Early Doors

Buyer’s remorse

Early Doors

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You know that horrible feeling when you splash out on a big
purchase, only to realise you have chucked your money away?

When you save up your hard-earned to spend a three-figure
sum some needlessly jumped-up pair of jeans from a poncey boutique, only to see
them half-price in the chain store next door.

When you stretch your finances to the limit to buy a
one-bedroomed box in a gloomy suburb, then watch a vastly inflated housing
market come crashing down around your ears.

When you wake with a fuzzy head and a mouth that taste like
badger faeces (not that ED would know, etc.), tot up all the dog-eared receipts and realise you've spent
£100 on a 'quiet drink', treated yourself to a cab home because
the night bus seemed like too much of a challenge, and bought an extra large kebab, the majority of which is spread rancidly around your face, neck and torso.

Or when you splash out £300 million on a famous football
club, then go to a match and realise you have wasted your money on a team of
impostors in red shirts, and Sammy Lee.

Before this turns into an Alanis Morissette song, let's cut to the chase.

Liverpool were so awful in the Merseyside derby, so abject,
so witless, so gutless, so sorely lacking in rudimentary skills, so
disorganised, so inferior to an Everton side who have also struggled this
season, so absolutely devoid of hope, that John W Henry and his NESV cronies
must have thought about giving Hicks and Gillett a call, and offering them the
club back at a hefty discount.

Roy Hodgson's absurd claim that Liverpool "dominated
the second half totally"
has been roundly derided, although he may be
right that: "The second half was as good as I saw a Liverpool team play under my management."

Which says it all about just how ridiculously
bad Liverpool have been this season. It is not
just that they are 19th in the table, it is that they deserve to be there.

There have been no hard-luck stories, no beach
balls or contentious refereeing decisions. Each of their four defeats has been deserved
(against Manchester City, Manchester United, Blackpool and Everton),
while the most questionable result was their only win, a scraped 1-0 against West Brom.

Theirs has truly been relegation form.

The team has 'not good enough' stamped all
over it. In fact, let's go through the senior squad in all its abject misery.
It is clear they need major reinforcements in every position except in goal.

Goalkeepers
Pepe Reina - Good
Brad Jones - Perfectly acceptable back-up

Full-backs
Glen Johnson - A bit flaky but basically OK
Paul Konchesky - Would be an OK back-up. Sadly, he's first
choice at left-back.
Stephen Darby - Not trusted. We know this because Jamie
Carragher plays right-back when Johnson is out. And Carra ain't a right-back.
Fabio Aurelio - Says it all that he was released at the end
of last season, then reluctantly re-signed.

Centre-backs
Jamie Carragher - A decent player, a great dessing-room
influence.
Martin Skrtel - No-nonsense. If by 'nonsense' you mean 'basic
ball skills'.
Daniel Agger - Horrendously injury-prone, and he's got a
mouth on him.
Sotiris Kyrgiakos - Really, REALLY not good.

Defensive/central midfielders
Lucas Leiva - Not as bad as everybody thinks and, at 23, has
time to improve. But he's plainly not ready to be Liverpool's
main man in midfield.
Christian Poulsen - A dreadfully inadequate replacement for
Javier Mascherano.
Raul Meireles - Uninspiring, particularly considering his
hefty £11.5m price tag.
Jay Spearing - Oddly tiny, and was atrocious in the Carling
Cup defeat to Northampton.

Attacking midfielders
Steven Gerrard - Yes. Even if he was subpar at Goodison,
Gerrard is inspirational and indispensable.
Dirk Kuyt - Made entirely of blond curls and distilled
endeavour. But very much crocked, and quite possibly off to Inter in January.
Joe Cole - Doesn't look so much like the transfer coup of
the summer now, does he? There is a small chance Harry Redknapp is glad he got
Rafael van der Vaart instead.
Maxi Rodriguez - Drifts through games, contributes little.
Ryan Babel - Much-maligned, and usually rightly. But rarely
gets a chance these days.
Milan
Jovanovic - Identikit mid-table player. Was at Standard Liege for a reason.

Strikers
Fernando Torres - One of the best in the world when on form,
which he isn't.
David N'Gog - Still just 21, and actually quite promising. But
like Lucas, he needs time to develop.

Let's say NESV had unlimited resources to build a
title-winning squad. How many of the above would they actually want to keep? Who
could they realistically see contributing to the first championship in over 20
years?

By ED's reckoning, just these: Reina, Jones, Johnson,
Carragher (for historical reasons), Lucas, Gerrard, Torres, N'Gog.

Eight players. Including two keepers and two players called
Lucas and N'Gog.

NESV might be able to rescue Liverpool from crippling debt,
but they cannot bring in 15 quality players overnight, they cannot compete with
Manchester City
or Chelsea in
the transfer market, and they certainly cannot do it while bankrolling a new
stadium.

It would be melodramatic to describe Liverpool's
decline as terminal, but it is hard to see how Henry can ever restore the club
to its former glories. He might be asking his lawyers to check their pockets
for that receipt this morning.

Still, on the bright side, Scouse songstress Rebecca
Ferguson did well on X-Factor.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: ED loves Roberto Mancini. Fact. Here he is on Joe Hart
and Adam Johnson's recent evenings on the booze:  "I have spoken to them about this. What I
said was private, but it is better they go with a woman than a drink. It is
better. That is what I did when I was a player. In
Italy
the players don't have this culture to drink after the game. It is so different
but I understand it is part of the English culture and it is not easy to change.
Adam Johnson and Joe Hart are young, they are playing in the national team and
they must change. It's very frustrating for me to see this behaviour because I
don't understand it. I don't understand why a player must drink after a game.
Okay, maybe one drink is okay but three, four, five, six - drinking until they
are drunk - this is not good. One day when I first started in
Leicester
I went with my team-mates after training to a pub and the 10 or 12 of us drank I
don't know how many beers. That wouldn't happen in
Italy
after training."

BROADCASTING CRIME OF THE WEEKEND: Jamie Redknapp pretending
to know about baseball. A vague approximation: 'Fair play to the Red Sox, they
won nuffink for 86 years, then two World Serieses in 10 years. Henry done a triffic
job etc.'

Would Redknapp like to expand on GM Theo Epstein's use of sabermetrics,
David Ortiz's emergence as an elite slugger or Dave Roberts's iconic stolen
base in Game Four of the ALCS? Thought not.

FOREIGN VIEW: Internazionale's game against Cagliari was held up for three minutes
because of racist chants aimed at Samuel Eto'o. The Cameroonian then scored a
brilliant winner. Hurrah.Although ED isn't quite sure about most news agencies' pat
reporting of the incident as though Eto'o's goal solved the problem of racism
forever.

PREMIER LEAGUE VIDEOS: It's only highlights from every
Premier League game, including a 90-second round-up of all the goals for
football-lovers on a deadline.

COMING UP: Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland
is the Monday night Premier League game, and kicks off at 8pm. Do follow it
with us.

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