Pete Sixsmith gave Anfield a wide berth. He therefore missed Kenwyne Jones’s impression of a young boy trying one-on-one shooting practice for the first time, a first half of decent passing and movement and a deeply disappointing second-half surrender. There were harsher assessments at the Blackcats forum: Andy wrote: “Were you to conduct a straw poll of United and Liverpool fans, they’d probably vote us the worst side they’d hosted this season.” And Gordon pointed out that not many teams had lost at Anfield recently, adding: “And few have offered such a pathetic challenge. We were absolutely awful.” Pete makes what he can of it …
I have to admit that I am writing this Soapbox as a fan who was not at Anfield, did not watch it on TV and, apart from 10 minutes in the car which culminated in Fulop dropping a Kelvin Davies-like clanger, didn’t listen to it. So I am in a perfect position to comment on the disappointing result that came out of the home of the plastic Scousers.
Not a great TV football watcher, I do not have a Sky dish due to a difference of opinion with Mr Murdoch and his ilk. I had a couple of invitations to go and watch it and could have listened to it on Radio Newcastle, but prefer to keep away from games that I can’t actually see.
So, I went to watch a Northern League game between Darlington Railway Athletic and Crook Town on a night that gave a passable imitation of a monsoon. It wasn’t a bad game, Crook winning 3-2 thanks to an unfortunate own goal near the end.
The evening was interspersed with texts from Abu Dhabi, Houghton-le-Spring and Livingston with encouraging words like “calm and controlled”, “looking steady” and “kj missed a sitter”. At half time the mood amongst my three texting chums was quietly optimistic and the feeling was that we could hold out for a point.
As the RA full back planted a neat header past his own goalkeeper, the mobile started buzzing. You know it’s a goal and you want to look but you dare not in case it’s bad news. It was. “Went to sleep at back”, “sloppy defending” said my correspondents and you kind of knew that the game was over.
Back in the car, Nick Barnes described the splendid ovation that Cisse got from the Kop and as I left Darlington for the Great Metropolis of Shildon, Nick described a dreadful error by Fulop and Benayoun headed in. No escape to victory from here.
The general consensus was that we had put a good shift in first half, but were not really with it for the second. Intense displays in successive games are hard to produce and we didn’t.
It was not an unexpected defeat and neither were those for West Brom and Portsmouth. The games on Wednesday are important – we are bound to slip back a little what with the Smoggies playing Harry’s bunch of mercenaries, but hopefully not too far.
The next two home games are vital. Six points would virtually guarantee safety, four would be acceptable, three barely so. Any less would be worrying, while a zero return could be catastrophic. Now is the time we find out about the qualities of our players and our manager.