Wednesday, May 23, 2007

a dolorous stroke, but not a particularly exciting one

You bet I'll whine.

What is it about Pippo Inzaghi? He doesn't exactly make my skin crawl, but somewhere in the oldest, reptilian part of my brain the sight of him sets off an alarm: DO NOT TRUST. DO NOT TURN YR BACK. BACK AWAY SLOWLY WITHOUT LOOKING AWAY.

Do I hate his goals today? Sigh. Hate is too strong a word for such a stuttering, sidewinding disappointment of a brace. Turn back, if you will, to that old 2005 final: THOSE Milan goals are gorgeous. Kaka and Shevchenko delivered gorgeous set-ups that Crespo finished gorgeously. Three cheers all round. Even the wacky Maldini goal has an undeniable, expansive joy about it. Compare the limp, backwards clutter of goals today, Liverpool's included. After the first I was awestruck: I thought Pirlo's kick had curved around the wall and past Reina on its own, and I was prepared to worship the man like a demiurge. Seeing the replay and realizing that it'd come off Inzaghi's arm was a gross disillusionment. Had I been ref, I'd have disallowed it as a handball, which may have something to do with why they never call me to officiate at these things anymore.

Then there was the second goal. If, as Paul Doyle so brilliantly puts it in the GUARDIAN, Liverpudlians Pennant and Zenden were your neighborhood postmen, "you'd wake up every morning to find parcels in your shrubbery and letters strewn all over your lawn." To extend the metaphor, if Pippo was your mailman, the letters would make it to the box, but they, and, indeed, your lawn and garden might well be torn to shreds, since he doesn't give a crap about HOW they get there, and he'd deliver them by tank if he thought it more expedient. It was a goal. It was legal. It wasn't pretty, but it won the match. All well and good, I suppose, but it nonetheless makes me scowl.

Ah, Liverpool. Let's return again to that night in Istanbul, shall we? The thing was that they were SO outclassed; their first 50 minutes of play was nothing but a constant scramble. It's what made the victory a great one: one was left with a sense that the Reds had wooed and won the hearts of the Football Gods with sheer dogged persistence and big-eyed, childish yearning. Today's Reds were a better team technically. They felt older, more practised, perhaps more cynical. I wasn't surprised that they didn't win, but I was surprised that I didn't care all that much. Like the Football Gods, I remained this time unwon.

PRIVATE POST-SCRIPT TO MR. BENITEZ: For a start, get a strike-force, will you? I've always been anti-Crouch (I think since that hair-pulling incident vs Trinidad), so when even I am relieved to hear he's warmed up and on the touchline, something's wrong. What's even worse is when your winger is so bad that everyone agrees Harry Kewell will be an improvement. Look to it, please.

No comments: