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Tuesdays With Roy

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Royschach Test

"I was saddened and certainly angry with our performance because in recent weeks we have shown we are capable of playing good football and we were looking like a very solid and strong unit," he says.

"Well," I say, "I guess that's refreshing. Honest, to the point, and probably reflects what most fans are thinking. Grounded in reality, and all that--which, let's be honest, is a kind of improvement." He doesn't seem to hear me. He never does, at least not until I resort to doing something rash to draw his attention.

"Even though we got back into the game against Newcastle and then had chances to go in front, because of our capitulation at the end I still wasn't happy with the performance."

"Aaaaannnnnddd there it is, ladies and gentlemen. You do know we were already down when we capitulated that last goal, right? The match didn't end 2-1, it ended 3-1. It still would have been a shit performance without that final goal as an exclamation point."

He keeps going: "We let Newcastle back into the game and we conceded a second goal--the like of which you don't want to see as a manager. The ball should have been cleared on at least three occasions before Barton scored."

"Right," I say. "Well, maybe I got ahead of myself a bit there. At least we're back to reality. And it's hard to blame the manager for such a colossal series of individual fuck ups. I mean, a group of eleven randomly selected Premier League players shoved onto a pitch together for the first time ever without a minute of training or match prep should be able to stop that goal."

"Today we didn't produce a good enough performance to win the game. If you want to win a game away from home against a team like Newcastle you have to play at least as well as we did in the first half for the full 90 minutes."

"Oh, shit, I had the defensive screw ups switched around. When I said that stuff about a random eleven doing a better job than our defenders did? Yeah, I was actually thinking of the Nolan goal. The one from in the first half, when apparently we played so well against a tough side like Newcastle. The one where Barton told the stadium what he was going to do on a set play and then the players let him do it. Though you're right, Barton's goal was pretty painful to watch, too"

"There were far too many poor performances" he says, "and as a result that led to a poor team performance. We've had quite a long get-together with the team on that subject and everyone agreed with me that it was a performance way below our best and we can't afford those type of performances."

"And in other shocking and incredibly insightful news that will be news to absolutely no one, I still get throbbing migraines occasionally from when I stabbed myself in the temple with a cocktail sword to get you to shut up."

"We know we have to improve our performances away from home. There is an element of confidence, we can't deny that, but basically I don't think we've been strong enough physically and strong enough mentally away from home."

"Good that you don't deny it, at least," I say. "But damn do you have me bouncing around like a bi-polar lunatic. Maybe we can bring in a psychiatrist for the next time we have a chat and at least I can get some good drugs out of this whole fucking mess--I rather suspect valium would be a solid match for the vodka that usually accompanies Liverpool matches these days."

"If we are going to improve upon our woeful away record it will be because we have become more physically and mentally stronger" he says. "We have to adopt a harder core to our performance and make us harder to beat and then we won't concede the type of goals when all the opposition goalkeeper has to do is kick a long ball into the heart of our defence and then there's a goal chance."

I cover my mouth with my hand and stare vacantly into space. I don't know what to say; don't know what to do.

"What's wrong, son?" he asks. "Are you starting to cry? I mean, I think I'd just about gotten used to senseless swearing, but I don't even know what to do with this."

"'Harder to beat'?" I choke back a sob. "Harder to fucking beat! Let's work on our defensive shape and playing not to lose on the road, hey? Even after a couple of good displays from playing uptempo and aggressively, we're back to playing not to lose as the core concept, because that's how your Uniteds and Barcelonas do it, right? Playing not to lose instead of looking to impose your will, and if it worked at Malmo and for those great Italian sides of the eighties..."

"David has had stitches," he says. "Hopefully he will be okay for the Fulham game."