Liverpool 2 Newcastle 0: A Game of Thrones
Liverpool 2 Newcastle 0 Monday 13 April 8pm
Goals: Sterling 9 Allen 70
I should be absolutely transparent upfront on this, and clarify that I was unsure whether to agree to write up this match, as I did not go to the game.
Before you judge me harshly, historic versions of the old (paper) Mag will verify that I have paid my dues many times over, with eleven trips to Anfield behind me. Of these, Shola Ameobi’s end of season strike brought us a 1-1 draw some ten years ago, and the other ten were all defeats of varying degrees of misery.
With two small kids at home, the away travel is more restricted than it used to be, but to be fair, Monday night kick-offs have always been a sworn enemy of the travelling fan, and this never would have looked particularly appealing.
However, like many of you, I just was not interested in this trip at all for more obvious reasons, with the gutless derby debacle being the latest in a long series of illustrations that Carver’s sorry crowd of underachievers are not worthy of our support.
So, like many, I was at home for this one.
Further to that (and this is where I might start to look a bit shoddy) the televising of this game clashed with the most eagerly awaited TV event of the year in my house, with season 5 of Game of Thrones premiering at around the time the second half would be starting.
I decided on a strategy whereby I would watch the first half and then decide what to do, either a) persevere with the match if United had decided to turn up, b) abandon United completely at half time if the game was a hopeless cause by then or c) give the second half 10 minutes then watch GOT without the adverts.
Happy with this level of flexibility, I settled down at 8pm.
At ten past 8 I considered jacking in early. Sterling walked through the defensive non-tackles in what was hailed as a brilliant goal but owed much to the weakwilled opposition. This set the tone for a sustained period of total battering from Liverpool, with the home side failing to capitalise despite United seeming unable to venture past halfway. Krul managed to prevent game over with an outstanding instinct save from Lucas’ bullet header and I started to consider switching to Sky Atlantic early.
Then, gradually, strange things started to happen. First Abeid smashed an unlikely chance straight at Mignolet, then Perez forced a save with a looping header.
In between chances Perez also had his legs cynically kicked from under him by Lovren, in the box and right in front of the referee. However, as with the identical situations against Southampton and Man Utd at home, an incompetent official denied a clear penalty.
I don’t know how long it will take football to catch up with other major sports and take these big decisions by TV instead of granting this power to these oafs, but it’s already 20 years too late. Half time came with us having had a decent ten minutes.
I was still there for the second half starting, with Game of Thrones recording. For a bit it looked like a different game as Newcastle enjoyed their best spell of possession. Alarm bells soon started ringing though, as a Taylor error presented Sterling with a gilt edged chance that was shockingly missed.
No matter though, as Mike Williamson was on hand to bungle the ball out for a corner then stand there like a plank as the ball bounced off him for Joe Allen to score. Game over and I switched over to Westeros.
The opening of Game of Thrones saw a catch up with the Lannisters and a flashback look at some secrets from Cersei’s past. A quick check of Twitter meanwhile told me that a lot of people don’t feel very well disposed towards Mike Williamson.
We then caught up with Tyrion and Varys following their arrival in exile in Pentos, Tyrion enjoying a drink as he does. Twitter then told me that Sissoko had been sent off for a stupid tackle, possibly not the only person reaching the conclusion that they wouldn’t be there against Spurs on Sunday around this time.
The game petered out as some poor sod was getting his throat cut in a brothel in Meereen and I watched the rest of the episode without constantly checking Twitter.
So, overall more terrible sh**e from United despite the stirring ten minutes both sides of half time showing better promise than anything from the Sunderland game. The hardy souls in attendance once again made their feelings rightly known, with the signs building for an ominous/memorable day on Sunday.
Having written this, it’s only just occurred to me that the whole thing for me was an unintentional metaphor for supporting Newcastle at the minute. The draw of loyalty is still there, to attend, to watch, to desperately follow results, but it is becoming more of a chore, with something more appealing always hovering.
Whether this is watching Game of Thrones, going to the pub, playing golf or just spending a bit of quality time with your family, it seems that the lack of ambition at the club is influencing more and more people to turn their back to varying degrees.
Quite how that manifests itself in the near to mid-future remains to be seen, and is in the hands of everyone affected.
These are the key stats as provided by BBC Sport;
Possession was 38% Newcastle and 62% Liverpool
Total shots was 10 for Newcastle and Liverpool 14
Shots on target was Newcastle 3 and Liverpool 6
While corners was Newcastle 6 and Liverpool 6
(Player ratings totals below from fans so far, add yours and then press submit)
Team: Krul, Ryan Taylor, Janmaat, Williamson, Anita, Colback, Sissoko, Abeid (Armstrong 75), Obertan (Gutierrez 67), Cabella, Perez (Gouffran 86)
Unused Subs: Elliot, Ameobi, Sterry, Riviere
Ref: Lee Mason
You can follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf
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