A memorable week. Liz Truss was promoted to a top division and relegated in record time – you can take the woman out of Norwich, but you can’t take the Norwich out of the woman. Meanwhile Stevie G has been sacked by Villa and the lettuce has completed a famous double.
A long week of points scoring across two sets of fixtures, and scores amassed in gameweek twelve without the guiding feet/head of Erling so we’re all 30 points down. It was a long week too, stretching from Brentford v Brighton last Friday to two games last night. Leicester were awarded a penalty but it was cancelled by VAR, Vardy clearly dropping faster than a mobile phone deliberately thrown off a boat in the North Sea. Leeds are in trouble, which is nice to see, after a 0-3 tonking at Fulham. Poor Robin Koch. An own goal, a yellow card and then subbed at half time. The worst 45 minutes since Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Special.
Our week saw James S top score with 65 points, followed by Nikita (63) and Dan (57). Sasha still leads the scuffling for October’s MoTM award on 269, with Ben and Chris (265) and Aleksa (260) chasing. By some continuing fluke, Ron continues to sit top of the league on 727 points, with Michael (721) and Scott (706) sweating cobs to keep up.
Sunday saw a whirling game of attacking thrust and counterthrust at Anfield, ignited by City’s disallowed goal. Liverpool’s manager had spent much of the second half cartwheeling down the touchline, beseeching the fourth official or assistant referee like an enraged human wigwam. There was an unpleasant edge at times in the spectacle, and a sense of spite. Football is often my weekend catharsis, a chance to expel all those pent‑up toxins, but sometimes it tips people over the edge.
A 1-0 Liverpool win was played out through a mist of rage. Klopp achieved that rare thing, a tactical triumph in a high‑stakes game. Salah played down the centre as a kind of free radical old-fashioned centre‑forward. Not a false 9 or a real No 9, just a kind of Salah nine, veering about the centre‑backs, chest puffed, legs whirring like a cartoon mouse, and looking utterly on fire.
Haaland didn’t score for goodness’s sake, didn’t have a bad game but just looked oddly like a novice 22-year-old. After 71 minutes Salah scored a simple goal, made by a long punt to the halfway line by Alisson. From there Salah took three touches, the first to nudge himself in front of Cancelo, the second to shift the ball, the third a neat side-footed finish that sent the ball zinging into the net.
There are some malign forces at work that have prevented City side from winning on seven of the eight occasions they have played at Anfield under Pep. The game was a gloriously chaotic affair which could have gone either way but ultimately went Liverpool’s because This Is Anfield, where goals scored by visitors get unfairly and routinely ruled out on the grounds of such pedantic nitpickery as multiple clear fouls in the build-up because somebody staring at a telly 213 miles away has been influenced by the crowd.
I couldn’t see the incident clearly. The two players, Shilton and Maradona, were facing me from behind. As per FIFA’s instructions issued before the tournament, I looked to my linesman for confirmation of the validity of the goal – he made his way back to the halfway line indicating he was satisfied that the goal should stand – Ali Bin Nasser, the referee who awarded Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal for Argentina against England at the 1986 World Cup, is cashing in on his incompetence to the tune of an estimated £3m, with the ball heading for auction next month.
A couple of friends went to Birmingham v Burnley this week and had a rather troublesome evening. They bought cheap-day return tickets, changing at Stafford. The last train home was leaving Birmingham before the game finished, but minor problems of that nature are inconsequential when you are young and carefree, and Vinnie is your manager.
Not bothering with the protocol of train timetables, they caught a train to Hull after the match with the vague hope that there would be a connection to Manchester at Sheffield or Doncaster. Fortunately, there was, with enough time for a refreshing ale in a nearby pub next to New Street before boarding the Leeds train and being somewhat tired and emotional, fell asleep.
They were woken sometime later as it was pulling out of Sheffield, with a voice over the Tannoy announcing the front cars were going to Manchester and the rear cars to Hull. I think you can guess which cars we were in. They duly arrived in Manchester at about 4am, having got a train back from Hull which was ostensibly the ‘post and milk train’. It stopped at every station as it made its way cross country, seemingly dropping off the post and milk along the way. They eventually arrived home in Burnley at 10am.
Towards the end of Sunday afternoon at Anfield, Jürgen could be seen with his arms outspread, a tableau of pathos and disbelief, bewildered to find himself red carded and sent from the touchline. As he stomped away, still barking and yelping and pointing, it was hard to disagree with his look of stunned surprise. How exactly had Klopp managed to last 85 minutes out there?
When will football managers stop believing their own propaganda and pause for a moment of self-reflection? Their snarling abuse of referees is a vile example for the grassroots game. Klopp was charged by the FA for his reaction in Liverpool’s win on Sunday, after shouting in the face of Gary Beswick after a foul wasn’t given. He reinforced his the reputation as the worst, most unpleasant loser and then tries to characterise himself as the genial individual who momentarily loses himself.
The Merseyside Youth League cancelled an entire set of fixtures last weekend to make the point that they are sick of how referees are treated. The FA’s revelation last week that 380 players were banned for attacking or threatening officials in English grassroots football last season passed almost without comment.
Klopp will not like it one bit that Newcastle manager Eddie Howe spoke very well on Tuesday about respect and setting an example and has effectively called him out. Howe’s decision to speak may have been calculated, the latest fire in a new flank of warfare between Liverpool and the Gulf state clubs which Klopp has been happy to open up. Pep will also no doubt be the picture of laid-back sophistication when he is asked about his own conduct at Anfield. Prepare to hear him reflect, in that coolly disinterested way, that this is not a question for him.
Well, it is. Reflecting on how Premier League conduct is imitated at youth and amateur level, referee Peter Walton observed this week that the difference between Anthony Taylor at Anfield and the refs down at the grassroots is vulnerability. There are people who can protect Premier League referees. That isn’t true where amateur football is played. A point which ought to give the Premier League’s managerial gladiators pause for thought and self-reflection and lead to a change in behaviour befitting their influence on the game. Don’t hold your breath, though.
Think I’ll put the soap box in the garage now and debate whether to bring Erling back into my XI. Transfer deadline is 11am Saturday.