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From David Ginola To The Modern Day French Revolution

8 years ago
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Excuse my French, but on Saturday I found myself experiencing an episode of Deja Vu. Only the location differed.

This time the venue was St James’, not Anfield. It was the teamsheet that gave it away. I saw that we were fielding six defensive-minded players. I knew I had seen this before somewhere, Dabizas playing in midfield if I remember rightly.

As far as the game went, the whole thing just got worse and worse. The tactic failed miserably, as it had done the first time.

However, in the first coming, there had been something of a revival brought about by the Newcastle players knuckling down and dragging themselves back into the game despite being 3-0 down at half time. This went on to become the second of the 4-3 defeats to Liverpool in 1997 which the Sky TV mob will never let us forget.

The tactical failure in this first half of the story was a result of the lack of positive thinking of the manager at the time. He failed to follow the attacking mentality of his predecessor who, in home matches, used the delight and encouragement of the crowd to keep the team surging forward to such an extent that many thought they were ‘unplayable’. These fans and players carried the same enthusiasm with them to away grounds all around the country, making the club everyone’s second favourite.

A Liverpool website put it like this:

‘But a heavy first-half humiliation – initiated by the current possessor of his (Dalglish’s) famous number seven shirt, Steve McManaman – was too much too bear for the Geordies who believed they were witnessing more than just the end of their own title dream.

Their side’s craven surrender also marked the internment of the last vestiges of the romance and bravado the original Merseyside icon Kevin Keegan brought to the game. A year ago he brought a side brimming with attacking instinct and excitement to fully contribute to the game of the season. This time his pragmatic successor took a niggardly view, lining up with a miserly 4-5-1….

Such pessimism invited punishment and when McManaman and Patrik Berger scored in the space of 70 seconds midway through the first half, followed by Robbie Fowler’s 24th, the £60 million pre-season favourites looked dead and buried.

The visitor ripped off a shirt no fans wear with greater pride, jumped over the barrier at the Anfield end, ran down the touchline and flung it with immense symbolism at Dalglish.

…there is clearly dressing room dissent, articulated by unsettled Frenchman David Ginola, and they showed a defeatist attitude that was unprecedented in Keegan’s reign.’

Deja Vu or what?!!

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