By Simon Meakin
Simon Meakin returns to preview this Sunday’s clash with Spurs, gloat about getting the Leicester result spot on and deliver his verdict on this weekend’s result. As ever, it is a match preview like no other.
So we’ve dropped the first points of the season. On the glass half full side, we maintained our unbeaten start to the season (and we’re now 26 league games unbeaten since January). And, we demonstrated yet again that we simply won’t lie down and accept defeat with another late goal (and I’m delighted for Adam Lallana too. After all, he has been through injury-wise over the last few years), and once we equalised there was only one team who even looked remotely like they could win it (how often could we have said that about a visit to Old Trafford). Of course, we also denied United two crucial points in their relegation battle. Could be telling in May that!
But. But. But. There’s no getting away from the fact we were very poor for most of
the game, against a very average side. I’m not sure what kind of wheel Ole is
supposed to be at, but looking at United’s performances so far this season my best
guess is a Wagon Wheel (you knew it was always a good school lunchtime when you
opened your lunch box and found one of those circular chocolate treats within).
But, it is slightly worrying that we produced our worst performance since last time we
visited Old Trafford. Do we have some sort of mental block about playing there?
Scarred by too many defeats in the Fergie era? In a way it might be better if the
answer was yes, given we don’t have to play there again this season. But we’re still
six points clear at the top so any complaints can probably be filed away under “first
world” problems for now. Incidentally does anyone actually know where the second
world is? It never seems to make the news so I can only assume it lacks a decent
publicist (you know the sort of chap who tells it to don a Chelsea shirt and start
sucking someone’s toes just to get a mention after the Giant Pandas failing to mate
again on John Craven’s Newsround).
Before we move on to the Spurs game I’d also just like to put in a big shout to me
and my Leicester prediction. Not only did I get the result right, not only did I get the
score bang on, I even correctly predicted our winning goalscorer and the scorer of
Leicester’s consolation goal. I haven’t been in the club shop of late but given how on
fire I was with last week’s predictions (yes I know it was actually three weeks) it
wouldn’t surprise me if a whole range of ‘Big Red Combine Harvester’ memorabilia
hasn’t already been rolled out. For any new readers (for example I’d imagine Eric
Dier is likely to be reading this looking for red hot tactical insights ahead of Sunday’s
game – and let me say Eric, you’ve come to exactly the right place) please refer back
to my previous blog entry.
On to Spurs then (finally says Eric). This is the club who in my youth epitomised the term “Fancy Dan”. They had Ricky Villa, who sported the kind of revolutionary beard that could singlehandedly bring down fascist juntas, Glen Hoddle who rebelliously wore his shirt so untucked from his shorts, he almost looked like a particularly hefty member
of Pan’s People wearing a mini-skirt on Top of the Pops circa 1970, Ossie Ardiles – who
famously adopted the role of happy, clueless Manuel out of Fawlty Towers foreigner mispronouncing “Tottingham” on Top of the Pops, and Steve Archibald, who slightly less famously achieved the rare feat of appearing with two separate acts on Top of the Pops on the same night. He sang with both Tottenham and the Scotland World Cup squad – yes do not adjust your sets younger readers – Scotland once used to have enough good players (mostly ours it has to be said) to actually qualify for things (Christ knows what Yazoo and Altered Images or whoever else was appearing on that episode thought was going on). Oh, and Garth Crooks.
As a child, I have to admit I had a sneaky pang of jealousy at their Fancy Dan ways. Especially when compared to our slightly dour, get a goal and then let Hansen and Lawrenson pass it round the back for an hour approach (I may be slightly exaggerating for effect here). But, on the other hand, as a child I also got a lot of joy from the fact we used to win everything all the time as well. So, swings and roundabouts.
Returning to Steve Archibald, his other main claim to fame was that when Terry Venables took over as Barcelona manager he decided it would be a good idea if the first thing he did was to flog Diego Maradona to Napoli and replace him with Archibald.
For those younger readers still reeling from my explosive Scotland revelations this was the equivalent of selling Messi and replacing him with Danny Ings. Even more astonishingly ‘El Tel’ and Archibald then proceeded to win what was – at that time – Barcelona’s second title in a quarter of a century (the only other time being in 1974, when having just signed Cruyff from under the noses of Real Madrid. Allegedly, Cruyff refused to sign for Madrid due to their associations with fascist General Franco. Barcelona then famously went to the Bernabeu and dismantled Real 0-5 with Cruyff putting on a Total Football masterclass. So, there you have it. Steve Archibald. Better than Maradona. As good as Cruyff.
Right, now that Dier will have given up trying to follow this and gone off to look at Jan
Vertonghen’s wife’s Instragram account instead, it’s time to move on to the modern
day Spurs. Having moved from Fancy Dan, through to “Spursy,” to actually being
quite good – they now appear to be going through a mini-crisis (but at least have the
advantage of the media being a bit distracted by Man U having a bigger one). I thought I’d look back to the last time we played this lot. And after racking my brains for a while, it came back to me.
Oh yes! It was when we became Champions of Europe! For the sixth time! Has anyone mentioned this little known fact since? I believe we should put it out there (and not using the second world’s useless publicist. No. I’m thinking more like Kenny Everett’s Brother Lee Love and his enormous hands!). “We’ve conquered all of Europe. We’re never going to stop” “We’re the greatest team in Europe and we’re off to Auntie Bee’s!” (Sorry. That’s what I always sing to my son when we’re off to visit his Aunt. Who’s called Bee.
I’d like to think that’s what sealed the deal re him becoming a Liverpool fan. Even though I haven’t really explained the Rome 77 stuff and he therefore hasn’t got a clue why I’m singing it). Anyway, calming down after that moment of excitement, on to the match.
Having failed to turn up against Crisis Team A, I’m feeling a backlash in my bones, and a convincing performance against Crisis Team B. I’m going with 4-1 to the Red Men. Two goals and a man of the match winning performance from Bobby, a goal from Mane and an own-goal from Dier – who will have been thoroughly bamboozled by my talk of low blocks, split strikers and wagon wheels.
I’m predicting that Harry Kane will fall over, win and then score a penalty. So, it’s another week at number one for Klopp’s People, Ole dropping out of the top 40 entirely and Clare Grogan having to chase Steve Archibald out of her dressing room, after discovering him wearing nothing but a Womble costume!