You Will Never Walk Alone

You will never walk alone ….

The worst start in 18 years..

The British media and pundits (so-called) have already chosen the prime candidate…

THE MANAGER …. of Inter-Milan

You will never walk alone Rafa. There will always be wise-guys chasing you with one stick or another to beat you with even when you were snapped up by the European and Italian champions without a thought.

An undeserving draw against Sunderland (a team that failed to score a single goal at Anfield in last 10 years) saved it from being a worse start in 56 years. A game where the away team played like the home team. No creativity, no fortmation, no commitment and certainly no tactics.

You will never walk alone Rafa because “Experts” still think of you deploying defensive boring football tactics.

Not to forget the most embarrassing cup exit since 1959 to a 4th division side and fielding a side with almost zero experience.

You will never walk alone Rafa. English media still spares no opportunity to slate you for disrespecting the domestic English cups.

It is really amazing that so far I have yet to read a single critical news piece on our new manager. I can bet, if it would have been Pellegrino or Deschamps (both linked with liverpool job before Uncle Roy got it) the English media would have been jumping up and down slating the poor foreign chaps for not understanding the ENGLISH football and not respecting the local cups.

In my last blog on my beloved team, I said that I will stick to the new manager because that is the Liverpool way. But with every passing game I am trying hard not to lose my patience. My heart says stick to the manager but my head just points to the last 10 odd games (league,cup, Europe) and highlights the complete lack of creativity in the midfield, lack of possession, lack of fight (occasionally barring Steven ‘Long-Faced’ Gerard), lack of shots on/off target and absolutely no team-chemistry. I am hearing from every nook and corner that we need to give our new manager some time before we climb on the bandwagon asking for a sack.

I have my reasons to think otherwise.

My question to them is How much time does Uncle Roy need? So far there is absolutely no sign of ANY improvement in the way we play and the body language of certain players is even worse than it was under Rafa during last season. But then Rafa had supposedly lost the dressing room and Uncle Roy is supposedly the best Man-Manager around the league. I wonder why then Torress never celebrated the equalising goal that he created for Gerrard in the last game against Sunderland.

You will never walk alone Rafa because there are players including Kuyt, Torress and Gerrard who have publicly appreciated how much they improved under your supervision.

My question to them is Why it took a Liverpool Manager almost a week to defend his star player unfairly slated by Man-United’s Manager for theatrics and play-acting while conveniently ignoring one of his own player giving an Oscar-winning performance in play-acting!

You will never walk alone Rafa. There are fans out there who still love you for getting under the skin of Ferguson.

My question to them is did we give enough time to Rafa after his first ever poor season? Why is it that only now that an English manager is getting the poor results, the focus have immediately shifted to ever-present Owner and Finance issue? Oh, I think I have already given the answer in the question!

My Question to them is Why every manager (read ENGLISH manager) in the league is finding it so convenient to drag Rafa and blame him solely for the hard times the club is going through?

You will never walk alone Rafa because the ENGLISH managers here still think about you.

My question to them is, Given everyone is sympathising with Roy for losing with a poorly disjointed team he inherited from Rafa, would they appreciate Rafa once this team wins a significant trophy ? Or would that be solely down to the so-far-invisible management skills of our beloved Uncle Roy?

I am sorry, this blog was never suppose to be a Roy Vs Rafa blog, simply because we know who is going to win it hands down. As I said earlier, I am bound by our Liverpool way to stick with my Gaffer, but I am on the verge of losing my patience and I cannot see my club managed by a mid-table mediocre mind-set manager who proudly announces that he never came with a winning mentality against Birmingham and considers the “Mighty” Northampton of the 4th Division to be worthy opponents even before the ball is kicked.

I am sorry but I never in my wildest dreams ever saw this low coming. I will be mighty surprised (and disappointed) if we have the same manager in January 2011. Watch this space, you read it here first!

No Ball …

Noooooooo …. was the loud call. An innocuous call that just adds a single run to the team’s score and another legitimate delivery to the over. But this particular one went one step further. Literally and figuratively. It added £150k to a shady “Agent’s” pocket and allegedly £50,000 to Salman Butt’s wallet.

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the world of SPOT-FIXING!

For yet the umpteenth time we find the Pakistan cricket team making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. I just fail to understand, in fact I have completely given up, that why don’t this lot LEARN? What exactly makes them do all these stupid acts? Is it the Genes? Social Set-up? Whatever it is, it is about time we do something about it!

Pakistan cricket team and controversies go hand in hand since long time. Somehow they never cease to disappoint in this aspect. This team will continue to live up to its tag of “Unpredictables”. Credit has to be given to them. They find a different controversy every time. The list includes Wasim/Waqar ball tampering saga, Salim Malik’s infamous offer to Australians for Match-Fixing, Afridi’s pitch-dance, Inzi’s refusal to take field at Lords, Asif’s drug/dope charges, Afridi’s ball-biting, and now to Spot-Fixing. You just cannot think of what they will come up next.

Before I proceed, lets make one thing very clear. Match-fixing/Spot Fixing is an international threat. You cannot label this threat against sub-continental teams only. We have had confessions of Mark Waugh and Shane Warne for “selling” the information. We had Cronje and Gibbs confessing of throwing matches. Very recently the West-Indian batsman Samuels confessed his role in a betting affair and was banned for two years. There have been reports of players from almost every team being approached by book-makers and match fixers. But where other boards moved swiftly and placed a strict code-of-conduct, Pakistan’s board merely laughed off such incidents and never made a serious attempt to address this issue.

The allegations of Match-Fixing has been a part and parcel of Pakistan Cricket team for some time now. I am amazed at the naive reaction of certain officials and media in Pakistan where they have been denying these wrongdoings and presenting this issue as some mega-controversy master-minded by the British media and hold-on-to-your-breath, RAW (the indian intelligence services). I was almost rolling on the floor laughing when this one specific columnist on one of the Pakistan news channel came out with this “Genius” revelation. I would very much like to know what he has been smoking. I admit that on some previous occasions, there has been controversies that were created out of nothing but this time the evidence is as strong as it can get. A video featuring THE fixer who “incidently” happens to be the “Marketing Agent” of atleast 4 players. Ok, for a moment lets assume that this video IS fake and was shot AFTER the no-balls. But how on this earth can anyone explain the two most blatant no-balls you will ever see from an in-form bowler? I can expect that maybe from a Part-time bowler but not from a bowler who has been in the form of his life. You just cannot explain this massive over-step and that is where I am not in agreement with these over-patriotic columnists and officials. There certainly is something wrong in the camp and I strongly believe that its not only these 4 players that have been named by the fixer. I am 101% sure that the team management and the coaching staff is a part of this. How can a manager or a coach not know that 7 members (as boasted by the fixer) of his playing XI are in-fact under-performing deliberately? What makes me suspect this even more is that Ijaz Ahmed has been accused of match-fixing before. Waqar Younis has been found guilty in the match fixing probe as well and fined Rs. 1 Lac during the Justice Quyyum inquiry.

I believe that now is the time where everyone should leave their patriotism aside and look at this situation fairly in the light of evidence produced and the way these incidents took place. Salman Butt has been pictured with the Fixer (Mazher Majeed) on more than one occasion. Not all of these pictures can be fake. I have read some absolutely nonsense blogs dedicated to proving that pictures are fake. I can only say that those guys need their heads examined just like Ijaz Butt (PCB Head) and Wajid Shamsul Hassan (High Commisioner).

It is time to punish those involved in this shameful act regardless of the personalities. It is time for the Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK and the PCB Chief to shut up. It is time for Pakistan fans to stand up for what is right and not let their emotions get in their way. It is time to put down strict guidelines to avoid such incidents. and it is certainly time to save cricket from being tainted by such disgraceful elements. If only at the time of Justice Quyyum Inquiry, the guilty would have been banned for life, we might not have found ourselves in this mess.

I am hoping against all hope that PCB for once take the right step and put a life-time ban on anyone found guilty of fixing regardless of his reputation or personality or connections. Sadly, i have a strong feeling that this will be a false hope as the people heading this institution are all neck deep in corruption.