Withe or Without You

Diego Costa is like a mard-arse version of Peter Withe.

Withe was a horrible, awkwardly shaped individual. All elbows, fists, snarls, confrontation and goals. He wasn’t shy in doling out his thoughts on the game of football, or to his opponents out on the pitch. Physically forthright, is how you could class him. Withe was infused with a certain self-worth about his footballing entitlement. Withe was a footballing lump-hammer.

Costa is a footballing lump-hammer. He’s horrible, he’s awkwardly shaped. All elbows, fists, snarls, confrontations and goals. Physically forthright, is how you could class him.

The difference between Costa and Withe; is that Withe was happy to take everything he dished out right back. Costa on the other hand is that annoying kid in the playground who wails on everyone, but cries to the teacher when someone hits him back.

I generally like a narky footballer. If Costa was a bit more willing to accept that what comes around, goes around, then I’d actually be in danger of liking him. We’d love him if he’d have been in Liverpool red. It’s OK to admit that.

Luis Suarez was a narky footballer in red, and we loved him for it. We’ve lacked a bit of narkiness since he left for Barcelona. While the ball belonged to Suarez, almost as if it were attached to him, Costa strikes the appearance of a man dragging a small dog alongside him when he carries the ball.

Narkiness will likely take Chelsea to the title this season. Narkiness on the pitch, narkiness on the touchline.

We certainly have narkiness on the touchline, but we need more of it on the pitch. As much as we obviously need a left back, and a stellar goalkeeper, just imagine a figure at the tip of this Liverpool team which is cut from the same cloth as the manager is?

Jürgen Klopp is a narky individual, and we love him for it.

January has been a difficult month. We won just one game throughout its entirety. A disjointed victory away to Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup.

We are no longer in the FA Cup. We are no longer in the League Cup. You could feasibly say we are no longer in the title race.
League titles aren’t handed out with 15 games to go. Chelsea will probably win it, but nothing is certain as yet. Should they win it however, it will be because of their narkiness. Well, that and their stellar keeper. The two major ingredients that we lack.

Arsenal have been too nice to win the title for 13 years now. That early to mid-noughties side of theirs had a bubbling narkiness to it. Alex Ferguson’s sides largely had heavy degrees of narkiness to them. The narkiness of Peter Withe went a long way into helping them to the 1980-81 league title and 1982 European Cup.

Liverpool FC’s glory days were powered by a furnace of controlled narkiness. Tommy Smith, Graeme Souness, Jimmy Case and Steve McMahon were the stereotypes, but most of their team-mates had a spine of steel and a willingness to weigh-in when the requirement arose.
Three home defeats in a week. This was something which signalled the end of the Roy Evans era at Anfield.

A mind-numbing loss at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers. This was something which went a long way to facilitating the end of Roy Hodgson’s reign of terror.

Despite a few misguided souls, and/or mischief-makers, there is no ‘Klopp Out’ sentiment in the air at Anfield. It would be ludicrous to suggest otherwise. This is still a project which is very much within its infancy.

We are a passionate collective. When we win, we rejoice. When we lose, we mourn. We’ve not won enough since the turn of the year. Not enough rejoicing, too much mourning. No-one has fallen out of love with Jürgen Klopp though. We are still heading in the right direction.
Remember that if we slip up again on Saturday at Hull City. All of the above will still be applicable if we lose on Humberside.

Chelsea on Tuesday night marked a run of 15 games in 58 days. Our final 15 games of the 2016-17 campaign will be played out over a much more sedate 107 days.

There is a stark difference between the two.

Over the course of the next 107 days (as of Saturday) we will not be losing Sadio Mane to the African Cup of Nations, and it has to be hoped that we won’t be losing Philippe Coutinho to a lengthy injury.

In the case of Coutinho, he is in all probability, still a fortnight away from his form and fitness being at top-note. He’s essentially had another pre-season to plough through to drag himself to match-fitness.

We are now allowed the concept of ‘concentrating on the league’. Concentrating on the league can reap rich dividends. In 2013-14 we were, by and large, allowed to concentrate on the league, and we almost went and won it. While that is likely beyond us now, we can still ensure as high a position as possible is obtained with ease.

We can meander our way to May 21 with potent intent. Play each game with high intensity and win. See where it takes us. We should have won on Tuesday. Once we do start winning again, I believe that we’ll quickly get into the habit of it once more.

No distractions at Anfield now. Chelsea are a different matter, with just the FA Cup to preoccupy them beyond the league, but Arsenal have Europe to go with the FA Cup, as do Manchester City. Tottenham Hotspur have those disruptive Thursday nights to deal with as do Manchester United, while both are still in the FA Cup and in Manchester United’s case there is a League Cup final to contend with. A nice fixture pile-up lays in wait.

If we can rouse ourselves on a game-to-game basis, like we did on Tuesday night, then it won’t be us who will be counting the cost of missing out on next seasons Champions League. We’ll get there, I’m sure of it. Yet, a completely different challenge will present itself to us next season if we do, and that elusive league title might just be that bit further out of reach, when we’re juggling campaigns both at home and overseas.

We’ll need to find that on-pitch narkiness from somewhere.


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2 thoughts on “Withe or Without You

  1. Great observation Scraggy. You’re spot on re the narkiness…..oh for a Souness,Case or Suarez in this side.

    1. Cheers Bob. All the talk of our need for a left back is shadow puppetry. If we had a Reina in goal and a Suarez at the top, this team would win the league.

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