I'm hitting the road yet again, so let's make this quick.
That's what she said! Pow! Okay, now I'm hanging my head in shame.
Anyway, I'm continuing to feel pretty good about the result yesterday. It's sort of a strange thing, really---I don't know what I expected, and 2-0 against Rabotnicki isn't typically the stuff to blow your skirt up. A handful of those involved had mediocre showings, and when you throw in that Liverpool's first goal was gifted by the shambolic Rabotnicki defense, the result wasn't that impressive.
But dammit, I've resolved to feel good about the result, and nothing can stop me. We've (read: I've) whined and complained and bitched and moaned long enough, expected the worst, hoped for the mediocre, and resigned the club to an eternity in limbo. All because the team finished seventh last season.
Okay, it's not entirely due to the failures in the table from last season---that's about a third of the problem. The board room and front offices are still in shambles, there's no news on the ownership front, and there's not much clarity about who's actually running the club. If we're to go by Roy Hodgson's reports, that's still a point of contention. We can only hear so many "the club will have to decide" responses before we make the natural conclusion that he's got as much control as Rafa did. That in and of itself is reason for a pretty big gulp.
For me, though, watching Liverpool's second-choice squad grind out the result brought about a wave of something positive---I'm just not quite sure what it was. It's very likely that it feels good relative to how dreary the end of last season and previous summer months have been. But there was also a sort of purely good feeling watching Liverpool play football and win, regardless of the personnel or the opposition. It was Liverpool in a match that had some sort of quantitative meaning, and they came out on top.
So that's my ridiculous early season head-in-the-clouds moment---yes it's naive, yes it's ignoring bigger issues at the club, and yes it's July. But this isn't Man's Search for Meaning. It's Liverpool Football Club, and there can be meaning without suffering. I think. I really am starting to embrace the idea that even with things as bad as they are at the top, there's respite to be found on the pitch. Last season's squad struggled to make a distinction between the two and barely kept our heads above water. It's only July, and there's plenty left to be sorted for the club, but it's a start.
Just don't remind of this in late January when I'm typing nothing but curses and proclaiming that there is no god. Deal?
Now that that's out of the way, there's a couple of noteworthy stories on the day:
---Unfortunately the first is not nearly as positive as the feelings from yesterday's win. There were racist taunts directed at Liverpool's black players during the match---I saw the pictures last night but couldn't track them down this morning. Needless to say, f*cking classless stuff from the parties involved. Any time this sort of thing happens is too often, and it happens frequently enough that it needs conversation in the different leagues around the world. I hope they're able to identify and ban the shit out of the fans responsible, and I'm sure Rabotnicki can expect reprimand as well. Sad and shameful stuff.
---There is more positive David Ngog news to come out of yesterday's match, this from Roy Hodgson:
"I can't stop players being linked with other clubs. I certainly have never discussed him leaving. I think Ngog has done well in the pre-season matches so far and he has worked very hard in the training sessions. I was pleased that he crowned his performance with two goals. I thought his target play, his general movement and his ability to keep the ball for us was also very good. But front players need goals and that will be a very big weight off his mind."
Echoed entirely. Plenty of commenters yesterday noted that Ngog looked like a different player (I still say it's because he stopped wearing his pajama shirt), and excepting for the fact that it was Rabotnicki, it was an encouraging sight. For me, the target play and ability to stand up defenders was the most impressive, partially because it's been such a concern in the past. Well done to Ngog, and hopefully we'll see plenty more performances like yesterday's.
---Lastly, we'll see another debutant this weekend as Joe Cole takes to the pitch against Borussia Moenchengladbach. Yes, I copied and pasted Moenchengladbach. Apparently we'll also see Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, with the squad slowly growing to full strength ahead of the Premier League opener in two weeks' time. It'll be interesting to see how Cole fits (or is fit) into the team sheet---we really can't make any sort of assertions about what formation Hodgson will be using as the season starts, and neither the friendlies nor the match yesterday are likely to give us any sort of conclusive proof of the new boss' tendencies. Exciting to see Cole out there, though, and as usual in a friendly, we'll hope for fitness above all else.
And with that I'm off---back tomorrow with whatever sort of slop I can piece together. Enjoy your Friday.