Friday, April 17, 2009

For a manager to show such gall and contempt for the game ... but which one?

Sam Allardyce, Blackburn manager and apparently also ambitious job angler seeking to become Jintao's No. 2 at Old Trafford, is plenty pissed about the way Rafa Benitez conducted himself after Liverpool scored their second last Saturday at Anfield. Allardyce had this to say about Rafa:

"The feeling was that he had written us off. It was open arms and then a ­crossover of the arms as if to suggest that was it. I admit it was a hard game, a difficult game for us, and we were well beaten by an outstanding Liverpool side. But in terms of respect, you don't expect those sort of things to happen in a game of football. I was very, very upset by it."

My guess is Big Sam must not have seen the match, despite his choice position so close to the pitch. The only offensive display visible Saturday was the one offered by Allardyce's players executing his game plan. I don't recall which commentator called the game, but deep into the second half the man did say something to the effect of: "With all due respect to Blackburn, I think Liverpool have had more difficult training sessions than this." The man was exactly right.

Blackburn on Saturday were embarrassingly negative. Allardyce had Benni McCarthy on the bench all day, and the South African was his only fit striker no less. But Benni is in the manager's dog house, so Allardyce played the giant center half Christopher Samba up front and told his players to hoof it and hope. They couldn't even do that, and Riera and Insua played their own version of the Samba down the left – over and over and over. At times, Riera and Insua appeared to be toying with Blackburn's right flank because the resistance from Rovers was nonexistent.

When Torres scored the second the match WAS OVER. Entirely. Blackburn had no chance of getting two, and a lucky first seemed beyond probable all day. But Allardyce didn't like how Rafa crossed his arms or something. Rafa has always described things as he sees them. He's a literalist that leans negative. He can find the lone cloud in the Caribbean. Any gesture Rafa made that could've signaled the match was over was because it was apparent to everyone.

Compounding Allardyce's idiocy is his whinge that Rafa did not accept an offer to share a post-match drink in his office. I'm fairly certain Rafa has never accepted an offer from any manager to have a post-match drink because he doesn't drink alcohol. "Oh, good lord, Sam. The man won't even have a drink with you! What has this world come to when this johnny-come-lately foreigner won't take part in this particularly genteel tradition of the English game!"

Spare me your fake outrage, Allardyce. You're lucky Liverpool didn't put 8 past that dispirited and disjointed 11 you trotted out at Anfield. Stop taking offense at developments that were of your own making and concentrate on keeping Blackburn up – and if that fails, finagling your way to Fergie's side as some kind of assistant toady.

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