I can't remember a more miserable week in the C Lge for English clubs. At the end of Round 4 our record looks like this P4 W0 D2 L2 F5 A7.
You already know my views on Brendan Rodgers' decision to wave the white flag in Madrid. Twenty four hours on I'm just as angry. What's making things worse for me is that some of our best writers in Fleet Street are beginning to swallow the guff that's followed by way of a defence. And some Liverpool fans! If Rodgers doesn't beat Chelsea this weekend there'll be more questions. And I'll be fascinated to see what team he picks. Why not the same X1 that apparently did so well in Madrid?
Did Mourinho complain about the 'library' type atmosphere at Stamford Bridge to deflect criticism of a limp performance v QPR? If so, he made a bad mis-calculation. Chelsea fans have snapped back, many pointing out that £47.00 is Chelsea's cheapest Matchday offering. I mentioned yesterday how English football treats its supporters as mugs. Mourinho has rightly back-tracked.
As for his team v Maribor. Let's hope it's a one-off and not a mini-slump, but either would be forgivable after their blistering start to the season. He's the one who makes fewest changes and it seems to me he has a brand new eight 'untouchables', who play most weeks. The game v Liverpool this weekend is a fascinating clash of 'philosophies' to quote today's modern coaches!
Manuel Pellegrini strikes me as a decent bloke. But is he the right bloke to try and bring together City's dis-functional dressing room? I still find it hard to understand how he made such a mess of last season's C Lge campaign. One more goal in Munich and they top the group. He didn't know. No-one on City's bench knew. He left Aguero sitting on his backside for 30 mins when they could've been chasing it. Unbelievable.
His first season was a 'free one' and a successful one, although until Toure came storming back with that towering performance at Crystal Palace it was all slipping away. Still, they won it and deserved to.
Now we have the same situation Mancini faced. Ive said many times - that dressing room is only ever a heart beat from meltdown. City's biggest mistake in recent seasons was not backing Mancini when he took them on. The owner allowed the dressing room to see Mancini off. At that point they lost all power. They might be about to start regretting what happened.
What do we put Arsenal's collapse v Anderlecht down to? Lack of concentration and discipline? Certainly.
A bad night? Maybe. Trouble is, there are too many of them.
Arsenal will finish top 4 for sure. They might pick something up at home again, but Europe? Forget it. I wondered whether Wenger might've walked at the FA Cup win last season. He's said he would've done had the lost. Perhaps it would've been best for him and Arsenal if they'd both gone in different directions? More than any other foreign coach he's done wonders for the English game, but after 17 seasons, maybe the time was right. He deserves to go, when HE decides to leave, with his head up and a hero to Arsenal fans.
But in conclusion - what happened this week? My feeling is we still have the best league in the world, the most exciting league in the world, but I'm sorry to say the best players in the world are mostly elsewhere now. Maybe there's part of the answer?
Sorry Brendan, I don't buy it. I couldn't believe what I was hearing when the team news from Madrid dropped last night. No Gerrard. No Henderson. Only four first team regulars - Mignolet, Skrtel, Moreno and Joe Allen. For a game in the Bernabeau against Real Madrid? Aren't nights like that what all the blood, the sweat and ultimately all the tears were about last season? Aren't nights like that in the DNA of a once mighty Liverpool - 5 times European Cup winners?
My long time friend Graeme Souness is very keen to remind television audiences all over the world of the teams he played in that 'won everything'. He's right. I watched them do it for four years working for the local radio station, Radio City.
It was a time of real achievement. A team that would represent club and country with pride. And win. And often with a squad of only 14 players. Bob Paisley, a three time European Cup winning manager, would have been spinning in his grave last night.
I know times have changed but one of Bill Shankly's great lines when asked about his team by a reporter was 'same as last season'.
Now Liverpool are reduced to 'developing in games' according to Rodgers. He went on 'I didn't see this as a big showpiece game where we have to play the big names'. Developing in games? Showpiece? It was a C Lge game that he should've gone to try and get something out of, with all his big names playing. That might have developed them. It would have developed the whole club and sent a statement to the rest of Europe - New Liverpool are back and it would've bounced them into the game against Chelsea this weekend in great spirits.
When Jose Mourinho played a weak team against Liverpool last season Steven Gerrard said he'd 'destroyed the game'. What on earth was he thinking last night when Rodgers told him he'd be sitting out the biggest game of Liverpool's season so far?
And what of the 5,000 Liverpool fans that spent hard earned money on travel, tickets and accommodation expecting to see their team out Real to the sword, just as they had done in Paris in 1981? Didn't they deserve better?
I'm afraid football in general treats supporters like mugs these days. With the billions coming into the game there's no excuse for the price of tickets, but that's another argument for another time. I think Rodgers owes those who went an apology.
I think we'll all look back on last night as either the beginning of the end of Rodgers' time at Liverpool or it will go down as the night he proved to us all that he really is a footballing genius.
I know which of the two I believe. And he is of the other opinion........