Posted by Dom
Sat, Feb 16, 445pm: Out celebrating my birthday, my friend Lee walks into the pub and tells me that Liverpool have drawn with Barnsley in the FA Cup. Birthday fun turns into mild depression at supporting Rafa Benitez’s band of under-achievers.
500pm: Walking home reading the internet on my phone, find out that Barnsley actually won.
501pm: Consider cancelling my birthday. Figure that the people who’ve come down to Kingston from Cardiff and Bournemouth to see me may not be too impressed with that as a plan.
Sun-Tues evening: The sports pages of the national papers are understandably full of doomsday predictions for the future of our Spanish coach and the team. Rafa must win the Champions League or be sacked. Rafa is going to be replaced by Martin O’Neill. The team is in crisis. Carragher furious at unacceptable display. Etc, etc.
925pm: Inter Milan in the Champions League. 85 minutes gone, and a familiar story – lots of possession, a couple of near misses, bad luck… no goals.
930pm: Steven Gerrard rockets in a screamer to wrap up a 2-0 victory against the kings of the Italian league. Cue absolute pandemonium in the Kop.
How a team can lose at home one day to an average-at-best Championship team, then beat the runaway leaders of the Italian league, a side which hadn’t even lost since September, is totally beyond me.
Luck, idiosyncratic team selections and the form of individual players may all have something to do with it, but ultimately there is no answer. And this glorious unpredictability, the fact that a simple game of 22 (or 21, as for most of last night) men kicking a ball around can astound, entrance, confuse and amaze, is why tens of millions of people across the world love football so hopelessly.