(incorporating Tsch! The Modern Game! State Of It! dept.

„Anfield was full for the second leg because Shanks convinced everyone it was a massive blip,” notes Cormac O’Malley. „Jesus, imagine how many would turn up these days if a side lost the first leg 5-1?”

Europa League: the Everton perspective: „I see that Liverpool have followed their tried and trusted template from the glory years in Europe and quietened the crowd early doors. Not by playing keep ball at the back for twenty minutes, but by getting knocked out of the only European competition that matters.” That, needless to say, is from professional Evertonian email machine Gary Naylor. Whose opinion I’ll be seeking should Phil Neville be spotted prancing around Hamburg wearing both smile and comedy blue wig come May.

Europa League: the Liverpool perspective: „I’m happy to be in the UEFA cup, sorry, Jiggered About With Even More Than Big Cup Cup,” writes Phil Sawyer, who has been reading his this week like a good boy. „It’s our only chance of silverware. It’s given me some great nights as a Liverpool supporter, particularly in 2001. There’s only one problem, really. If only it didn’t mean that a run to the final will mean sustained and repeated doses of Colin Murray. Mind you, given our form this year, I probably don’t have to worry about that too much.”

The Fog Game: „I am only 22 and so my memory of Liverpool in the 60s is hazy,” begins the tinder-dry Karen Patel, „but wasn’t that Ajax game played in really bad fog? Still, no excuse I suppose if Ajax could see enough to score five.” It sure was played in fog. Will you look at the state of this!

„All the questions have been answered. Tomorrow will be the day for answers.” That’s what Shankly said the day before the game. No, I’ve no idea either. Much good the cryptic chat did him; Liverpool were pasted 5-1. At one point during the game, Shanks wandered onto the pitch under cover of fog to give his players a bollocking. I don’t care who you support, you’ve got to take your hat off to that sort of carry-on.

Roni Levy: It’s the Unirea Urziceni manager’s debut, having taken over the controls from Dan Petrescu, who has done one for Russian side Kuban Krasnodar. Levy’s been to Anfield before, leading Maccabi Haifa over for a 2006/07 Champions League qualifying tie. Liverpool were bloody awful that night, scraping a 2-1 with Mark González scoring a very late winner. As Unirea were better than decent in their Champions League battles with Rangers, Stuttgart and Seville, Levy will be confident he’s got the tools to spring a surprise.

Brandan, Paraschiv, Onofras, Paduretu, Apostol, Frunza, Bilasco.

Subs: Tudor, Mehmedovic, Rusescu, Nicu, Vilana, Marinescu, Bordeanu.

Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Aurelio, Mascherano, Aquilani, Kuyt, Gerrard, Riera, Ngog.

Subs: Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Babel, Lucas, Insua, Degen, Pacheco.

Number of times Liverpool have lost against Romanian opposition: 1. That happened in October 1966, 3-1 at Petrolul Ploiesti, though Bill Shankly’s side had won the first leg 2-0 and went on to win a play-off 2-0. Much good it did them, as Johan Cruyff’s Ajax ripped them a gaping new aperture in the very next round.

Number of other ties which involve two sides freshly cashiered from the Champions League: 0.

Liverpool kick off their campaign at: 8.05pm.

Europa League football is: A distinctly low-rent pastime for shoddy, shoddy people.

Ajax. Anderlecht. Atlético Madrid. Benfica. Everton. Fenerbahçe. Fulham. Galatasaray. Hamburg. Juventus. Liverpool. Marseille. Panathinaikos. PSV Eindhoven. Roma. Shakhtar Donetsk. Sporting Lisbon. Valencia. Villarreal. Werder Bremen. Wolfsburg. So it’s not the Champions League. Who cares?

This article was published on at 18.18 GMT on Thursday 18 February 2010. It was last modified at 19.55 GMT on Thursday 18 February 2010.

Liverpool become a Mickey Mouse team in a Mickey Mouse league. Next week: Bobby Zamora v the blogosphere

Read the article on Guardian Unlimited

BILL AND KEV’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE: If Uefa Cup football was good enough for these dudes, it’s good enough for you

(incorporating Tsch! The Modern Game! State Of It! dept.

„Anfield was full for the second leg because Shanks convinced everyone it was a massive blip,” notes Cormac O’Malley. „Jesus, imagine how many would turn up these days if a side lost the first leg 5-1?”

Europa League: the Everton perspective: „I see that Liverpool have followed their tried and trusted template from the glory years in Europe and quietened the crowd early doors. Not by playing keep ball at the back for twenty minutes, but by getting knocked out of the only European competition that matters.” That, needless to say, is from professional Evertonian email machine Gary Naylor. Whose opinion I’ll be seeking should Phil Neville be spotted prancing around Hamburg wearing both smile and comedy blue wig come May.

Europa League: the Liverpool perspective: „I’m happy to be in the UEFA cup, sorry, Jiggered About With Even More Than Big Cup Cup,” writes Phil Sawyer, who has been reading his this week like a good boy. „It’s our only chance of silverware. It’s given me some great nights as a Liverpool supporter, particularly in 2001. There’s only one problem, really. If only it didn’t mean that a run to the final will mean sustained and repeated doses of Colin Murray. Mind you, given our form this year, I probably don’t have to worry about that too much.”

The Fog Game: „I am only 22 and so my memory of Liverpool in the 60s is hazy,” begins the tinder-dry Karen Patel, „but wasn’t that Ajax game played in really bad fog? Still, no excuse I suppose if Ajax could see enough to score five.” It sure was played in fog. Will you look at the state of this!

„All the questions have been answered. Tomorrow will be the day for answers.” That’s what Shankly said the day before the game. No, I’ve no idea either. Much good the cryptic chat did him; Liverpool were pasted 5-1. At one point during the game, Shanks wandered onto the pitch under cover of fog to give his players a bollocking. I don’t care who you support, you’ve got to take your hat off to that sort of carry-on.

Roni Levy: It’s the Unirea Urziceni manager’s debut, having taken over the controls from Dan Petrescu, who has done one for Russian side Kuban Krasnodar. Levy’s been to Anfield before, leading Maccabi Haifa over for a 2006/07 Champions League qualifying tie. Liverpool were bloody awful that night, scraping a 2-1 with Mark González scoring a very late winner. As Unirea were better than decent in their Champions League battles with Rangers, Stuttgart and Seville, Levy will be confident he’s got the tools to spring a surprise.

Brandan, Paraschiv, Onofras, Paduretu, Apostol, Frunza, Bilasco.

Subs: Tudor, Mehmedovic, Rusescu, Nicu, Vilana, Marinescu, Bordeanu.

Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Aurelio, Mascherano, Aquilani, Kuyt, Gerrard, Riera, Ngog.

Subs: Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Babel, Lucas, Insua, Degen, Pacheco.

Number of times Liverpool have lost against Romanian opposition: 1. That happened in October 1966, 3-1 at Petrolul Ploiesti, though Bill Shankly’s side had won the first leg 2-0 and went on to win a play-off 2-0. Much good it did them, as Johan Cruyff’s Ajax ripped them a gaping new aperture in the very next round.

Number of other ties which involve two sides freshly cashiered from the Champions League: 0.

Liverpool kick off their campaign at: 8.05pm.

Europa League football is: A distinctly low-rent pastime for shoddy, shoddy people.

Ajax. Anderlecht. Atlético Madrid. Benfica. Everton. Fenerbahçe. Fulham. Galatasaray. Hamburg. Juventus. Liverpool. Marseille. Panathinaikos. PSV Eindhoven. Roma. Shakhtar Donetsk. Sporting Lisbon. Valencia. Villarreal. Werder Bremen. Wolfsburg. So it’s not the Champions League. Who cares?

This article was published on at 18.18 GMT on Thursday 18 February 2010. It was last modified at 19.55 GMT on Thursday 18 February 2010.

Liverpool become a Mickey Mouse team in a Mickey Mouse league. Next week: Bobby Zamora v the blogosphere

Read the article on Guardian Unlimited

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