I have to say that I REALLY enjoyed last Saturday despite the fright they gave us in the last twenty minutes. The desperation to win it oozed from every pore from the Liverpool fans – even those making an attempt at bravado had that haunted look behind the mask of nonchelance.
Both teams had to win this game – both Liverpool and Chelsea have under-performed this year and the FA Cup would have gone some way to paper over the cracks. Chelsea also needed to win to provide a firm standing for the Champions League final – a loss would have been a less than perfect mental preparation for Munich.
Liverpool needed this game to try and salvage what little remains of Dalglish’s managerial reputation. It’s hard to see an idol fail – it’s one of the reasons that I always feel very uncomfortable when we are linked with past favourites – you know that invariably it will end badly – because nearly all managerial appointments eventually do. The best you can hope for is that before it reaches that parting of the waves point, that there have been some highlights and successes too – can’t really say that one Carling Cup qualifies for much of a success, especially for a club of Liverpool’s previous standing.
Of course, the recent bad feeling between both sets of supporters also made this a must-win game and it is heartening from the blue side of the fence that the win on Saturday makes this our 7th Cup Final win….on a par with a certain club that bangs on about history (read success). In fact, as it stands, Ashley Cole on his own has as many FA Cup wins as Liverpool…..
I know I should be a gracious winner but we all know that had Liverpool won that Cup Final we would have had it shoved down our gullets so just give me this one column to vent my spleen and have just a bit of fun at their expense.
I see that it went largely unreported that the Liverpool fans booed the national anthem – I’ve heard a number of reasons why they do this and I’m sorry – but not one of them stacks up. Don’t sing it by all means – but to actively boo and jeer is pathetic. I bet those same people booing take advantage of many of the things that England has to offer – free education, free healthcare, dole money…..
And another observation on the self-appointed best fans in the world. I would say that less than 200 stayed to watch their team go and collect their runners up medals – their end was virtually empty – what kind of support is that?
What did make me laugh though was the flags. As soon as it was made public knowledge that there would be (horror of horrors!!!) plastic flags on all the seats, the Liverpool message-boards had virtually exploded in indignation “don’t they know we are Liverpool – we DO NOT wave plastic flags! – it is not the Liverpool Way!” – they were going to boycott them, they were going to snap them in half, they were going to organise groups to get in the ground early to remove them all before the other Liverpool fans got in etc …..
None of that happened of course – and there are some lovely pictures of Liverpool fans energetically waving those little old plastic flags.
I shouldn’t mock really, as I too think that this sort of thing is contrived and a bit cringeworthy but they are just flags at the end of the day – save your indignation for the extortionate ticket prices, £10 cup final programmes and scandalously low club ticket allocations, or for the loss of the traditional 3pm kick off at the TV companies bidding – there are so many worse things infecting our game.
For me, watching my team lift the FA Cup still sends shivers down my spine. I know I too often hark back to the time where we were little more than relegation fodder, but that really does make you appreciate success all the more. To have seen us lift this trophy four times in 6 years is literally astounding! When we won it in 97, I honestly thought I could die happy.
A word too about Di Matteo – this really was a testament to him – what he has done for this team in his short tenure with us has been nothing short of remarkable. Controversially, I still do not think he is ready for the full time job (yet) but I think that he has earned a position with whoever does take the hot seat – ideally as a Number 2.
This has really been the proverbial roller-coaster season and although it looks as though we may fall short in the league, we have a chance to make this a historical season never the less. It’s been a long time coming – we were (for those that like their history) the first ever English club to qualify for Europe and we have been so close so many times. That stage for immortality is all set for those that are worthy….Munich awaits.