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Anorak | The Liver Birds

The Liver Birds

by | 22nd, December 2005

‘GOD-LIKE geniuses come around in football only very occasionally. However, in former Valencia boss Rafa Benitez, Liverpool may well uncovered someone with powers not seen on earth since the days of Jesus Christ.

The soft spoken Benitez may not have been born in a manger or spent his early years on the run from the Romans, yet in turning Djimi Traore (amongst others) into a European champion, he made the changing of water into wine or the raising of Lazarus look like child’s play.

That spectacularly dramatic and unprecedented Champions League victory over the mighty Milan back in May also managed to persuade the previously want-away Reds captain Steven Gerrard to eschew a move to runaway Premiership champions Chelsea and stay in his hometown.

However, with a blank-chequebook in the back pocket of his cashmere coat, Jose Mourinho turned to Michael ‘bite yer legs’ Essien with a nonchalant shrug of his shoulders and the Blues continued where they had left off the previous season.

The self-appointed ‘special one’ along with Chief Executive Peter Kenyon spent most of 2005 like a pair of west London Goodfella’s, paying little heed to the authorities or traditional notions of fair play and provoking the ire of everyone from UEFA to Arsene Wenger.

Wenger, along with United boss Alex Ferguson could only stand and watch as their places atop the Premiership pecking order were taken by the nouveau riche Blues. Shorn of Patrick Vieira, Wenger’s blind faith in pre-pubescent imports has failed to worry anyone at Stamford Bridge. While the arrival of the Glazer family and the departure of Roy Keane has left Fergie angry and confused, accusing everyone of hating United like some paranoid mad old tramp who talks to the pigeons.

Another veteran boss who has enjoyed an interesting year is saggy faced veteran Harry ‘pretty-boy’ Redknapp. The twitchy Cockney pulled off a reverse turn even Johan Cruyff would’ve been proud of, returning to Portsmouth after leaving them for south-coast rivals Southampton less than a year ago. Who says loyalty is dead?

On the international front, Swedish loverman Sven will be sleeping a lot easier at night after being handed a piddly World Cup grouping alongside Sweden, Paraguay and Trinidad & Tobago.

It’s only a few months since English suffered that hideously embarrassing defeat at the hands of the mighty Northern Ireland, yet already the nation’s media have blanked out the Three Lions woeful qualifying campaign and are bigging up England’s chances of lifting the trophy come June.

One player who will be hoping for a decent World Cup will be impish England hitman Michael Owen. His excitement at returning to the Premiership after a reasonable period in Madrid turned to horror when he realised that Newcastle were the only big club interested in signing him. A repeat performance of France ’98 and Owen will be hoping for a move to a club with a chance of actually winning something.

Never one to eschew the chance of a party himself, the great George Best finally stumbled his way past the bouncers at the Pearly Gates leaving Paul Gascoigne to take over the mantle as the nation’s favourite footballing alcoholic.

With the former England idol out of work again after controversially losing his managerial post at Kettering Town, Gazza’s future looks anything but predictable. Maybe Rafa Benitez can resurrect his career, too?’



Posted: 22nd, December 2005 | In: Back pages Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink