“Send us a sample piece,” said the message. No sooner had I replied in the positive, than all of the things I had had in my head to say, seemed to have melded into an incoherent jumble.
I considered the fallout from the weekends win at Palace, the penalty and Alan Pardew. Watching various ex-pros and commentators on social media, climbing over each other to denounce Christian Benteke going to ground as anything from a crime punishable by a lifetime ban to the beginning of the end of morals in this country (in front of the family stand Christian, think of the kids!), has been a great spectator sport in and of itself.
I can not help thinking that perhaps it is not the place to start, enough people have made fools out of themselves over that in the last twenty four hours and most of them appear to work at TalkSport in some capacity. I thought it was, I thought it was not, fair do, let us crack on with the rest of the week lads because there’ll be something else to stoke the fume next week.
So what then? Where to start? With the weekend still in mind, I will mention something that has bothered me for a couple of months now. This team, from the start of the season – from Couthinho’s winner away at Stoke on the first day – seem intent on making us mere mortals go through the mill as much as possible. They offer crumbs of comfort along the way, City in the league (twice), Southampton in the Capital One Cup, a Wembley final – I can not bring myself to claim the Aston Villa away as any such thing – that was kicking a twitching corpse.
This is a team that has taken us to the last minute time and again this season. Three penalty shoot outs in the Capital One Cup. An FA Cup campaign that went to the last minute of extra time in a replay, after already needing two games to get beyond Exeter City. Then there is the league, off the top of my head that was the fourth game I can think of where we got something from the game in the last minute or later. I originally had five, but it turns Coutinho scored on 86th minute on the first day, it just felt later.
That aside, I have got West Brom at home for a two all draw. You know the one I mean, Divok Origi equalises late on and Jürgen gets it in the neck for making the players stand in front of the Kop to say thanks. I was in the Anfield Road end that day, I felt sorry for the lad and dad sat next to me, they drove up from Bristol just to bin it off as the board went up to say we were getting eight minutes. If you are coming that far, eight minutes is not saving you a lot of time on the way back, you might as well be fully invested.
Next Arsenal came to town in January. I had sacked off a ticket because it was the wife’s birthday originally, but got an offer of another in the middle of her shopping trip to L1. That and a nice lunch and she did not even bat an eyelid. I did not expect that to be the least stressful part of my day. A night of snow and hail, Roberto Firmino gets a brace. Arsenal lead 3-2 going into the ninetieth minute, and then Joe Allen – Joe bloody Allen – assures that wherever he goes next year, we will always have that fortnight in January.
God love the little sod.
Ten short days later, Norwich away. Match of the season. A match that never felt like being lost even when we were three one down. Walking in, we were talking about Steven Naismith making his debut. That and the benefits of a pint to get rid of a hangover, my cousin says it was the five goals that cured him, I disagree and once more digress. That was the day I started to feel like they were doing it on purpose. Echoing the boss’s sentiment that they had to keep us in the stand until the bitter end. Leave if you want lads, but don’t moan when you hear the cheer. Nobody had left that afternoon, and I doubt anyone did against Crystal Palace.
Then of course there was the weekend. As I mentioned earlier, plenty has been said about how it happened. For the purposes of this, it is enough that it did.
With ten league games to go between now and the end of the season, there is a fair chance that the last minute drama will be a recurring theme between now and mid-May. I will take it, I am happy with it to a point. Do not get me wrong, I dream of the days of coasting to three and four goal victories over all and sundry. For now though, this is what we have. It is not pretty, but there is a determination coming to the fore.
There is also the double header with Manchester United, and whilst I would much prefer to batter them into submission on Thursday and put next week beyond doubt, I can easily see that one going an extra half hour at their place.
This seems to be the season that the Reds have decided to do everything the hard way. Enjoy the ride, there will probably be a few more lows before the season is out. But the highs, the Joe Allen goals and the last minute penalties, the look on Pardew’s face and Norwich, bloody Norwich in January, the day that made me glad of the long journey home to savour the entire damn thing. These moments are what keep you going when you are not winning things, lending hope of a brighter future just round the corner. The players will remember it too, it will become muscle memory,
I want the trophies too, but for now at least there is always something to see.