"Every game is a rival. Everybody that stands in front of you is an opponent."
With time taken earlier in the week to hear Rafa Benitez' thoughts on life, the universe, and everything, the approaching match against United on Sunday and Kenny Dalglish's Thursday morning press conference gives us a chance to look back to the future. And, realising that I may have just used a pair of famous titles in that one sentence, I'd best just move on to the King's speech before things really become the history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Or embarrassing. One or the other. And probably not the former.
Moving past the inane ramblings of foolish bloggers, there's inevitably talk of fitness to be found, what with Liverpool's long list of maybes on the training table. While it does look as though there's no new news to add to what Ed passed along earlier, Dalglish's way of playing with his questioners is in fine form and makes it far more enjoyable to hear the same old news than one might reasonably expect, as when he's asked if Andy Carroll has been progressing in training over the past week:
"Well, Andy's training was always progressing."
Ask a daft question, get it batted right back at you. It certainly is nice to have a manager back in charge who will play with the reporters a little bit when he's asked the sort of inane standardised questions--half of which couldn't be given a straight answer by any manager in his right mind in the run up to a match--that get asked in every press conference by every reporter in every sports league in every etcetera. And after years of trying to decipher just what it was that Rafa Benitez was saying in his press conferences, it actually turns out to be surprisingly easy to decipher Kenny Dalglish's notoriously difficult to decipher manner of speech.
Meanwhile, on United working their way towards another potential title, he was asked if while he was managing Blackburn to Premier League success he ever saw their decade and a half of dominance coming:
"Never considered it. I was concentrating on what I was supposed to do, and that was managing Blackburn Rovers.
"If we get a result Sunday," he said when pressed further, "it's more helpful for us than it would be harmful for them." Looking at the table, I'm not sure that's entirely true, at least not when it comes to where Liverpool wants to be--namely, in a Champions League spot. As was mentioned in the link roundup post that wasn't a link roundup post the other day, United remains only four points clear of Arsenal after their loss to Chelsea on Tuesday, while Arsenal holds a game in hand. Meanwhile, that same win by Chelsea that kept United's title hopes in doubt also lifted the blues back into fourth on forty-eight points, nine up on Liverpool and also with a game in hand. All of that paints a picture of a Liverpool win on Sunday doing a lot more to halt United's title aspirations than it does to help Liverpool's Champions League hopes.
Of course, Liverpool still needs to perform well enough to hold onto sixth and a chance of getting back into the Europa league, as without any European football tempting quality players and working back towards the top becomes a much more difficult task. But with sixth starting to look as though it's the best Liverpool can reasonably hope to achieve this season, it becomes hard for a fan not to look up and wonder what Liverpool's results might do to help shape the rest of the table. Though of course, as always, that does seem to take it all back to Dalglish's talent for always saying the right thing, since as a manager it always has to be about us, about his players and his team and his club, and so at the end of the day it's really quite silly for a reporter to ask him about what a win on Sunday does to United's title aspirations. One has to wonder if there really was some expectation that Dalglish would launch into a tirade about this week's goal being first and foremost to prevent number nineteen stumbling into a trophy case in Manchester, and of course this is so often the oddity of pre-match press conferences that tend to say little that might not have otherwise been reasonably deduced.
Still, while it may not tell us a lot about what to expect on Sunday, all of a sudden it's quite a bit of fun to watch Dalglish's pre- and post-match matches against various members of the press. It may not be the game itself, but it is a momentary Liverpool distraction to look forward to every now and then.