In a little different View From the Road End, Ipswich fan Tim Sansom reports from a neutral perspective on Saturday’s defeat at White Hart Lane…
Spurs 2-1 Liverpool
It is Sunday morning. It is a dark and grey Sunday morning at the start of November. I can see the house prices falling outside, and there is nothing on the TV, apart from cheesy children’s television, or preachy religious TV. You wish that there was a decent old movie like The Great Escape or Gone with the Wind, than a repeat of last night’s X Factor.
It is the Sunday after last night’s Tottenham versus Liverpool game. I always jump at the chance at catching live Premiership football. It was the first time that I had even been to White Hart Lane, and although I wanted to tick this ground off my 92-club list, I wanted to check out the 2008- 2009 vintage of the Liverpool Football Club first team. I have a lot of time for the reds.
I know more Liverpool fans then any other supporters of a Premiership team, and the recent victory at Chelsea had sent my friends into a footballing dreamland. I have been getting screaming text messages, reflections on the last time the Liverpool won the Division One title, and the weirdly happy sight of my friend’s office door, with the Premiership league table proudly pinned with arrows and exclamation marks.
On this Sunday morning, I wanted to write about the fluid nature of the Liverpool football team. This is a very pretentious statement, which is merely about how I believe that Liverpool’s attack is so much more this season. When the reds on the attack does not just mean balls from Gerrard to the strikers, or screaming shots from Gerrard that sends the kop into bedlam. I wanted to sit, watch, and enjoy this new Liverpool, and I was able to enjoy that action for most of the first half.
The Reds did not break into any sweat during the first half. I texted the friend at half time to say that this was a training routine for Liverpool; that exercise where you shimmy around a load of plastic statues and take a shot on goal. Whilst watching Neil Ruddock drawing tickets from the raffle box like a National Lottery caller, I believed that Liverpool could be a complete outfit this season, even without Fernando Torres.
Liverpool could have been 6-0 up by the middle of the second half, and then it began to go slightly wrong. I presume that it was a case of facing an opposition that was abject in many areas, and when you spend ninety minutes opposing rubbish, you start to crumble to that level. However, when your manager substitutes your striker for Ryan Babel on a off day, your shape crumbles like a tower of Jenga bricks.
We all know what happened next. The match took on an air that Spurs could nick all three points. The home faithful had woken themselves up from baiting Darren Bent at every opportunity and moronically booing Robbie Keane every time their former hero touched the ball. Aaron Lennon began to perform his magic on the wing. Two goals were scored, and the final whistle blew. There was delirium in the home end, and the singing had stopped in the away end.
Too many players that I had hoped to enjoy, did not really meet my high aspirations. Ryan Babel as an out-an-out striker was such a let down. My hopes deflated like a limp balloon. Yossi Benayoun did his mazy runs but nothing much else in the short time that he was allowed to perform his magic on the pitch.
Steven Gerrard performed his role as the heroic captain, but you can not break down walls with bare hands. He took on the air of frustration, which I experience every evening, when I am faced with a TV schedule that is full of motorway cop documentaries and soaps. Although pleased for the Spurs, I came away feeling deflated about Liverpool.
It is not the first time that I have turned up to watch Liverpool with inflated expectations, and come away slightly disappointed. I am hoping that this match was one of those freaky football occasions when you had the chances and pay for missing them at the end of the ninety minutes, It has happened before in the crazy world of football and it will probably happen again.
This match is not the end of Liverpool’s title hopes, despite the hopeful remarks of some Spurs fans in the snaking queue outside White Hart Lane railway stations. However the match reminds the Liverpool faithful and the club that the title has not been won in November 2008.
I am left wondering whether Fernando Torres is the key to Liverpool’s chances. I have laughed when my Liverpool supporting mates talk in hushed and worried tones when Torres is injured but I am wondering whether Liverpool can not function in a similar way to Manchester United without Ronaldo, or Chelsea without Drogba. A few careful January signings to bolster the side are essential, for the Kop to achieve their title dreams.