Seeing red over ESPN’s one-sided Anfield outlook
13:49 28 October 2011
I don’t think I’ve ever watched ESPN’s Saturday night football coverage before, and, unless City are on, I don’t think I’ll be bothering again as it seems to be Liverpool’s official TV channel in disguise.
That’s the only logical explanation for a pre game show that seemed to ignore the fact that Norwich were involved and was haunted by a hologram of Steve Gerrard which popped up at random intervals.
Added to that we had the inevitable camera shots of City fans in comedy wigs interspersed with views of elderly ladies to reinforce the subliminal suggestion that Norfolk people are either strange or quaint. It’s almost as sickening as it is predictable.
However, while the persistent condescension is annoying, City are dealing with it in the best possible way by getting the job done on the pitch, and on Saturday they produced pretty much the perfect away performance.
How many young sides have crumbled as they found themselves penned in front of a baying Kop by a Liverpool side playing at full throttle?
Certainly City rode their luck in the first 20 minutes, but that’s what you have to do in such circumstances, because the minute that self-belief starts to waver, the floodgates can open.
I think all of us in the bar where I watched the game feared the worst when we conceded with virtually the last kick of the first half, but we really should know better by now. Liverpool couldn’t have imagined that the second half would see them chasing the ball around the pitch as City’s players calmed the pace of the game before launching a series of counter strikes that could so easily have resulted in a win. That said, I’m sure that every single one of us would have taken a point if offered it before the game.
Of course, a lot of the post game coverage revolved around John Ruddy’s save from Suarez deep in injury time and this seems an apposite moment to talk about the big man.
Unfortunately there always seems to be a player who attracts more than their fair share of criticism on the fan forums.
I remember when Russell Martin came he was regularly disparaged as a half-decent League One player who had found his level. Two years later and he’s one of the most consistent centre backs in the Premiership and a Scotland international.
Ruddy has also been a focus for the moaners, and, in fairness, he made some high profile mistakes last season, but I challenge anyone to say that he hasn’t been one of the keys to our success this season.
One of the things that has really struck me is the level of individual development of so many players, which of course is a credit to the coaching staff, but also to the work ethic of the players themselves.
An average squad age of 24 helps, but it’s not just the younger players. Grant Holt has looked noticeably sharper in his last two substitute appearances and was immense at Liverpool.
Having been the kingpin for two seasons he suddenly found himself backing up Steve Morison, but rather than sulk he’s obviously worked hard in training and got his reward at Anfield. Compare that to Taarabt’s response to being substituted on Sunday or Tevez refusing to take the field.
Football is about character almost as much as ability and that’s something that this squad has in abundance, but it will be needed because there are no easy games in this league.
However, City have set their standards now and need to maintain them, starting tomorrow..