12 Mar 2008

Liverpool’s wonderful, fantastic, stunning, amazing victories against…the ten men of Inter Milan

Liverpool’s recent victories over Inter Milan in the Champions League are undoubtedly great results, but the team should not get too carried away and become prematurely overconfident.

Overconfident? Liverpool FC?! Surely not...!

It should be remembered that both results were achieved as a result of playing against ten men. At Anfield, Inter played a man down for 60 minutes, and Liverpool only managed to break through right at the end.

At the San-Siro, it was 0-0 again, with Inter looking dangerous before he referee gifted Liverpool the game with the ludicrous dismissal of Nicolas Burdisso.

Predictably, the media and fan websites are painting both Inter victories as glorious triumphs of an all-conquering Liverpool team. Indeed, Javier Mascherano labeled last night’s victory as ‘amazing’, but I just can’t see how beating ten men is something to get *that* excited over.

Over the two ties, Liverpool played against Inter's ten men for 100 minutes and still struggled to score goals or really dominate. Of course, biased fans will say Liverpool dominated both games, but the objective reality is different.

Once Liverpool beat a decent team with 11 men fair and square in the Champions League, then it will be time to get excited.

I still fear that Liverpool’s overconfidence and the players’ seemingly unstoppable compulsion to massage each others’ egos after every game will eventually backfire.

This morning, the barrage of backslapping is back in overdrive, with the players bigging themselves up again.

Mascherano gushed: “It was a very good result for the team and it is one of the best. It doesn’t matter who we get next. It will be a difficult game for us but it will also be a difficult game for them. After a result like this we have to believe that we can go further in the competition.”

Jamie Carragher joined the love-in: “We’ve proved it again - We’ve proved in the last three years we are as good as anyone in Europe.”

Inevitably, Steven Gerrard had his say: “We are a force in Europe. I don’t think anyone will want to get us in the last eight”

Yossi Benayoun and Ryan Babel added to the self-congratulation, which will no doubt increase if Liverpool’s good run continues.

I just wish the players would be a little more humble and let their performances do the talking, instead of continually bragging in the press.

I go on and on about this but for me it is a serious issue and a particular bug-bear of mine. Liverpool’s players boast more than any other set of players in Europe! If I’m wrong about that, someone please provide examples of other teams that are similarly in love with themselves.

Why can’t the likes of Gerrard and Carragher simply say low-key things along the lines of: ‘We’re pleased with the victory, but there are plenty of good teams still in the competition and we’re going to work hard to reach the final’?

It always has to be ‘we’re the best’ and ‘Other teams should fear us’ and ‘we’re all world class players so watch out’.

It was the same during last season's Champions League run; the self-generated hype after the Barcelona away victory and before the CL final was sickening. And ultimately, the team did not live up to its own perceived brilliance.

Let's hope the same thing does not happen again this season.


  1. First off Inter have been beaten once in the san siro all season by roma.they were hotly tipped to go far this year.So for Liverpool to go there with tactics spot on reina had only two major saves too make.Inter never really looked like scoring before they had a man sent off.Is that liverpools fault inter had a man sent off?They did an excellent professional job over the two legs and deserve all the praise from each other as this breeds confidance for the next round.your argument is a joke talk about clutching at straws for bad points in a job done well.

  2. You only reference last seasons Champions League run in hopes of adding credibility to your point... but many of the players you referenced used the same language leading up to the magnificent game in Istanbul that we won...at the highest level one most have a certain level of confidence and swagger to be or become a champion...granted we played the majority of the two games against ten men but many times 10 men can be more difficult to break down than 11...especially true in the first game.
    Bottomline...a win is a win...now on to the Quarters.

  3. Thanks for your comments, Ken.

    As I said in the article, both victories are great results, however you cannot escape the fact that both victories were achieved against 10 men! 100 minutes over two legs Inter had to play with a man down, and both dismissals were farcical and undeserved.

    Materazzi is admittedly an idiot who deserves everything that's coming to him BUT if people are being fair, his sending off in the first game was unwarranted. Torres dived and this contributed to the second yellow card. The first yellow was equally contentious.

    If the same thing happened to Carragher or Hyypia, LFC fans would be moaning about the injustice of it all, and you know that's true.

    Burdisso's sending off was also ridiculous. The second yellow was just a simple clash of players going for the same ball. If the same thing happened to Gerrard, fans would be foaming at the mouth.

    Winning against 10 men is not a glorious achoievement - it is a requirement in my view. Any team that does not win against ten men is not doing its job properly.

    And re all the praise - it is not deserved. It's only the second round! If it was the semi then perhaps it would be a different story.

    I would argue that the constant self-love just breeds resentment amongs neutrals and makes other teams more motivated to beat Liverpool. When someone is continually boasting about their abililty, you want to knock them off their perch - that's human nature.

    If Liverpool FC is all about arrogance, boasting and self-congratulatory backslapping now, then you can keep it.

  4. Anonymous

    You're right - a win is a win and it's great the club is in the CL quarter finals. However, it makes me ashamed as a fan to see players constantly bragging about their abilities and how great they are. That's not what LFC is about. But this is modern football, and ego-driven self-love is what it's all about. And the fans have to take a lot of blame for this, constantly worshipping and deifying the players like they're gods. It sickens me.

    I disagree with you about comments in the run-up to the CL final in 2005. Liverpool were massive underdogs and there was nowhere near the level of boasting as there is now.

    I liken it to pre-match boxing hype, where the fighters face off in press conferences and make outrageous claims about how great they are and how their opponent will siffer etc. It's hilarious when the boxer bigging themselves up gets spanked in the first round. Just makes them look stupid. Same thing will happen to Liverpool.

  5. Ok yes both victories were achieved against 10 men but thats down to the referee and of course if it was the other way around and a liverpool player was sent off i would be livid but thats the referee again.You can only beat whats in front of you!When the draw was made it looked a huge task as inter were on top form but we did what was needed.I also believe if inter had a full team for both games we woould have still got through as inter posed little treat in either games with a full compliment.
    I think you also need that unity and us against the rest mentality to go all the way in competitions like this.

  6. You're right, it is possible Liverpool would still have won the tie if Milan had 11 players. Then again, I'm not so sure. Losing a key defensive player after 30 minutes is a massive blow. Liverpool were at home in the first leg and still didn't capitalise on the man advantage until Inter were knackered in the last 10 minutes. The sending off all but neutered Inter as an attacking threat.

    In the second leg, even the most biased Liverpool fan would ave to concede that Inter had the better chances. Who knows what might have happened if Burdisso had stayed on the pitch?

    As you say, you can only beat what's in front of you, and Liverpool did the job. but enough of the 'we're the greatest and fear no one' nonsense!

    I would LOVE IT, just LOVE IT (Copyright: Kevin Keegan) if Liverpool were to win the CL again this season. I just can't see it.

    Against top opposition this season, Liverpool have struggled (Arse/manure/Chelsea) and it took refereeing advantage to beat Inter.

    The real test comes in the next round against quality opposition who keep 11 men on the field. If the team win the tie through performance alone, then I'll get excited.

  7. Nice one Jaimie! I reckon you will be getting excited next round!

  8. We can debate this until we are Red in the face...the fact is we are through to the next round and we will wait for the draw to see who we have thump next....whether its 10 men or 11 men, I like our chances. I think it is great to see the players holding their heads up and letting the world know they are proud of their individual and team achievements up to this point.
    Up to this point, it has not been the greatest of seasons on or off of the field so whats the harm in the players sticking their chests out little and being positive.
    Its all part of being a winner.
    Liverpool appear to be one of, if not the most, in form teams in the competition right now so I like their chances. Bring on Man Utd and we'll send them packing too....and I hope the players continue to let the world know they are confident and ready.

  9. There's a reason Inter were down to 10 men - and it wasn't because the referees decided that Liverpool needed the help. Torres' pace and guile had the Inter defense twisting in the wind. So we didn't score until late in the game - there's a reason Inter is top of Seria A, they're a very good side. But Torres had them worried and created situations where they decided to foul.

    I get it that you enjoy being the wet blanket on Liverpool fans, but you act as if we were given a gift by the refs. Torres is on the team, Torres caused the problems, Liverpool wins the game. If they don't foul him, he probably scores against 11 men, then what would you complain about?

  10. Fair enough the two sendings off were harsh- but I just have two points to make. 1. Let's not forget that Patrick Vieira too should have been punished for his hand ball in the first leg and won us a penalty. 2. Milan had enough chances- they just didn't take them.

    I do take your point about players being more modest- they should leave the praising to the manager. I'd rather have a team that does its talking on the pitch rather than off.

    Your point about the praise not being deserved and it only being the second round- I don't believe the media praised Liverpool for getting through the second round, I think it was more that we'd defeated a team who hadn't lost at home all season, just once away, and top of Serie A by 6 points. This is a great achievement.

    You mentioned in your article to provide you with a examples of other teams who are in love with themselves. Firstly- Chelsea. Recently John Terry has come out and said he hopes Chelsea can "keep attracting the world-class players that we have". He also said after the Olympiakos game that both Lampard and Ballack were two world class players. They were a disgrace in the Carling Cup Final with players demanding inquests if they were dropped from the team regardless of whether they'd been playing in the run up to the final.
    Secondly- Arsenal. It was only last week that Almunia was lavishing praise upon Fabregas saying "Cesc is only 20 but he already plays like a veteran". He added " We all believe in him and know he will become an Arsenal legend". Arsene Wenger's constant praise of his youngsters and vice-versa is in the papers almost daily and it does make me feel slightly sick.

    These examples should in no way validate the backslapping but just shows unfortunately it's the way players conduct themselves these days.

  11. Jamie, I don't know if you've ever played in a football team, or any other team, but success in sport is brought about by confidence. Since Liverpool have had an inconsistant season so far, is it any wonder that a string of wins brings a round of back-slapping. This sort of thing is natural in order to breed confidence. Look at what happened when Gerrard expressed his frustration at the team's poor league form - the vultures came out and all of a sudden he (Gerrard) was apparently destined for Real Madrid. It is vital within a business so heavily controlled by the demands of the media that each and every club projects a picture of total cohesion. After all, would you want to hear Carragher say; 'Torres ain't bad, but hes no Drogba...(!)'You look at any example where a player makes any even slightly negative comment about his club or team-mates. The press immediately jump on it and blow it out of all proportion. I'm not really sure that this whole issue is at all important, but i can imagine that some of our more fickle fans love reading about how great their team is! Lighten up a little and don't take everything you read in the press as the absolute truth!

  12. You can only beat the team that's put out in front of you. The fact is, its not every day that you beat Inter home and away v 10 men or 11. So I'll take the win. Who cares about the comments in the press. Do you ever bring up the negative comments made in the press about LFC before every big game - ie Mirror painting Xabi staying behind for the birth of his son as a rift between him and Benitez. Plus not that you'd remember but in 1965, Inter managed to beat us with 12 men in both legs, so even though its taken 43 years to even that score, I'll take it thanks. Any chance of an article that paints any fansite, player or performance in a positive light? Or would that dull the ratings?

  13. You're right, the team can only beat what's there. I'm happy about the win, I just called for less of a boastful 'we are the best so fcuk you all' response, which is basically what the players presented after the win.

    This kind of boastfulness is the antithesis of the traditions of the club. Liverpool has always been about humblenes in victory, not 'We're the best! We're better than you and the whole of Europe should fear us now!' after winning...in the 2nd round!

    I don't give a damn what the tabloid media write, hence the reason I don't comment on it. I don't read newspapers, broadsheet, tabloid or otherwise anyway. I prefer factual news, i.e. quotes directly from players or press releases from source, which is what I work with.

    And please don't patronise me - of course I remember 1965, and even though I was born in 1977, as a fan I've made it my business for the last 20 odd years to research as much as I can about Liverpool's history.

    And if you scan the articles on the site, you will find plenty of positive articles. Examples: Articles defending Peter Crouch and Sami Hyypia and Rafa; features about Liverpool's forgotten heroes and best ever Scottish/International teams. Positive articles abut CL games (Marseille) and Fernando Torres.

    I write lots of positive stuff. The biggest myth of all is that I am negative. I am not; I am critical. There is a huge difference, and once people understand why I'm so critical, then it's easy to see my articles in a non-negative light.