You can clearly see Glen Johnson did not get his foot on the ball. Bent’s shot skips just over the defender and hits the red beach ball and deflects into goal. And the culprit is one of Liverpool’s fans.
Steve Bruce should heave a sigh of relief on this one.
Even a lay person not well versed with rules, would be sufficiently at unease when an outside agency influences a match. What prevents the fans then from launching dozens of bright red beach balls? Or from throwing debris that could distract players? It is preposterous that Mike Jones was unaware of such a basic rule.
Rafa might very well have a reputation for being overly analytical but even for him this is a particularly dispassionate reaction.
“The goal changed the game but we made some mistakes and gave the ball away. When we had our chances, we didn’t take them. These things can happen. It’s a bad situation for us that the [beach] ball was in the middle and was influential but again I will say we didn’t play well – that’s the main thing for me.”
“Losing four games is bad but crucial? That depends on the next few games. If we can win two or three games in a row we can be at the top of the table. It’s a question of keeping our confidence, working hard and trying to do better.”
Having no Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres is bad enough but factor in a beach ball undoing a possible draw against a good Sunderland side unlucky not to get a win against Man Utd two weeks ago. Liverpool would be in sixth position albeit in a very early season where dropping a point carries less consequences but given the open look this year might very well turn out crucial. Rafa maybe right that winning two or three games puts them back in contention but if the clubs ahead of him also do the same then the gap remains the same.
At the club itself the economic prospects are dismaying with George Gillett and Tom Hicks looking to end their joint ownership with an eye out for new buyers. The parent company Kop Football Holdings suffered a $42.6m loss for the year ending July 2008. Rafa’s relationship with the club’s American owners have been contentious in the past especially over player transfers and it goes without saying that funds will be harder to come in the future if the club fails to attract additional investment.
There have been missteps with player signings as Glen Johnson for all his offensive prowess has proven less deft with his defensive abilities. Rafa also did not endear himself using Xabi Alonso as bait and then signing a crocked Alberto Aquilani for £20m slated to start his playing career in about two weeks after a long injury layoff. It has left him with far less goodwill with fans.
These words by Rafa do little to galvanize just before a very difficult week for them against Lyons in the CL group stage and then face league leading Man Utd this coming weekend. They may mean a gradual emotional disinvestment from the club. Lets face it even managers are not impervious to the Liga’s seductive embrace.