Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Gerrard cons referee on night of Champions League surprises...

Let's be frank here, Steven Gerrard conned the referee when he went over like a sack of spuds late on at Anfield last night, in so doing winning his side a penalty and an undeserved draw against Athletico Madrid. The Spaniards' were rightly gutted at the injustice of the penalty award in a game where both teams had more justified claims for spot-kicks.

IF Cristiano Ronaldo had won a penalty in such circumstances we would never hear the end of it, but the fact is, as Gerrard proved last night, English players and the Liverpool skipper in this particular instance are no angels in this respect, far from it.

Sections of the press and many of our numpty fans alike would have us believe that cheating is something that we associate with foreign stars. That notion is complete and utter tosh. The biggest cheat of them all was former Man City and England star Francis Lee ("Lee won pen"), who to this day, holds the record for scoring and winning the most penalties in a season.

I actually believe that as a nation we are dumb regarding our attitude towards winning 'at all costs' because at the end of the day, that is what it is all about, winning. Cheating is part of the game; it's up to the officials to get it right. I have no qualms about calling Gerrard a cheat, because that is what he was last night. By the same token, I see nothing wrong with him trying to earn a point for his team by falling over like Bambi on ice.

We are getting well used to seeing the Scousers take points late on in games, but I seriously doubt their luck will continue throughout the season. They have peaked too soon is my view, they will not win the title or the Champions League; at least that is my gut feeling.

While it came as no surprise to see a dubious penalty award at Anfield, I was pleasantly surprised to see Chelsea being turned over by AS Roma. Mikel will have nightmares for quite some time about that half-hearted challenge that led to one of Roma's goals. Mikel has been poncing around in midfield as if it's his own domain this season, as good a player as he undoubtedly is, I cannot help but dislike him.

It's always nice to see Chelsea being brought down a peg or two; they are not as good as the English media would have us all believe. That said, there's a shortage of really top-class teams in Europe right now, which is why it is possible for even Liverpool to win the competition again.

On a night of surprise results (US election excluded) the biggest shock was reserved for big-mouthed Jose Mourinho and Inter Milan, who were held to a high scoring 3-3 draw by a Cypriot club, Anorthosis Famagusta.

There's been some talk of late that Mourinho might be the one to replace Ferguson when he eventually retires. Personally I'm not sure I want to see Jose bring his brand of 'fear football' to Old Trafford. So what is 'fear football' I hear you ask? That is not allowing your players to express themselves, which is what Ferguson, for all his tactical faults has done down the years, largely in part because he knows no better or different.

While Mourinho has undoubtedly pulled off some great results with his very astute in-game tactical changes, there's a down-side to him and I don't really know if I can stomach his 'me, me, look at me!" self. Though he does bring some comedy value to the table, who will ever forget him calling Wenger a voyeur? And then hiding in the kit-bag in the Chelsea dressing room when he was banned?

It was of course a big night for football, but one result stood out above all others and the quote of the night belonged to a female news-presenter on Sky who said: "...where was you when Barack Obama pulled it off?" Now, that's what I call entertainment...

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