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Liverpool 3 Spurs 1 - Prem (May 24 2009)

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LIVERPOOL 3 Tottenham 1

Report by Dave Usher at Anfield

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Scorer(s) – Fernando Torres, Alan Hutton O.G., Yossi Benayoun

Half Time - 1-0

Venue - Anfield

Date - Sun 24 May 2009

Star Man – Dirk Kuyt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming out of Anfield on Sunday I just felt completely empty. If you’d offered me 86 points back in August when the season started, I’d have probably taken it. Forgive me for not doing cartwheels today though. Having just seen Sami Hyypia and (almost certainly) Xabi Alonso playing their last games for the club, I’m finding it hard to feel upbeat about anything right now. I’m just gutted.

 

It’s been a bizarre season, and I still don’t know if it should be classed as ‘successful’ or not. 86 points speaks for itself I suppose. Just two defeats in the league all season deserves a lot of credit, and for the first time in years we were involved in a title race. We did doubles over Chelsea and the mancs in the league, battered Real Madrid and were the top scorers in the country.

 

On the flipside, we’ve just completed a third successive trophyless season. We drew seven times at home, often to shite teams, we were dumped out of the FA Cup by Everton, were outplayed at Anfield in the CL by Chelsea and humiliated by Spurs in the League Cup. We lost at Boro, failed to beat Stoke twice etc We spent £40m last summer, and by the final game of the season not a single summer recruit was deemed good enough to be in the side, and the biggest signing of the lot was actually lining up and scoring for the opposition.

 

So was it a successuful season? Not for me, although I won’t argue with anyone who feels it was as a case can be made either way. Personally though I just feel disappointed and can’t help think about what could, and should have been. It was good, but could so so easily have been better.

 

That’s not why I’m feeling so empty though. It’s the loss of two more of the Istanbul side that’s responsible for that. We’ve known it was coming for Sami, and this was always going to be his day. Xabi though? Well even now there are people who still think he will be here next season. I’d love to think so, but the odds on it happening look pretty remote based on everything I’ve been hearing, and you could tell by his reaction at the end as he took part in the lap of honour that he thinks he’s played his last game for the club.

 

I watched Xabi wave to the Kop, and then put his hand on his heart in a gesture of thanks, and that was it. Confirmation of what I knew but didn’t want to fully accept. I don’t mind admitting, between that and seeing Sami breaking down in tears, I was more than a little choked up and had to stop myself from blubbering like a relegated Geordie. “You’re not John Terry, get a fucking grip” I told myself. I just about kept it together, but I’m still feeling pretty emotional even now, more than 24 hours later.

 

There’s an advert on the telly with the ‘Let it Snow’ tune. I usually happily sing along with it using the ‘midfield maestro’ lyrics, and I’ve even been trying to teach my two year old daughter to join in. It came on before, and that lump appeared in my throat again. I’m absolutely fucking gutted it looks like it’s come to this. I love Xabi, he’s everything I look for in a Liverpool player, a real class act in every way. Like I say, I’m absolutely gutted right now, but it looks pretty nailed on that he’s going.

 

Then there’s Sami. Ten years fantastic service, and even this year when he’s played he’s been fucking phenomenal. Like thousands of others,I turned up to Anfield yesterday looking forward to seeing the big man do his thing for one last time. I wasn’t expecting seven poxy fucking minutes that’s for damn sure. Still, but for the Kop’s repeated (and increasingly irritated) demands for him to get on, it would have been even less. Benitez said afterwards he wanted to wait til the last minute to put him on. I should be surprised, but sadly I’m not. Last minute indeed. Jesus Christ.

 

As for the game, well it was a typical end of season, nothing to play for kind of game, despite the fact we needed a win to guarantee second and Spurs had a chance of qualifying for Europe. We were pretty flat, Spurs even more so. Some of the Tottenham players need to take a good look at themselves after this half arsed display. Modric, King and Keane looked up for it, and the left back who’s name escapes me put a lot of effort in. The rest weren’t arsed though, and they were the perfect opposition for us really, as we weren’t completely at it either.

 

Mascherano was full of running and played the game as though it was the title decider we hoped it might be. The same can be said of Kuyt, who only knows one way to play and that’s flat out. There’s been times this season when my patience with Dirk has ran a little thin. He gets a lot of stick, and some of it is justified, but when you look at what he’s contributed this season in terms of goals and assists from the right hand side (mostly), he deserves a lot of credit. Not many players in his position can boast similar numbers.

 

He added another assist in this game, with a pinpoint cross that was superbly headed in by the otherwise quiet Torres to put us in front. Dirk might want to claim the second one himself, but his shot looked like it was going wide before it struck Hutton and wrong footed Gomes. Can’t see the dubious goals panel finding in his favour on that one.

 

At 2-0 up the game looked over, and we were cruising. Spurs had offered nothing other than one break in the first half when Defoe got in behind but was denied by Pepe. It was alarming the way the striker got clear though, and the warning wasn’t heeded as in the second half Keane went through in similar circumstances. He looked offside, but replays showed he wasn’t, and he kept a cool head to beat Pepe and ensure the reds keeper didn’t win the golden glove award.

 

His reaction to the goal showed a lot of class. He just put his head down, and walked back to the centre circle. Apparently a minority of people had booed him. I didn’t hear it myself, but seriously, why the fuck would anyone boo him? Just what goes through these people’s minds when they do shit like this? At full time he went over to every Liverpool player and gave them a hug, and had a chat with all of them. Not just his mates such as Carra and Stevie, but he even took time out to go over to N’Gog and had a little chat with him. He walked straight past Rafa though.

 

That goal put the cat amongst the pigeons, as suddenly we had a game on our hands again. More importantly, it made Sami’s chances of getting on early much slimmer. I think everyone in the ground was expecting him to get the last twenty minutes, and when N’Gog was brought on first there was an air of disbelief around me.

 

Keane’s goal came with 14 minutes to go, and despite the Kop constantly chanting for Sami’s introduction, Rafa remained unmoved. Then four minutes later Yossi made the game safe (another tidy finish from a player who - like Kuyt - has had a fine second half to the season), and that was surely going to mean Sami getting the call. But no, another three minutes passed until finally, with seven minutes to go he was sent on to a hero’s reception, fittingly replacing Steven Gerrard and reclaiming the armband that he had relinquished to him with such dignity all those years ago.

 

It was almost a fairytale ending too, as he rose to meet Aurelio’s corner and planted a header goalwards, but it was smuggled off the line by Gomes. When the final whistle went, and all the handshakes had been exchanged and the Spurs players had left the field, all eyes were on Sami.

 

Suddenly it was as though it all hit home with him, and he realised he’d never again be on this field as a Liverpool player. He put his shirt over his face, and then had his head in his hands. It was all too much for him, and even from where I was sat it was obvious he was in tears. I almost was too, I guess I didn’t think Sami would ever leave, but here he was, saying goodbye.

 

It seemed like a natural progression that he would just play for us until he retired and would then join the coaching staff. Maybe one day he will do, but he’ll be going to play in Germany first. Replacing Sami Hyypia is an impossible task. Players like that don’t come round very often. Sami joined the club in the same summer I started TLW. It’s going to be really weird not having him around next season.

 

So what of next season? Well obviously if we can cut out the stupid draws against shite teams, there’s no reason why we can’t go one better and win it. But if we are to have any chance of doing it, Rafa is really going to have to seriously up his game in the transfer market.

 

The additions made last summer have barely helped us at all. Not one of them would be in our strongest XI, and that’s pretty damning when you consider £40m was spent. 12 months ago our squad included Crouch, Riise and Finnan. All three are better than the players who have replaced them in the squad. So we still need to adequately replace them, and now we’ll need to replace Hyypia and Alonso too.

 

And in addition to that, we still need to address the problem wide areas. Getting 86 points was a good achievement, but Rafa has got his work cut out to even match that next season, let alone surpass it. If Gerrard and Torres stay fit for most of the season, we’ve got a chance regardless of who we bring in, but it’s asking a lot especially given the problems Torres has had.

 

This summer is going to be massive, and Rafa simply has to get it right. We’re just about clinging to our perch, it’s up to Rafa to make sure we aren’t knocked off it completely.

 

Team: Reina; Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Aurelio; Mascherano, Alonso; Kuyt (Riera), Gerrard (Hyypia), Benayoun; Torres (N’Gog):

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