“I… Have Become… Comfortably Numb”

By Aitch

I know a lot of people are getting really excited by what they are seeing.
It’s permeating the fan base like a fungal growth.
It’s seeping between my toes as I speak.
But I’m sorry, I’m just not drinking the cool aid… not just yet.

I just finished watching a rebroadcast of the Norwich game and at 1-0 that game could have gone either way.
Yes Luis Suarez suddenly found himself in an MMA cage-match…
… no… of course he didn’t get the decision… silly…
… yes… the referee’s view may have been slightly obstructed…
… but YES… the linesman had a clear view of it.

Forgetting for a moment that should have been a penalty, potentially 2-0, and them reduced to 10 men…
Norwich actually had 3 or 4 chances to change the game, prior to Luis scoring his and our 2nd.
Ultimately we should really have won that game about 8-1… maybe 8-2…
…but in spite of that, and this is where the blog title comes into play…
… while I thoroughly enjoyed the first 70 minutes of this match…
…I found myself getting really annoyed watching the last 20 minutes.

We started this game in 18th place with a minus 6 goal difference.
Norwich were absolutely demoralized on 70 minutes… their heads were down, their shoulders sagged, they’d given up.
Manchester United would have put them to the sword… so would City, and even Spurs.
… and its not about having a team full of stars or better players or whatever…
… its about an attitude that says, you don’t take your foot off the gas…
… you don’t stop playing with 20 minutes left.
Its about professionalism… and while I’ll concede this is a young team in development, we had pros out there too, and they allowed the drop off.

Consequently… we conceded a goal… making the final score 5-2 instead of 5-1 or greater.
So we finished the weekend in 14th place… with a minus 3 goal difference instead of a minus 1… or zero or a plus… and that matters… or at least… it should.

Am I a moaning bastard? Maybe.
… but that doesn’t make my point any less salient?

Now that’s not to take away from some of the praise that has been quite rightly lauded on Rodgers and the players following the last two decisive wins…
… we absolutely did play some terrific looking football…
… but there was some dodgy stuff in there too.
I reckon Brendan is the kind of guy that would be thinking the same thing, and as such, he’ll have maybe given them a bit of a bollocking at some point about this.
I hope so anyway.

So while I enjoyed the game and the win and everything we did well…
…I found myself annoyed by this “lack of professionalism” on our part, along with some very disturbing lapses in defending that happened early on in the game..
…and along with loving the way we went about beating Young Boys and really playing a more experienced Manc (plus ref) side off the park…
… I’m keeping myself in check.
I wasn’t overly distraught at having been cheated against the Mancs. I normally would have been… but we played so well, outplayed them really, even with 10 men, that it offset the disappointment of losing the game.
…and such has been my feeling after most of our games.
Something to be excited about, some forward progress… yet stymied by something, be it a loss, or horrific officiating, or dreadful errors, or whatever.

…and so… in Floyd’s immortal words… “I… have become… comfortably numb”.
(but to some extent, in a good way at least)
(I hope that makes sense?)

So now to the meat of a matter…

…Goals change games.
… Moments change games.

…and in the same way that moments changed games in favor of our opposition in some recent games, moments occurred in our favor in the last two… but there were additional moments too… potential game changers that will be largely overlooked, coz the outcome was favorable.

“Luck” was harsh to us in our first few league games.
“Luck” smiled on us in the last two games.

… but I want to take a quick look at this whole “luck” thing.

Let’s be clear about this.
There are moments in games where a ball takes an awkward bounce…
…say… off a beach ball for instance.
The bounce wrong foots the keeper and suddenly you’re a goal down in a game you were controlling.
Bad Luck?

… there is actually a rule in the games’ rulebook that clearly states that goal should have been disallowed.
…and it wasn’t.
That is NOT bad luck. That is either officiating incompetence, or clear officiating bias.
It has to be one or the other… there is no other option.

Both linesmen had a clear view of Mulumbu’s challenge on Henderson midweek… assuming the referee didn’t… and it was practically right in front of the 4th official.
(is this the easiest money in sport… aside from 90 minutes of foul language from managers, all you do is hold up a lightboard a few times???)

The foul wasn’t whistled (where the above assumption comes from) and play was waved on for about 90 seconds.
Now there is absolutely no excuse for the two linesmen, and the 4th official, NOT to have flagged, motioned to, or radioed the Ref and said “yep, that’s a studs up to the standing leg tackle mate, think he’s got to go there.”
And it wasn’t like he completely let it go… he actually “had a word” with Mulumbu, so he knew something happened.
The decision wasn’t bad luck… it was just bad officiating… plain and simple… cut and dry.
(of course, it was incredibly “good luck” that Mulumbu didn’t break Henderson’s leg, but that shouldn’t cloud the utter and complete “wrongness” of the decision.)

Was it bias… or incompetence?
… and not just on one man’s part… but on the other 3 men’s part as well?
Which actually gives much, much greater weight to the question.

It is one thing for one man to get it wrong…
… it’s another entirely for all 4 to get it wrong.

Which brings me to Saturday.
Now it was fairly clear that the referee’s view of the foul on Luis Suarez was obstructed.
(and it’s fairly clear that calling it a “foul” is somewhat outrageous, since such an incident on the street would result in jail time for the perpetrator. In fact, in MMA they have an actual patented name for that move. Same in WWE or whatever they call it now. Watch any given episode of Spartacus and you’ll see it a few times, it was one of Gannicus fave moves… but I digress.)
… the “foul” (see wikipedia page describing GBH or Grievous Bodily Harm) took place in clear view of the linesman. He had an unobstructed view of it… he simply couldn’t miss it. Yet he did.

Now its all well and good us suggesting “he should have had a penalty there”…
… but you know what… fuck that…
…Luis should have had a penalty when the Manc defender tried to toe-poke the ball away from him, was just a second too slow, and clipped his foot.
That wasn’t vindictive… uncharacteristically :) for a Manc defender… it was a mistake, an ever so slightly mistimed tackle coz Suarez has quick feet…
… not getting that decision was “bad luck” in that while it was a poor decision by the ref, it wasn’t a clear-cut, stone wall, by the book, obvious decision that he got wrong for any reason other than he just wasn’t quick enough to see it in that moment.
… such incidents happen…
… but the decision at Norwich was either horrendously incompetent officiating, or some sort of clear bias. (…as was the Valencia decision… but again, I digress…well not really… it’s a growing “body of evidence” in support of the argument.)

There’s good luck and bad luck, and then there’s… this other thing.

If its incompetence, then it needs addressing, and that won’t happen while it is masked in the category of “refereeing mistake”… coz those happen, and that’s fair enough… but that is not what the Norwich decision was, not what the Mulumbu decision was, not what the Valencia decision was. (and there should be an “etc.” there.)

It is important that we talk about these decisions as WHAT THEY ARE.

How often do you hear a pundit say “he opened up an extra yard of space for the shot there” …when what the player did was find about a 6-to-8 inches hole to put the ball through?

I’m sick to fuck of hearing commentators say “that was a great cross, he put that into a very dangerous area”, when what he actually did was just twat the ball into a space that was so unoccupied by a player in the same shirt, that his closest teammate was 30 yards away from where he “crossed” the ball, and therefore NOT in a dangerous area.

NO… such a cross is not “great” …when there is clearly nobody to get on the end of it…
… what it is, is a wasteful ball… a needless conceding of possession.

There are semantics… and there’s daylight highway robbery of the English language!
…Coz these things are now part of the collective discourse…
It is no longer just a case of pundits using such banal phrasing…
… these types of things are now just accepted as truisms…
… and its not just numpties you hear talking this nonsense… people who have actually played the fuckin game, and know the difference between being a yard offside and being 6 inches offside, all use this language now…
… like the seeping fungus… (not the Manc manager, ;) but actual fungal growth) it has crept up the trunks and down into the roots of our collective discourse…
… and it prevents a proper discussion of what is really, truly happening in all aspects of the modern game.

…so likewise…
Decisions made (or not) about a blatant, clear cut infringement of the rules of the game… when at least ONE of the FOUR officials whose job it is to manage those infringements… have a clear and unobstructed view of the incident… are not simply “bad decisions”…
… not simply a case of “oh he got that wrong there”…
… NOT simply a case of “bad luck”…
… they are more than that…
… and we need to be talking about such incidents for what they are…
… coz United have won at least 4 titles on the back of such nonsense…
… and we all accept it coz “that’s just the way it is”.

Evil thrives when good men do nothing.
It is time for everyone who loves this game to stand up and say NO… this is fucked up and we’re not gonna take it anymore.
Stop allowing “journalists”, who have no earthly right to call themselves that, to frame the discussion.
If we stopped simply accepting banal punditry… maybe the broadcasters would stop hiring the cunts.
When there’s a backlash for “politically incorrect” reasons, they act… just ask Keys and Gray.
Maybe if we as fans… collectively stopped asking what we could do about it, and actually started discussing these issues for what they are… things would change?
Yeah right!

So anyway… we’ve played some good footy lately…
… I am liking what I’m seeing.
I am honestly… numbness or not.

The kids are looking good, and “with a bit of luck” Brendan might surprise a few people this season…
… I get where the excitement is coming from…
… like a teenage boy who’s just found his Dad’s Playboy collection, I’m feeling the twinge myself…
(guess that’s pretty much a dated reference nowadays huh… should be more like “a teenage boy who’s just found his Dad’s passcode to “naughtyschoolgirls.com” or something?)
…but twinge be damned…
…I’m not getting carried away just yet.

I’m still glass half-full in spite of this statement….
… but we are still giving the ball away an awful lot…
… still unnecessarily conceding possession…
… will still be on the end of “unlucky decisions”… (argh… head explodes)
… and while its great to see, not only, youth given the chance, but youth taking that chance, the season is a long, hard road to travel, to rely entirely on it.

There’s many a slip, twixt the cup and the lip… and we still have a dangerously thin squad… still have senior players who need to step it up… still have only a half-dozen or so games to truly judge what we’re seeing thus far.

We rightfully beat Norwich… and WBA in the Cup… and Young Boys.
The chance to get anything from WBA, or the Mancs was to some extent taken out of our hands.
And both scenarios will continue to repeat themselves as the season develops.

…and so to a sterner test in the Europa League.

The most successful clubs in the history of this competition are: Juventus, Inter Milan… and Liverpool F.C.

For that reason alone, we should be taking this competition seriously every single time we end up in it.

We’ve been drip-fed a fungal rot of “mickey mouse cups” for far too long, and some of our fans are well and truly digesting this fuckin cool aid.
Its got to stop. Its got to stop now.

We lost our “most titles” mantra recently… we immediately pivoted to “still the most successful club in England”.
Thank god we can still say that.
But you know why we can still say that, instead of sitting with egg on our faces as the Mancs chant their number of titles at us?

…Because we’ve won more fuckin trophies in total… and that’s not just the be-all-end-all Champions Leagues…
… its League Cups… and the UEFA Cup… (now the Europa league.)

Win the Europa League this season and Liverpool Football Club will have won this competition more times than any other club.
Do we really need more incentive than that?

And keep in mind that we hold this distinction in the “nobody cares about” League Cup as well… 8 Cups… the second placed team is Aston Villa who have “won it 5 times”.

When time comes to attract players to Liverpool… you can sell them on where you are… you can sell them on where you are going… or you can sell them on where you’ve been.
We can do ALL THREE!
We can…. because even though we might not be playing in the “oh so important” Champions League spotlight…
…a simple wiki search for either of these two “lesser” competitions reveals the name “Liverpool F.C.” listed under the heading “most successful clubs in this competition.”

…Alongside Juventus and Inter Milan…
…Ahead of Manchester United, and Chelsea, and Spurs (who all have 4 LCs)…
… and in spite of two decades without a title…
Liverpool Football Club still has the phrase “most successful football club” attached to it.

This is where we’ve been… but this is also where we STILL ARE!
Liverpool Football Club… Still Relevant… even now!
This shit matters. Cups matter!
Anyone says otherwise, is drinking the cool aid… with a nasty case of fungal growth between their toes.

…and where we’re going…
… well… that remains to be seen…
… but taking the Cups seriously needs to be a part of that.

…so… comfortably numb… but hoping for a wee twinge of excitement Thursday.
…now … what the fuck was my passcode to naughtyschoolgirls again?