Today, Reading accomplished something that no other Premiership team has managed this season and put 3 past Pepe Reina. Chelsea and Arsenal combined only managed two.
All great teams must face a smaller, hungrier team that will take it to, and eventually, from them. And you have to say that Reading knew what they were about especially as they were facing a marauding mob that has been laying waste to oppositions’ score sheets. Birmingham managed to stymie Liverpool to a lesser degree as did Portsmouth; but today, Reading did it when it mattered.
I was forced to take a more philosophical look at Liverpool’s first loss, because were I in a less tolerant environment, like Anfield, I would’ve used my shoe to disembowel the only two Royals’ fans in the place screaming in my face.
It would seem that Fortuna and her vacillating nature has found the perfect agent of her whims in the Premiership referee. Liverpool has been subject to both ends of her fickle mercies this year, and this should be looked at nothing more than the inevitability of the swinging pendulum.
Now others, less apt to adopt my Hellenistic sensibilities, might point to referee, Andre Marriner, as the reason for the result. Others might say that he seems to have a penchant for supporting the underdog as he has helped two smaller squads with his decisions (or lack thereof) in the Chelsea/Derby clash and now in the Liverpool/Reading match up. Some of the more imaginative and aggravated amongst us might even claim that this inept and lop-sided play calling is evidence of him hunting for “Big Four’ trophies.
Sonko’s tackle on Torres did see him nick the ball, but it was from behind and it was after he clipped Torres’ back leg. Perhaps more frustrating though was after that non-call, he booked Stevie G minutes later for a similar style challenge that Reading subsequently scored their second goal from.
In this season alone, poorly officiated Red’s matches have seen two attending whistle blowers spend their next scheduled game on the couch without pay. This might have the makings of number three.
Pointing to poor officiating is a fairly easy target for culpability. When his team goes down, any big team manager can and will with all haste point to the incident with crystal clarity, but when whistle-induced myopia benefits his team, the details somehow become nebulous and clouded. And yes, Rafa did bemoan what truly was abysmal officiating, but he put his finger on the real problem. Lack of finishing.
Teams contending for titles shouldn’t have to rely on alms from referees. They should be burying teams with legitimate strikes from legitimate chances. And that is what Liverpool failed to do today. Torres had two chances that should have ended up behind Hahnemann not in his legs and past his post.
This intriguing inability to tuck the ones in that he shouldn’t and fans on the ones that any goal scorer worth his salt would ice with his eyes closed is a facet that has plagued the twenty-three year old’s striking– and confounded fans – all season long.
And then there is always luck. And woodwork. Soething that Reading had both of in spades. The ref had nothing to do with that. That’s more the domain of live animal sacrifice.
And so Tuesday looms. Perhaps a dose of humility is what the lads need entering into the do-or-die situation against Marseilles. Watch us win. By three.