Friday, April 6, 2012

Andy Carroll’s Self-Immolation and the Phantom Headbutt

Columnist Scott and His Fellow Reds
photo by Wonderlanevia PhotoRee

If Liverpool's exploits get any more embarrassing this season, Colunist Scott may have to move to Tibet....

Put aside the blatant handball by a Newcastle defender that cleared a ball off the goal line; put aside yet another strong start by the Reds; and put aside more near misses and sublime through balls (think Gerrard near the 56 minute mark).  What you are left with is a talented yet overwhelmingly underperforming Liverpool side which, with one nod of an alopecic head, has now jeopardized an FA Cup title which was to be, along with the Carling Cup victory, this season’s redeeming accomplishment.

What happened at St. James’ Park, nay, Sports Direct Arena, last weekend was a complete meltdown by Andy Carroll on par with Tibetan-protestor-style self-immolation.  Despite his modest upturn in effectiveness recently, the pony-tailed white elephant turned in an astonishingly embarrassing performance by missing chances and flinging himself to the ground at nearly every opportunity. But none was more blatant than near the nine minute mark when, after first very cleverly working his way to a one-on-one with Tim Krul, he tipped the ball just out of reach of the lunging Newcastle number one and....dove to the ground despite no contact and an empty net waiting!!??


That last acronym being exactly what I blurted out (in its less abbreviated form, of course) and, after settling down (a bit), managed to thumb into my iPhone notes. The moment seemed to encapsulate Carroll’s year - there for the taking but squandered, his yellow card justly deserved.

But if Carroll deserved his color of card, Pepe Reina, in my opinion, did not.  The wonders of YouTube and DVR allowed me to watch the “headbutt” no fewer than 20 times from multiple angles.  Yes, the Spaniard lost his head (hee hee) and, yes, his forehead did touch James Perch.  But the contact was so slight as to be a cranial kiss in many cultures, reminding me of the type of kiss I give my daughter after using our eyelashes for a “butterfly kiss” or our noses for an “Eskimo kiss”.

The force with which Perch went down to the ground with hands to face was disgusting and was only done for the referee’s benefit.  Mind you, if Luis Suarez had been the one to do it eyes would be rolling and shouts of “cheater” would be echoing still. But let me be clear, even though I believe it was the wrong call (a yellow would have been appropriate), I don’t blame the referee given what it looked like from a distance and from any angle but one.  It was like an actor’s staged, missed punch viewed from the side.  I do blame Perch, however.  His team was 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go and he deliberately tripped THE GOALIE as he ran from his net.

That kind of foul might be expected were it to happen at the other end of the pitch and committed by the other team but, come on, really?  And then, there he was ridiculously checking for non-existent blood, perpetuating the “pansy” label that gets slapped on soccer by its critics.  An embarrassment.

BBC commentator Colin Murray obliged his network to apologize for this gem – “When you get sent off for that type of lame headbutt, do you regret not sticking the head in anyway?”  Yes, Colin, the answer is yes.

 This is farlieonfootie for April 6

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