It’s a case of hoping and praying for the Irish lad who was minding his own business when caught up in a violent incident before Liverpool’s semi-final first leg win over AS Roma.
It’s a shame such an achievement by the team was marred by a mindless minority, and we then got off to such a bizarre start, what with the flag problems encountered by the far-side assistant at Anfield. It just goes to show how much we take things like equipment for granted sometimes, and luckily it had no effect on the players, at least none that I could tell.
I’ve snapped a corner flag in the past after trying to get a better angle in taking one, and I remember the delay in replacing that… which was far longer than you’d have expected.
Every time the electronic scoreboard goes up I also ask myself what the Plan B is, because part of my Youth Training duties as a kid at Crewe included cleaning the old boards with numbers painted on them that would be held up for substitutions!
The only really contentious moment concerning referee Felix Brych on Liverpool’s big night, apart from a possible foul before the first goal, was James Milner’s handball, which allowed Roma to make it 5-2 with a penalty scored by Diego Perotti.
For me it was definitely a penalty and I would certainly have been screaming at Herr Brych had it been my shot that was blocked in that way. What has muddied the waters slightly is how Milner has attempted to make it look accidental. That might well have persuaded a lot of the fans, but I wasn’t buying it and Brych got that call right for me.
A lot has been said about the naivete of Roma’s approach and I must admit that I felt they would be a lot more cautious instead of opting to use a high press which allowed such freedom to some of the most speedy and skilful forwards on the planet!
I just can’t see Liverpool not scoring in the away leg, and however much criticism is due to the way Eusebio di Francesco prepared his team, or failed to, we should remember that it still took a miraculous amount of effort to reach the levels of quality and intensity required to go five goals ahead in a game of this profile.
Praise where it’s due by the way, not only to Klopp for getting more physically out of his players in the second half of the season compared to last, but to all those working at LFC on the recruitment side. There were questions over the numbers paid for all the signings made since this time last year, but no one can argue that they haven’t all gone and delivered.
One of those players is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and it was a real blow to see him taken off with what looks like will be a long-term knee injury.
Knowing Roy Hodgson as I do, I had the feeling Alex would have started for England at the last World Cup Finals, only for him to miss those through damaged knee ligaments, so I really do feel for him, getting stretchered off just as Russia beckons.
Whatever the next month brings, and I do think this Liverpool team has momentum on its side as they head for a possible replay of the 1981 European Cup Final they won against Real Madrid in Paris, the overall progression has been huge and the future looks bright.