Pete Sixsmith had a good day out on Merseyside, watching Sunderland play their best football of the season, enjoying some decent ale and admiring the fine sportsmanship of Kuyt and Torres …
The Brucester made the point last night that all the talk would be about Stuart (“Winifred”) Attwell’s performance and/or the looming crisis in Anfield Road, L4 0TH and not about the excellent performance that Sunderland had put in.
So, let me emphasise the fact that this was our best performance of the season, that we deserved to win, that we should have had another penalty, that Gerrard should have been sent off and that the opening goal was damned bad sportsmanship and Torres and Kuyt should go to the library, where a pair of pearl handled revolvers are awaiting these two foreign boundahs.
Our football was excellent and I could not see a weak link anywhere in the team. From our lone goalkeeper to our lone striker, via our various loan players, we looked like a very competent, well organised Premier League side who will prove very difficult to beat – although we appear to find winning a bit hard at the moment.
Let’s start with Lee Cattermole. He has had a tricky couple of weeks after the Wigan game with calls for a public beheading from some less temperate fans. He showed yesterday what a very, very good player he can be. He sat in front of the back four, got forward whenever he could and looked a far, far better player than either Stevie G or Joey Cole.
As did Steed Malbranque , who burrowed away like a small, burrowing Belgian Gauloise smoker and got under the skin of the pedestrian Liverpool midfield, and as did Jordan Henderson, who bossed Gerrard for most of the game.
Jordan is having a great season and is looking about the best home produced player since Mickey Gray. He has boundless energy, tackles well and supports his team mates at all times. He needs to work on his shooting and his set pieces (a lot) and, if he is to be as highly regarded as Stevie G, his ability to elbow opponents in the face and get away with a yellow card.
The other player who stood out was Phil Bardsley. I have been known to utter the odd criticism of Phil with regard to his wayward distribution. I have never faulted him on the score of effort, (as Argus was wont to describe Bobby Kerr in the dark days of the late 60s and early 70s). He tackled tenaciously, blocked bravely and foraged forward whenever he could. He is a very competitive player and I can’t imagine Gerrard taking out his frustrations on him. Welbeck was an easier option for the Liverpool bully.
That they are in turmoil is clear to all. The crowd, and its hardened band of football tourists, was quiet and subdued and only came alive after their equaliser. I felt that we were three minutes away from them turning on their players – if they had, that would have led to a famous victory.
But, credit to them, they upped their game and pushed us back. Bramble got himself in a jam and missed his tackle on Torres and a tired Turner just deflected it into Gerrard’s path. After that, they were stronger and we were hanging on a wee bit at the end.
Two goals at Anfield is a rarity for us. The last time it happened was on my first visit to the capital of wit and music in 1965. George Herd pinched a couple that day and Monty was immense, getting a standing ovation from The Kop, in the days when that really meant something. I stood in the paddock in front of the main stand, a part of the stadium that has barely changed. Indeed, as I walked from where the cab dropped us off to our turnstiles, I saw a stadium that had outlived its usefulness and either needs to be rebuilt or relocated.
That day in 1965, I missed out on the now obligatory trip to the Globe opposite Central Station, with its famous sloping floor and it’s clientele of refugees from Boys From The Blackstuff. The Cains Bitter was ok, the juke box was as brilliant as ever and the long serving landlady presided over her mature customers like a mother hen. She is much more in control than a previous landlord, who was stood at the corner of the bar, drunk, at 11.30am one day, and who was stood in exactly the same place, even drunker, when Mr Peter Horan, my brother and myself returned at 5.45.
Like Liverpool FC, the Globe is an institution which trades on its past reputation in order to keep solvent in a world of Wetherspoon’s and Abu Dhabi billionaires. The Globe will survive but I’m not sure about Liverpool.
Finally, what about Winifred? The Professional Game Match Officials (aka as We Never Criticise Our Own) say the goal was valid and that Winnie didn’t have to make a big production number of the signal. I’ll accept that, but I do find it hard to accept that he turned his back on what was happening. Turner should have been more positive about it and knocked it back more firmly, Torres could have realised that it was being set up for Mignolet and Kuyt could have done what he normally does and blasted it wide. Bit of a cock up all round , if you ask me.
Never mind, bring on United. I have a good feeling about this one.