Dyke’s agricultural version of football

Remember the days of Saturday kick-offs at 3pm?
For sure, there was something decidedly unreal about making the mile-long walk to Anfield from the car park at 11am on a Sunday morning in March. An Arctic gale was turning people sideways and hailstones were transforming the streets and sidewalks into white.
The omens were not great. Liverpool’s opponents were the Premiership thugs and these horrendous climatic conditions seemed tailor-made for the brutal spoiling tactics so beloved of Sean Dyke’s Burnley.
Klopp was insistent that all the so-called pressure was in the minds of the press who were almost willing the Reds to collapse in order to make a great story. Fake news made for good reading, but it didn’t exist within the walls of Anfield Stadium where the knowledgeable kopites were realists.
Not that events were set to start well. Beforehand, I’d proclaimed to all and sundry that weakling referee Marriner had a long history in being soft on teams with a thuggish approach, but even allowing for that, it was difficult to see how he could allow the visitors’ early lead goal to stand.
Not one, but three Burnley players climbed all over Allison as a corner went straight into goal. This meant that two major and very contentious decisions inside 18 hours had gone in favour of the Reds’ title challengers, City.
If the naysayers had needed a moment to see Liverpool press the panic button, it was surely now. However, it didn’t happen. The Reds kept the ball on the ground in the ferocious gale and calmly got themselves back in the match with some really cool and skilful play.
If anything, it was Burnley, who found a lack of skill to their detriment in the conditions, though Referee Marriner continued to perplex the kop with his disinclination to find fault with Dyche’s agricultural methods.
At no stage did Liverpool panic at being behind; if anything they seemed almost laid back and even when gilt edged chances went begging there seemed to be nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders and a patient wait for the next one to arrive.
It was good to see Lallana back to his best. He was forever finding space and making himself available. If only we could rely on his fitness!
By his own standards, Trent had an average game, but when he was hauled off late on, there was some concern of another injury especially so close to Bayern. However, I suppose it is a necessary evil of Klopp’s overall approach that there’ll always be one player or another who’s living on the edge of a sore hamstring!
A final thought. Who would I love to see relegated? Top of my list is Burnley for their sheer unadulterated violence; then there’s Palace because of their Manager; my joint-third choices, United and Everton, have passed the 40 pts safety mark!!!
Mike Hopper

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