World of Sport: An insult to the ‘Dog and Duck’

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
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If only Match of the Day could call on intelligent former players with an ability to be controversial and coherent like Gary Neville.

It was comedy genius from Neville to predict that this weekend’s Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool will be like watching ‘The Dog & Duck v The Red Lion’, with due apologies to pub teams all over the country.

It’s funny because it’s so close to the truth.

If the CIA are seeking alternative torture methods, which I suspect they might be, I suggest they make their prisoners sit through recordings of United’s horrible display at Southampton on Monday night and then Liverpool’s awful effort against (irony alert) Swiss giants Basel 24 hours later.

United won only because The Saints delivered an error-strewn display. Liverpool lost because they were technically inferior to a team from one of the weakest leagues in Europe.

And because they fielded Rickie Lambert for 45 minutes. Liverpool appear to have signed Lambert on the basis that he’s a fan of the club - they’d have been better off signing Stan Boardman who could move just as slowly and who would also pass the ball to the opposition at every opportunity.

Liverpool’s problem is they still live in the distant past. There was once a time when teams feared a trip to Anfield because they were going to meet a passionate team and passionate fans.

They say the Kop End used to suck the ball into the net (usually after they’d frightened the referee into awarding a dubious penalty), but the home fans only came alive the other night after Steven Gerrard’s terrific free-kick.

For the previous 80 minutes Swiss folk, who are known for their civility and pacificity, were all the TV viewers could hear. Thankfully they didn’t yodel.

But then what is there to get excited about at Liverpool these days? The TV documentary that accompanied Brendan Rodgers’ arrival at Liverpool as manager suggested he was a bit of an oddball. Now he no longer has the dazzling skills of Luis Suarez to hide behind, I suspect he will struggle to find another top job when this one comes to its inevitable conclusion.

On the big nights you need your big players, but Gerrard, set-pieces aside, has gone and Raheem Sterling has regressed to the point where he looks little better than Lucas.

Mind you they might still beat United on Sunday. Louis Van Gaal’s side are flattered by their current third place standing.

Posh have been tough to watch lately. Our fans have been spoilt by excellent recent seasons that were based on dazzling, attacking football. A dip in standard has caused a disproportionate response from the loudmouths in the fan base.

God only knows how United fans are suffering now. They had 25 years of success with Ronaldo, Cantona, Giggs and Beckham and co.

Now they are forced to watch Marouane Fellaini.

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