Another week, another three points chalked up for the Manchester sides, as both United and City eased to 3-1 victories against teams from the North East. Forget “Christmas”, you could argue that it’s “beginning to look a lot like La Liga” instead.
For drama this week then we need to look further afield – or “further A(n)field” if you must. After a few decent results (AKA not losing) and some rousing words from Brendan “Top Two” Rodgers, our friends from Scouseland went into the game against Aston Villa in buoyant mood. An easy home victory they thought (so did I, admittedly) but their hopes were soon dashed by Villa’s prolific striker Christian Benteke, who’s made a cracking start to his career in the Midlands, fair play to the lad. Now don’t get me wrong – I hate the word “banter”, but there is something pleasing about how football supporters react to another team’s defeat, particularly when it’s Liverpool. Before the final whistle had even blown, we’d already been subjected to “When Rodgers said they’d finish second, I didn’t realise he meant in every game” and “Soon Liverpool will be in the top two – if you turn the table upside down!” amongst others. Oi oi, proper banter and all that, but you can’t help thinking that Rodgers mugged himself off there with those comments. He’s an interesting man though, I think. He’s turned up at Anfield with “philosophies” and copies of ‘Moneyball’ and talks about possession stats, all of which is in sharp contrast to Dalglish who turned up with a puffer jacket and Jordan Henderson. Who knows what the future holds for the Irishman there, but as one Scouse wag pointed out on ‘606’ the other night, it’s all well and good having a “philosophy” but you’ve still got to defend whilst employing it.
I had about 200 words planned about how Darren Bent was going to escape Aston Villa by having a secret rendezvous with Harry Redknapp and his wife, but I’m scrapping that because A) It wasn’t very funny and B) They’ve just done the Champions League draw, and blow me down with a feather! Real blooming Madrid! Arguably the last team we wanted, but it is what it is so we’ll have to get on with it. Feeling confident about that one? I’m not, but then I never am. It’s an annoying personality trait of mine that I’m always pessimistic. Always. Home to Norwich? “Shit, they won their last game, today ends with a Y and they have Grant Holt!” would be my thinking. Put simply, if football was played solely in my brain, we’d lose every game. My mind is the only place where Jason Roberts is a world-beater, unlike Stan Collymore, who was a woma [ED – THERE IS LITERALLY NO WAY WE CAN PUBLISH THE REST OF THAT JOKE, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!] So listen, I think we’ll lose to Madrid, but the good news is that those games are to be played in February, so I’m not going to worry about them now. Of course, there’s still time for them to pick up some injuries. I’m not trying to say that they’re better than we are, but if Casillas, Ronaldo, Ramos, Ozil, Alonso, Benzema, Modric, Higuain and Khedira could all pick up knocks roughly a day before the first tie we might just scrape a draw.
I’m running out of words, but a quick paragraph on another Spanish heavyweight, the mighty Barcelona. Like others I was sad to hear about the ill health of their manager, Tito Vilanova, and I wish him all the very best and a speedy recovery. Who will take over there in the interim period? Pep gonna come back? Probably, but here’s an idea – why not Messi as player-manager? Let’s be honest, the little scamp has effectively completed football as it is, so why not take on the dual challenge of playing and managing the side? I’d pay good money to see that, and if we’re all being honest with each other we’ll acknowledge that he’d do a better job doing that then someone like Steve Kean would solely managing the side.
It is the 20th of December, and we’re quickly approaching my favourite time of the year – the period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day when I’ve got absolutely no idea what the date is or what day of the week it is either. As such, this will be my last column in 2012, but, God willing, I’ll be back to feed you more nonsense sometime early 2013. Merry Christmas to you all, and keep the faith.