It’s Sunday morning. The British summer has taken a vacation of its own. Today’s news headlines are dominated by gruelling stories of flooding and an Atomic Kitten held hostage. As the kettle boils a sudden thought crosses my mind ‘“ 20 days until the new season. That is 20 days closer than the 80 day wait following this year’s Champions League Final defeat. Nevertheless, 20 whole days.
Rather than force myself to endure a dosage of cricket, I begin the annual tradition of selecting a dream team. Immediately I pronounce, ‘˜No Mancs and no bluenoses’. This last phrase is said without contemplation. By now, it is routine. Why waste thought?
But when one considers the criteria, the reasons, the necessity for such thinking, is when it really hits home. Liverpool and Manchester United do not get on.
The same can be said of the two Merseyside rivals. But in 2007, the hatred between ourselves and those led by Sir Alex Ferguson is fierce, unrelenting and actually quite frightening. Those who believe in God must have rejoiced when the pair avoided a European Cup showdown last May. Purgatory upon earth would be the correct description had that particular Olympic event unfolded.
But why is the animosity so staunch? Truthfully, it goes far beyond the fact the respective sides are England’s most successful. Taken into account must be the cities themselves. Residents of each, by no means totally, but generally, fail to get along with the other. Then there is Ferguson’s desperate torment to eclipse the likes of Shankly and Paisley. Seriously, the Scot must go to bed each night with those five European Cups stapled to his mind’s eye. To this day, he chases the shadow. Make no mistake, that is the reason we have not seen his retirement.
On our part, there is the jealousy of United’s Premiership dominance. We were the team to be reckoned with. We were, as the great man put it ‘“ ‘˜a bastion of invincibility’. But that slowly crumbled.
A difference of approach is also detectable. Those that ply their trade at Old Trafford tend to hunt the glitz of soccer, hence the big commercial revenue and vast sums of wealth.
At Anfield though, a family tradition remains. This is why the boot room continued as long as a Paris Hilton charge sheet, why Anfield has remained so compact and why we go about our business in a decididly humble way compared to our piers.
Throw in the cheekiness of Robbie Fowler as well the irritance of Gary Neville, and you begin to grasp why this fixture ranks alongside Celtic-Rangers and Barcelona-Real Madrid.
To discover that one Gabriel Heinze is determined to seek a move up the East Lancs. road is then startling. Argentines are notorious for their toughness but honestly, this particular transaction would take guts to the extreme. Paul Ince did it, via Inter Milan, but was never fully made an honouree Kopite. Danny Guthrie has done it, yet most people’s ignorance of such means little magnitude exists in this case.
Acceptance from what could potentially be his new faithful is anything but guaranteed. In a way, this would be like Tony Blair attending dinner at George Galloway’s. Or … for our non-political readers, Cheryl Tweedy shopping with Charlotte Church.
On a neutral note, Heinze is a fine defender. His rugged, uncompromising style suits the Premier League superbly. It is a mystery in fact, how he has lost his place in the Manchester United team.
So, do Liverpool need him? At left-back John Arne Riise appears to have hired a body-builders’ trainer for the summer. The Norwegian looks lean and mean for the upcoming campaign and will be very difficult to dislodge. Below him in the pecking order is of course Fabio Aurellio, a player displaying real signs of potential before his horrific rupturing of the achilles.
What could play into Heinze’s favour though is his versatility. Aside from starring as a full-back he can also take-up a role at the heart of defence. Unfortunately for him, attempts to remove Jamie Carragher would be as fruitful as the guy from the Mr. Muscle ads lifting the Houses of
Alongside Bootle’s finest is Daniel Agger, fast becoming Rafael Benitez’s best signing. Therefore, Heinze would pretty much be in the same boat, only in a better pond.
What is endearing though is a seeming determination to push the transfer through on his part. Tying Fergie’s knickers in a twist also provides great hilarity.
Calling in the lawyers is never simple, just ask Carlos Tevez. It does though outline an unerring intent. If this man wants to play for Liverpool as much as it appears, he should be welcomed. Let him fight for his place and the appreciation of his public.
With or without the Copa America finalsit, the prospects for the upcoming campaign are good. 17 days everyone, 17 days.