Liverpool vs Newcastle: Proroguing the Premier League, Syd Puddefoot’s record fee and Steve Bruce is not the Messiah – he’s a very naughty boy

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Newcastle have broken an age-old Geordie tradition, by not appointing a Messiah

Simon Meakin returns with his completely unique take on this weekend’s clash with Newcastle United.

It seems like an age since the previous preview, thanks to the International break.  Normally, this is where having a second team to support usually comes in handy to get my fix of league action.  This was foiled by Hereford surely setting a new world record for worst team ever to have to call a match off due to multiple international call-ups. 

Not content with cornering the market in St Kitts and Nevis players, in the hope they’ll be the new Belgium, they had a guy who didn’t even get the chance to come off the bench and kick Shaqiri on behalf of Gibraltar.  Although, checking the line-ups, ‘Big Shaq’ didn’t even manage to get on the Swiss bench in the first place (resist joke about him just being hidden behind some Micky Droy sized centre back or sitting under the bench) so I’m now wondering whether we’ve sustained yet another injury on international duty

Anyway the league finally returns and things are going pretty swimmingly so far.  Still top of the league, still with a 100% record and having defeated our first top six rival with ease.  If we beat Newcastle on Saturday that will be our 14th straight league win. 

To put that into context, in a century or so of trying, no team in the top four divisions had ever won more matches in a row, until Pep turned up.  It almost seems unfair that we won’t be able to count most of them this season purely on the basis that they happened last term.  Bloody rules!  Can’t Klopp just go the Queen and prorogue the Premier League?

The Mogg family pretending they like soccer ball

Newcastle aren’t in a good place though.  Man City got owners that desperately wanted to plough billions of pounds into an English football club, in order to distract from a record of human rights abuses back home. They also managed to break the only rule of English grammar that never gets broken, by having a country that forgot to put a U after it’s Q. One of these things convinced Jacob Rees-Mogg to make his kids support Liverpool in protest – can you guess which one kids?. 

Newcastle, meanwhile, ended up with a bloke who searches his employees underpants when they leave work, in case they’re cunningly trying to make off with the stock by wearing it.  Sadly for Newcastle fans, he doesn’t seem to believe in ploughing billions of pounds into an English football club to distract from underpants searches.  And, so a club who remarkably became one of only two English clubs to break the world transfer record since the 1950’s with the signing of Shearer (the other one being United’s purchase of Pogba – har har. How’s that one working out then United fans?) now find themselves shopping in Poundland – relatively speaking of course.

This is the Premier League after all, and they have just signed a player from a shop that if you were being picky must have actually been called Forty Million Pound Land (where you can also presumably buy a bumper pack of eighty million Duracell batteries or an old DVD of Andy Townsend football bloopers).  Mind you, all of that is not half as remarkable as discovering that the world transfer market was once shattered by Falkirk of all clubs, when they bought the excellently named Syd Puddefoot.

Syd Puddefoot: record breaker

In terms of matches between the two teams it’s impossible to look any further than the pair of legendary 4-3’s in the 1990’s.  Great though both games undoubtedly were, they did highlight the notoriously soft centre that prevented the Roy Evans era team really doing justice to the undoubted talent they had. 

I was at the second match and while it was brilliant celebrating the last minute winner, I remember the sick feeling immediately beforehand when we appeared to be on the brink of blowing a 3-0 lead, thanks mainly to David James apparently hammering Super Mario Brothers the night before (not an excuse you ever heard Syd Puddefoot come out with I’d wager).  That game was part of the run-in in 97, when we had a golden opportunity to haul in a stuttering Man United. If only we displayed a bit more steel.  So, bitter-sweet memories there.

Newcastle are of course famous for pioneering the unique “Messiah” management structure.  Some clubs might plump for Directors of Football, Head Coaches, or just plain and simple Managers.  Yet every time Newcastle sack their manager (so quite regularly) there is am immediate demand to find a new Geordie Messiah. 

They even had two of them one year and promptly got themselves relegated.  Presumably the Board have to draw up an all Geordie shortlist containing Chris Waddle, Jimmy Nail, Cheryl Cole and at least one of Ant and Dec.  Why is this?  Bolton never put the call out for a new Boltonian Messiah when Big Sam left them.  Florentino Perez doesn’t go looking for a new Madrid Messiah every time he has to fire the Real manager for not winning the Champions League. 

To paraphrase Tom Baker’s sea captain in Blackadder (the brilliant Redbeard Rum) when asked whether it was usual practice not to have any crew –  “Opinion is divided on the matter!  All the other Chairman say you don’t need a Messiah.  I say you do!”

Which brings us to the match prediction.  So far I’ve got a 100% record in getting the winning margin right.  But 0% in terms of the score or pretty much any of the scorers.  Anyway, I’m thinking Newcastle being in a bit of a mess will be counteracted by the fact that their latest Messiah is actually a naughty boy called Steve Bruce, who has a very annoying record of generally avoiding getting beaten by us.  But not counteracted that much.  3-0 to the reds with a goal apiece from Mane, Firmino and Salah – I’m really trying to make sure I get at least one goalscorer right this time. Oh, and a 14th league win on the bounce too. 

Oh, and a message to Mike Ashley. You have a woman’s purse (which you never open).  I’ll wager you’ve never had sixteen shipwrecked mariners tossing in it!

Simon Meakin: The Blue Angel, Kevin Keelan and consorting with Canaries

Simon Meakin channels his inner Ronnie Corbett, as he looks forward, backwards and sideways to this Friday’s clash with Norwich City, at Anfield.

Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home.  That’s apparently what Norwich stands for according to my mate.

Many Liverpool supporters I know – particularly those from Liverpool itself it seems – appear to operate a policy of strict neutrality when it comes to other teams.  With the obvious exceptions of Everton, Man United, probably Chelsea and whoever we are fighting with for the title, fourth place or whatever. City were never really that much of a rival until the last few years, despite being Mancs. I get the impression that most Liverpool fans don’t really care who wins between say Sunderland and West Brom.

Whereas I’ve always had a different view.  I’ve always had certain favourites and other teams I’ve disliked throughout the leagues.  Usually for absolutely no rational reason whatsoever. For example, I’ve always quite liked Middlesbrough, never liked Sunderland; Rochdale good, Stockport, I can’t be doing with them. 

Some have remained constant, others have ebbed and flowed. Maybe it’s because they went from playing beautiful flowing, football to being a bunch of cloggers or vice versa.  I really don’t like Mansfield purely because of the derogatory comments one of their fans posted about Liverpool supporters after we played them in the cup a couple of years back.

The point of all this is that I have a favourite other Premier League team.  And it’s Norwich.  I’m not sure whether it’s because I liked their kit, or because they were the first team I ever saw at Anfield back in 1978 aged 7. We won the game 3-0, although I thought we’d only won 2-0 until my Dad put me right. Oh, and I remember being really impressed that their goalkeeper was called Kevin Keelan, which was pretty much the same as Kevin Keegan in my book. 

It’s certainly not because of any connection with Norwich.  I’ve only ever been there once, to see a girl I’d met in the Blue Angel.  It didn’t really work out.  Took about three days to get there, she drank too many beers and ended up chucking up everywhere, and I think at one point suggested I should “consort” with her mate instead.  On the plus side I did see Gonch out of Grange Hill in the pub (possibly engaged in a hair-brained moneymaking scheme to sell toast or something). So it wasn’t all bad.

Whatever the reason I’ll admit to a little bit of a warm glow when they got promoted back to the top flight.  So, once Friday is out of the way, I’ll be wishing them well for the season ahead and hoping that they do more of a Wolves than a Fulham.  They’ve even got a German manager so what could possibly go wrong!

Norwich were also the last ever team to play at Anfield when they still had standing on the Kop.  I can’t remember much about the game to be honest other than we were awful, and we lost.  I’d always thought the score was 1-2 but on checking it turns out it was 0-1.  I really don’t have a good track record with remembering Norwich scores.  What I do remember is the price of the ticket.  £7.  And Liverpool’s promise that the move to an all-seater stadium would most definitely not lead to a big hike in ticket prices. Oh no sir.  Not ever.  I’ll file that one along with the claim that Paul Stewart was going to be the next Ian Rush!

My favourite Norwich game though had to be the prior season when we beat them 4-1.  Thanks in no small part to a dominant central midfield performance from a pair of 19-year-old starlets named Redknapp and Hutchison which led me boldly to predict we were looking at England’s central midfield partnership for the next ten years.  And, if it wasn’t for Redknapp’s terrible luck with injuries, I think I’d have been proved right.  Well, that and the fact that Hutchison mysteriously turned out to be Scottish, and that he seemed to devote more of his time to sticking Budweiser labels on his cock in Labinsky’s than actually playing football. 

I must point out that during my in-depth research for this article, I’ve discovered that Hutchison was actually 21 at the time, which slightly messes up the narrative.  Most of the rest of my in-depth research however involved reading a Daily Express article with Louise Redknapp talking about getting over her split from Jamie.  Talk about investigative journalism at it’s finest!  Move over Woodward and Bernstein.  I’m taking over!  And, of course Louise, in the reasonably likely event you’re reading this, I’m up for a pint if you need someone to talk to.  Unless you’ve moved to Norwich.  I’m not doing that drive again.

Back to the football.  My other favourite Norwich memories have to be Luis Suarez related.  And the fact he pretty much scored at least a hat trick against them every single time he played them.  Best of all were the four goals he scored against them in the December during the ill-fated Rodgers championship bid.  That run-up to Christmas saw Suarez at his absolute zenith in my opinion, as he drove us to the top of the league on Christmas Day.  His fourth best goal that night was worthy of being a Match of the Day goal of the month contender.  I defy anyone, anywhere to show me a goal that good that doesn’t even make the players best three goals of the night.

Anyway, time for a match prediction.  Last time we played them was in a lunatic 5-4 win in Klopp’s early days at the club. Lallana grabbed a last-minute winner, after we almost managed to shoot ourselves in the foot against a side tumbling into the Championship.  We’ve learned how to defend a bit since then though. So I can safely say that won’t happen again unless Van Dijk falls down a well.  I’m going for a comfortable 3-0 to ease us into the season.  A Bobby double and a late Keita pile-driver after coming off the bench.

By Simon Meakin

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