REDS ONTO PRIDE PARK

December 26, 2007 |

Our lads are up against Derby today. We had our way with them last time, giving them six at Anfield. But after almost stealing all the swag against Newcastle over the weekend they will have their tails up and I don’t expect them to roll over and play dead at home.
I do, however, fully expect to see Xabi in the starting line up today now that he is fit again. He bagged a brace against the Rams last time and maybe he’ll jam a couple more past Stephen Bywater this afternoon for good measure. He wouldn’t want anyone thinking it was luck.
With Rafa’s wheel of fortune bound to turn again today, the tote must offer some of the worst odds in gambling for predicting Rafa’s line up. With a battered Chelsea up against Villa, and Arsenal squaring off against Portsmouth, Rafa must be thinking that a win might get him a couple of points closer to the top contenders should they falter against teams that won’t simply be bowled over. So rolling out the big guns would be the obvious move.
But he has the opportunity to rest some key personnel against the league’s weakest squad. Or does he? He can’t afford to drop a point, especially since Man U is playing bottom-grazers, Sunderland, so that is almost certain points for them. Personally, I think Rafa will get some of his tired veterans off the park for a well-deserved rest in what is a grueling month.
With Rafa’s drama dying down, you’d think it would be “all’s quiet” in the Liverpool camp. You’d think. Crouchie’s frothing about foreign players proclivities for flopping garnered some attention from Jon Mikel Obi’s agents, SEM Group, who asked the FA to probe what they felt were “racist” comments (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-fc/liverpool-fc-news/2007/12/22/exclusive-fa-will-not-launch-racism-probe-against-crouch-100252-20280728/).
Was it silly for Crouch to gob off? Yes. Half of his team mates are foreigners. But the outburst was more charged with emotion than it was racist intent.
In an era of soccer that is rabid about stamping out racism, when the FA flat out refuses to harbor intentions of looking at what are serious allegations they really must be groundless. A pile of bollocks comes to mind.
It is unfortunate that the SEM Group chose to pursue this in the fashion they did. It lessens the impact of what is the most potent weapon against bigotry and hatred in sports when it is invoked in a circumstance that obviously doesn’t merit it. Seeking headlines is fine, but not like this.
Speaking of which, SAF has been quoted on the UEFA website as saying: “we have two very difficult away games at Sunderland and West Ham and then Birmingham at home.” I can’t imagine a more taxing New Year’s schedule than that playing 3 teams that are 28, 17 and 27 points respectively behind them in the log.
Poor guy. Must be keeping him up nights thinking about which of his international superstars he can rest in these games so that another of his internationals can play. I wonder if he carries a couple of extra tenners to wipe off all that excess disingenuity.
In retrospect, though, it might be bad for business if he suggested he had absolutely no respect for his next three opponents. Which I can’t imagine he does. I would love to see Keano give his old gaffer the nod-and-clog combo right before the game as a fine how-do-you-do.

See you tomorrow at you know where. 

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