Murphy’s Law decrees that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Sod’s Law is subtly different; bad fortune can be “tailored to the individual”, good may come about despite anything the individual does. In seeking an emergency substitute for the Liverpool “Who are You?”, when circumstances left me facing an empty page, I approached two new targets with tales of Sod’s Law. Luckily, Murphy did not intervene and Keith Conneely*, the second of two “Yes” responses, had already completed the Salut! Sunderland questionnaire (No 2 can be found at this link)…
Salut! Sunderland: Help! We’ve been let down …
Keith: More than happy to do so. Not only would it do me good to vent about the problems at Anfield that are driving me mad, but I’ll always remember that the Sunderland supporters were the first neutral fanbase to support Liverpool’s stance in attempting to urge the Government to release information on Hillsborough, and I don’t feel that you were adequately thanked in that respect. So thank you very much indeed. Such acts of unselfish benevolence between fans of different clubs are few and far between in these days of myopic tribalism.
It has been a season of great controversy, largely unfulfilled promise and some early silverware. Are you happy with the work in progress or worried about the lack of consistency?
I’m very conscious of the usual knee-jerk reactions that fans of all teams unfortunately espouse these days so perhaps a degree of diplomacy is necessary when considering Liverpool’s season so far. I would wholeheartedly agree with Kenny Dalglish having taken the Carling Cup so seriously. It’s beneficial for the notion of an ‘ongoing project’ to win trophies, and it’s also good business for Kenny personally – he can now bargain from a position of power. Cup runs also just breed confidence. However, I find it difficult to accept the notion that we’ve advanced much in the last year, mainly because of the money we’ve spent. Looking at the financial situation objectively, we could be regarded as either ‘unfortunate’ that these players of such promise haven’t fully lived up to their potential yet, or it could be fair to suggest that the signings were somewhat unambitious and even unnecessary in places – we were crying out for fast wingers on both flanks; a left back; and a creative influence up front. We signed Stewart Downing when, by all accounts, we regarded Juan Mata as merely a ‘back-up’ plan in case Downing’s deal didn’t go through; and we only managed to secure the left-back signing of Jose Enrique the day before the season started. Then there’s Charlie Adam who was the media darling at the time but who everyone could see should be a bench player at best at Anfield. To date, Adam, Downing and the raw Jordan Henderson have made the most Premier League appearances for outfield players at Liverpool and this feels more like Kenny trying to prove himself right than for the team’s overall benefit. Granted though, some of these players have been forced to play due to injuries to other players, but I’d question why Kenny feels the need to play many of them in odd positions, or in odd combinations. All-in-all, I feel that the lack of consistency IS worrying but I’d question whether, after last summer’s transfer window, there was very much genuine ‘promise’ among anyone but the most delusional of Liverpool supporters (of which we sadly have quite a few).
What lengths have you gone to in order to follow the team, whether in stadiums or by distant means?
I live in Ireland so unfortunately the expense of travelling to watch the team has become a serious factor. Also, demand for tickets has seen me have to resort to somewhat drastic measures. For example, I’ll be going to our match against Wigan at Anfield later this month and I was forced to buy 2 corporate tickets for a total of 277 euro, and all this before I bought the flights. Not to mention the 42 expensive phonecalls it took to actually get the tickets (this is true – not an exaggeration).
Describe your night when Liverpool came back from 0-3 to beat AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final
A load of my Liverpool supporter mates and I watched the game in my football-HATING mate’s house in Dublin. I remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror at half-time and just surreally laughing at how badly things were going. It was like a nightmare – you spend your whole life dreaming of this moment and then your team let you down. Then, 6 minutes of madness in that 2nd half turned the whole thing on its head. The bloke who owned the house had watched the 1st half with us but he missed our goals in the 2nd half because he was out. We wouldn’t let him back into his living-room because it was clear that he was a jinx. I remember very little of what happened that evening after Shevchenko missed that penalty in the shootout. All I know is that I didn’t go into work for over a week and I couldn’t afford proper food until I got paid again because I had spent a FORTUNE on alcohol.
Who are the greatest players you have seen, or wish you’d seen, in Liverpool colours and who should never have been allowed near them?
Greatest Players Ever in a Liverpool shirt (in my opinion): John Barnes, Steven Gerrard, Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler, Xabi Alonso, Peter Beardsley (sorry Mackems!); Players I Wish I’d Seen in a Liverpool Shirt: (Aside from the entire current Barcelona team) Marco Van Basten, Zinedine Zidane, Pep Guardiola, Ronaldo, Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov (sorry – all really obvious stuff); Players I Wish I’d NEVER Seen In A Liverpool Shirt: Pretty much anyone who Roy Hodgson signed. I f**king HATED Christian Poulsen more than any Liverpool player I’ve ever seen.
What, apart from the victory over Milan, have been your highlights as a Liverpool supporter? And lowest points?
My 30th birthday fell on the week that we beat Real Madrid 4-0 at Anfield, Man Utd 4-1 at Old Trafford, and then followed that up by beating Aston Villa 5-0 in the Premier League. Considering I’ve been a Barcelona supporter for over 20 years, and that my best mate is a Villa fan, then I think this week ranks as a personal highlight. I also always remember not just the amazing 4-3 games against Newcastle in ’96 and ’97, but more the way we played football back in ’96. I loved that Liverpool team – even with Neil Ruddock & Mark Wright, who were/are tw*ts. My lowest points as a Liverpool supporter are an odd bookend: the Souness years and the Hodgson months. There’s not much that can test your support more than the prospect of Administration, but having to watch the S**** that Hodgson played was a proper challenge.
Does anyone spending £35m on Carroll need his head testing?
Yes. 100%. He was never worth that much and he never WILL be worth that much. Unfortunately, all the money we could conceivably have spent on psychiatric treatment for the guilty party has all been spent on Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson.
What did you make of Liverpool’s handling of the Suarez Affair?
I’m in an interesting position here when confronted with that question. Personally, I feel that Liverpool were right to defend Suarez, but they did it very poorly. I’m conscious that the question didn’t ask me if I felt Suarez was guilty or not guilty. I’m purely saying that Liverpool were played from the start by various people/bodies and that the club’s reaction was a defensive lash out at a number of assaults that they felt were unfair. I feel that a cooler, calmer, quieter response was necessary and this is where they failed. Nine times out of 10, the player denies the charge and, in the face of zero evidence, the player gets let off the hook. The minute Suarez accepted that he’d said something to Evra, it was never going to be easy for him, regardless of the ‘cultural differences’ line. But again, I feel that this could have been handled better by Liverpool, whose legal team chose to accept the FA’s linguistics expert as opposed to appointing one of their own. Liverpool’s PR and Legal departments dropped the ball. However, for me, this is a situation in which NOBODY came out looking good – from Suarez and Liverpool; to Evra and United; to the opportunist tactics of the FA: to the scapegoating media at large; and more worryingly, to the opportunism shown by every single anti-racism group that saw their moment to make a name for themselves.
What is your view so far on Jordan Henderson?
He looks overawed this season but I love his attitude and I’m sure that he’ll become a good player for us. He reminds me a little of how Lucas was when the pressure was on him. He just needs to be played regularly in the correct position and we’ll see the best of him.
Sunderland were the opponents for my first ever Cup Final as a Liverpool supporter back in ’92, so I’ve always had a special place for them. The old Roker Roar and John Byrne, who I think scored in every round of the FA Cup that season, except the Final. There’s always been a big Irish connection there obviously. Niall Quinn is seen as a bit bland by many people in Ireland but he always seems like an honest bloke to me – a rare commodity in modern football. O’Neill has the midas touch and I’d be patronising if I said I was happy about that. Sunderland are a genuine threat to our league position at the moment and it’s really night and day compared to how you were performing earlier in the season under Bruce. I hate when we play at the Stadium of Light. We’ve got a decent record but I just find the place intimidating – I always think that 3 points there is a huge 3 points. Hopefully there won’t be any beachballs at the game at the weekend. ( See also Keith’s comments in answer to the first question … – ed)
What will be this season’s Premier top four, in order, who will go down and who will win the major trophies (“we’ve already won one” not being an acceptable answer!)?
1: Man Utd; 2: Man City; 3: Spurs; 4: Arsenal. Relegated: Wolves, QPR, Wigan; CL: Barcelona. FA Cup: LIVERPOOL!!!! (I actually reckon it’ll be a Merseyside derby FA Cup Final, but that’s probably just wishful thinking)
And where, if not already mentioned, will our two clubs finish in the league?
I reckon we’ll edge 5th or 6th place with Sunderland in 7th or 8th. Your mates the Geordies have had a good season but you guys have sneaked up on us all with an amazing run of form since December and that momentum could be telling in the last couple of months of the season. Just adds to the importance of our game against you at the weekend.
This has been the Eduardo Question but has also been named after Walcott, Barton, Osman (Everton) and could easily be the Gerrard Question if certain non-Liverpool supporters are right: what is the form of football cheating – diving, feigning injury, penalty box wrestling etc – that most annoys you and what would you do about it?
As much as I love Luis Suarez, I find the unnecessary histrionics when he gets fouled totally unpalatable. So yes, the ‘feigning injury’ thing would be a problem for me. I actually don’t mind so much when players/managers do the ‘imaginary card-waving’ thing – it’s just funny and I don’t feel that it influences the officials so much. But fannying about on the ground pretending that your leg is broken not only wastes time, it also worries the supporters into thinking that there might actually be something wrong. Not to mention the ‘boy who cried “Wolf!”‘ element to it.
Club vs country: who comes first and why (whichever “your country” happens to be)?
Club 100%. International football is purely an excuse to get drunk.
How will you keep tabs on the Sunderland v Liverpool game and what will be the score?
I’ll stream the game and I reckon it’ll be a draw – 1-1. I’d have had Sunderland down to win 2-0 but I think that Sessegnon and Catermole will be missing for you, so it depends on whether our midfield can take advantage of that or not. If so, then we might nick something. So OK – here goes – I think it’ll either be 1-1 or 2-0 to us.
* Keith Conneely on Keith Conneely:
I’m a 32 year-old graphic designer from Dublin and I’ve supported Liverpool (and Barça) since around 1990. It’s naturally p*** easy to say that I’m a Barça supporter these days whereas it’s been ‘tough love’ with Liverpool since Rafa left. But my love for both clubs has always been unwavering. I set up a general footy blog a couple of years ago but haven’t really kept it going. It was mainly just a collection point for funny football videos and the odd opinion piece. Lots of rude words. Have a look at it if you’re bored, it’s just a bit of a laugh. Here it is: http://redcardfooty.wordpress.com/
Interview: Colin Randall