One of the nice things about an up and down fall for Liverpool is that we've had the joy of monitoring things that are a pain in the ass both on and off the pitch. After a relatively serene spring and a summer mostly marked by optimism, we've been able to lament lack of finishing, dropped points, and poor decisions in matches to go along with a host of other concerns away from the action. And no single entity is more responsible recently for those concerns than the FA, who asserted themselves as clear leaders in organizational incompetence and general nincompoopery.
* The most frustrating aspect of all of this is that there's actually clarification needed for which incident we're talking about---in this case it's the charges of racism lodged by Patrice Evra towards Luis Suarez back on October 15th. There's really no need to get back into any of the actual details, which have been covered more than enough by all parties involved. So the one bright spot (if we can call it that) in the whole saga is that it looks like it'll finally be over, with the FA remembering that they started something and now have the unfortunate task of following through:
The hearing is expected to last for two days with the outcome expected by the end of the week. Both players are due to give evidence to the hearing. The charge followed a month-long investigation and the Uruguay striker immediately denied the accusation.
A two day trial after nearly nine weeks of fielding complaints and investigating...something, and suddenly there's a resolution on the horizon. At this point it feels like the relevance is lost, and while it's a necessary part of the process, failing to act sooner---one way or the other---makes this much more of a circus than it needed to be. All the stuff we said two months ago still applies, in that if there's actually proof of Suarez using racist language, or even use of a phrase that's "okay" in his culture, there could and likely should be some sort of consequence. If not, there's still no clearing everything up, and the FA will have deferred to the court of public opinion, where the verdict on Suarez has already been delivered.
At least until his next FA hearing, which he'll at least have more time to prepare for.
* More focused on the football, last night Liverpool learned the identity of their opponents for the third round of the FA Cup; Oldham Athletic will visit Anfield on January 6th after getting past Southend United 1-0. Chris Taylor scored the only goal of the match in the 58th minute to give the League One side a chance at a shock result in the next round.
It's a decent enough draw for Liverpool, who haven't made it past the fifth round in the five years since their win at the Millenium Stadium. But they've struggled early regardless of their opponent, drawing with Luton and Reading before eventually advancing and crashing out to Arsenal in the 2006-2007 third round and at the hands of Manchester United in Kenny Dalglish's first match back earlier this year. Their wobbly home form isn't going to do them any favors, though, and while this season has seen the club take domestic cup competition more seriously, that doesn't make them immune to stumbling.
* Lastly, everyone's favorite wang-flashing, hairless midfielder is looking towards the first team after his successful loan spell at Blackpool. Jonjo Shelvey made the bench and featured briefly against QPR on Sunday, and given the lack of options in the midfield for the immediate future, some have already started to talk about him as a legitimate option over the busy month of December. For his part, Shelvey's saying all the right things, and depending on how Dalglish decides to line up, there's a very real possibility he could see meaningful minutes:
"I feel that the time I spent away from the club really helped me come on as a player. But it also made me realise just how much I want to be playing in Liverpool's first team. There's a big difference between Championship football and Premier League football. It's so good to be back in and around the squad.
"I only got on for a few minutes on Saturday (in the 1-0 win against QPR) but it was really special to be back out there on the pitch in front of the fans. It's always a great honour to play for Liverpool. Kenny called me back and hopefully now I can show the gaffer what I can do. I've got to deliver day in, day out in training and try to force my way into his plans."
So while for now it looks like Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam are going to partner, there's undoubtedly some sort of role for Shelvey to play. Whether that's more than just being an extra set of fresh legs to spell those who feature more regularly, or as a regular contributor himself, it's nice to at least have a young talent who's got his head on straight and is willing to work to provide whatever sort of support the club needs.
Now he just needs to make sure he blocks Damien Comolli from his Twitter.
We'll be back later on with any other news as it pops up, but for now go ahead and consider the eerie resemblance of a late-seventies Al Pacino to Luis Suarez, and hope that the Uruguayan does his homework before attending his hearing. I mean, it's even subtitled in Spanish for crying out loud: