Say, if I followed you home, would you keep me? Or at least not mace me? And would it make any difference if I could give you Tuesday's news and notes? You don't have to answer now. Just, you know, think about it. And at least give me a bit of warning on the mace front, if that's not too much to ask…
* If I told you that over the past five seasons January was the absolute worst time of the year to follow along behind the at times teetering ship that is Liverpool, would you hold it against me? Wait, that doesn't quite work—and I swear, I've only had one beer. Or seven.
The sad truth of the matter, though, is that Liverpool in January really has been about as successful as asking a girl if the tag on her shirt says "Made in Heaven," and both tend to go hand in hand with one too many alcoholic beverages and a crippling inability to deal with social situations. And while the latter might be solved through the occasional visit to a psychiatrist and heavy doses of non-self-prescribed medication, when it comes to Liverpool it seems to matter little what the remedy and who's guiding treatment:
Liverpool have averaged 1.00 points per game or fewer in eight months over the last four-and-a-half seasons—eight of 46 months during this time frame. Three were in January, including this season, with one in December. Half of Liverpool's horrible months since the 2007-08 season have come during winter, under Benitez, Hodgson, and Dalglish.
Admittedly, January isn't quite over with just yet. If Liverpool win at Wolves on the 31st, it will bump this season's January average all the way up to 1.00 points per game. Which will still be worse than just four other months since the start of 2007-08.
If there is an upside, it's that no matter how things go against Wolves the month is almost over, and as illustrated by Nate's as always top notch infographics that means it's on to February and March, two months above the median—and in the case of March, Liverpool's best month over the past five seasons. So at least there's a silver lining for both the club and your liver. At least that's what the voices in my head are telling me. Well, that and that I'm here to steal your heart.
* Mario Balotelli stops at random schools to use the washrooms. Mario Balotelli is a crusader against bullying. Mario Balotelli once rode an elephant through downtown Manchester. Mario Balotelli rearranged the alphabet to put U and I together. Plus he also burnt down his house that one time and wore a giant knitted glove on his head. And also there's some other stuff that he may or may not have done—frankly, if you can imagine it, it's at worst a 50-50 proposition.
One thing most would agree he did do was to backheel Tottenham's Scott Parker in the head. Not everybody agrees that it was entirely intentional, and at the time his crime went unpunished, but following the match referee Howard Webb told the FA that had he seen the incident he would have shown Balotelli red. All of which means that the City striker is now set to miss four matches after being given a retroactive red card—his second of the season—by England's entertainingly bipolar Football Association, and that City will have to decide if they plan on appealing the decision prior to the match against Liverpool on Wednesday.
Whether any of this is in fact good news for Liverpool isn't entirely certain, of course, as it's at worst a 50-50 proposition as to whether a fit and available Balotelli would actually help or hinder his club's chances, but if they choose not to challenge the decision there will at least be less potential for crazy on the pitch come Wednesday night. And because of that, you just heard the sound of my heart breaking.
* Moving back down the M62, and I think it's fair to say I've never seen an angel fly so low. Or use crutches. But there's a first for everything, and the club's official site certainly seemed as smitten by Lucas as many of the fans have become over the past few seasons when they reported on his return to Liverpool as he continues his rehabilitation. First they had the semi-posed pictures: The twinkle that spoke of deeper feelings in Jamie Carragher's eye clear for all the world to see as the two men shook hands; the warm embrace from Dirk Kuyt while Pepe Reina looked on approvingly saying, Yes, this is for the long haul; the woman at the front desk out of focus in the background and oblivious to what's going on around her.
Then it was on to the player's statement, with Lucas letting everybody know that the rehab is going well and that he'll be at Anfield watching the second leg of the semi-final on Wednesday and that the world is once again filled with puppies and sunshine. And with that, suddenly everything was just that little bit better and brighter—even if Lucas is still a good six months from fitness and his return to Liverpool didn't actually solve the club's more pressing concerns.
We'll be back later on, at the very least filled with shame and regret but hopefully also with the preview for Wednesday's match, but in the meantime (and with a moderate language warning)…