Columnist Scott returns to our pages by popular demand, reminding readers of who the real royalty are in the City of Liverpool:
Neither Andy Carroll’s absence from the starting XI nor the prominent shade darkening the far side of the pitch could overshadow the brilliant sunshine that drenched the majority of Anfield, as Liverpool welcomed Newcastle on a cartoonishly pleasant Sunday afternoon on Merseyside. While the crowd was singing “Here Comes the Sun” (or they should have been, if they weren’t) as both a tribute to George Harrison’s most popular contribution to the city’s mop-headed quartet, and as a musical metaphor of the Reds’ recent run of form, Kenny Dalglish was caught, in an open-mic moment, calling Jamie Carragher “Little Darling” before going on to note that “it’s been a long, cold lonely winter,” but now “the smiles [are] returning to the faces.” Which comment proved to be an understatement when the overdose of all-natural vitamin D kicked in at the 10 minute mark, and Maxi Rodriguez extended his scoring streak with a volley that ricocheted in off a hapless Toon defender. And just like that, when combined with the criminal refereeing that spurned Tottenham and awarded Chelsea an ill-deserved win a day earlier, Liverpool was knocking on Europa’s automatic qualification door. Through the first quarter hour, Liverpool seemed very much in command of the contest, despite the 50/50 possession statistic. Glen Johnson, with hair seemingly shorter every game, was looking dangerous down the left flank in an inverse-Samson sort of way. And, in the 23rd minute, Jay Spearing launched at goal, with Dirk Kuyt and Raul Meireles following like jackals after scraps, but Tim Krul did well to keep the leftovers. The 30th minute saw some brilliant passing by Liverpool to move the ball up the field but Kuyt ultimately wasted the collective effort by never finding a shot, as he dribbled from sunshine to shade before crossing into a defender’s foot. Immediately after, at the other end, Spearing got a diluted taste of Heurelho Gomes’ bitter pill from the previous day when he was whistled for a corner that wasn’t. An aggrieved Meireles then measured 10 feet instead of 10 yards and blocked two efforts by Joey Barton, who was shamed by the vocal crowd into placing the ball actually within the arc of the corner. The first half ended with Newcastle seeing more of the ball but, aside from a lucky goal and a few clever passes, the period reminded me of a child’s violin recital – some good notes and quite a few bad ones which, ultimately, are appreciated only by the parents. My son presciently elected to play with his Harry Potter-themed Legos instead of joining me for a snooze in the Anfield sun. Blinking once, I nearly missed the half-time highlights which were so short they could have been a soccer segment on Sportscenter. The second half started with Johnson and John Flanagan swapping sides after the native son found Jonas Gutierrez tough to handle and picked up a yellow card for his efforts. In the 60th, Luis Suarez went down easily (although, to be fair, he was fouled, and had earlier stood strong in the box) and, of course, you can “Kuyt” it as a goal when Dirk steps to the spot. Then, just 5 minutes later, the Dutch national repaid Suarez’s rewarding tumble with an assist to the Uruguayan that put the game beyond doubt at 3-0. Although the crowd loved Carroll coming on for Maxi Rodriguez in the 70th minute, the follically fruitful striker blended into the bland. The 74th minute did see some pretty passing by Newcastle but Shola Ameobi’s poor cross was a whimpering manifestation of his team’s efforts on the day.
Although “Yesterday” they had a “Hard Day’s Night,” Liverpool is now working “Eight Days a Week” to “Come Together,” since “It Won’t Be Long” before they get a “Ticket to Ride” “The Long and Winding Road” through Europe . And all “Because” Kenny Dalglish gave them the “Help” they needed, so “Here Comes the Sun”, little darling.