Saturday, 5 December 2009
The first half of Blackburn v Liverpool was one of the most dismal sporting spectacles I have seen for a very long time. I can never remember making so few notes. Liverpool were dull, disjointed, and so lacking in passion it is hard to believe they belong to the same tribe as Bill Shankly, who took over at Anfield 50 years ago this week.
One moment summed it up. Yossi Benayoun received the ball in his own penalty area as Liverpool defended a corner and he was the most advanced Liverpool player on the pitch. There was no outlet for him to move the ball on to. Every single Liverpool player was in his own 18-yard box. As for Blackburn, they put in plenty of effort but had no bite to their attacks. The only good thing I could say in my half-time report was that at least the lack of excitement meant Sam Allardyce's surgeon didn't have to worry!
Second half was a bit better but the teams had obviously made a pact not to score. Ngog missed a sitter for Liverpool and Rovers went all weak at the knees as soon as they got within 20 yards of Liverpool's goal.
Afterwards Sam told the media that Rovers had played very well and he was delighted. I can understand what he meant. Rovers did defend well and neutralised a team who are above them in the table. Rafa said that Aquilani will play against Fiorentina next week and Torres could be on the bench. They were missed today. One reporter was quite forceful in questioning Rafa about Aquilani's fitness. Had he gone backwards over the last few weeks? Was his original injury still a problem? How could he get match fit if he didn't play matches? Rafa's answers, summed up, were no, no, and we have to choose carefully which matches he plays in.
Another reporter didn't have much luck. He asked each manager what he thought of England's World Cup chances and who would win? Both managers gave him the brush-off (a lot more politely that Fergie would). "Under instructions from my editor," he explained apologetically.
Ewood Park seemed a long way from the World Cup finals this afternoon.
Pic: Jack Walker Stand, Ewood Park