be (so that's where the Lee Bowyer money went...).

Scanlite, you understand, is a fan as one of us, as myopic as the next man. His 9-0 reading was merely a reflection of what the score should have been had we taken the chances that came our way. Indeed, the two-minute delay between Heskey scoring and the score registering was only down to Scanlite checking for offside (he did have a view right across the line you know). Early season 'problems' with Scanlite were not problems at all. At home to Manchester United he went off into a sulk, unable to bring himself to tell us the score, whilst his early UEFA Cup performance was in fact a protest at the fact we should have been in the Champion's League. In fact Scanlite's very being is a reflection of what we should be - take a look at that angry red tone, and the 1970's/1980's style font, a reflection of our glorious heyday.

In the end, even the clock stopped working. The contest was over as far as Scanlite was concerned. With the fourth official waiting at the side to indicate time added on, and big fluffy inflatable balls coming out of the Kop to replace the conventional leather one, Jeff Winter wisely concurred and blew for full time.

A very satisfying win. Just as it should be.

© Farman 2004

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