Monday 22 January 2018

It's tough to live up to the romantic vision

Weird Wide World of Sport

Dave Devereux

Jurgen Klopp will have a tough task trying to turn around the fortunes of Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp will have a tough task trying to turn around the fortunes of Liverpool

Myself and the good wife celebrated our wedding anniversary during the week. Eight years no less - that woman definitely deserves a medal.

Apparently the gifts of choice for the eight anniversary are bronze and pottery. I do have a bronze medal from an under-8 100 metres gathering dust in a drawer somewhere, but I'm not sure the better half would be overly enamoured if she clapped her eyes on it after ripping open gift wrap that promised so much more.

On the pottery front I was thinking of recreating a Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore moment from the film that's mushier than the mushiest of peas 'Ghost', but the old hip swivels and rhythm aren't what they used to be and as the sage Shakira said 'Hips Don't Lie'.

Fortunately I discovered that there's also a couple of modern alternatives for the troubled gift hunter to choose from, namely linen and lace.

You can't beat a bit of fresh bed linen to add some comfort for the creaking bones, but I didn't think me snoring my head off while enveloped in duck down would be the most romantic of gestures.

With desperation reaching fever pitch my last hope was lacy underwear, but after traipsing around the whole town and trying several shops I couldn't find any that fitted me, so I just had to return to the default position of flowers and chocolates.

Things have changed immeasurely since we exchanged our vows on a Roman holiday, with a gang of friends and relatives in toe.

Recession was only a word whispered in dark alleys and smoky bars and the sporting landscape looked very different indeed.

Munster were the kings of European rugby and Dublin still had three years to go before ending their long wait for an All-Ireland football crown, as Kerry and Tyrone had a stranglehold on the competition.

On honeymoon I took a brief sabbatical from staring lovingly into my new bride's eyes to watch Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties in the Champions League final with an over-enthusiastic Italian commentator blaring from the television speakers.

Look where they are now - Manchester United fans celebrating winning the FA Cup, a competition they once shunned, and Chelsea are lower than a snake's belly in quicksand.

It's not just the two former European heavyweights though, English football as a whole is struggling to keep up with the big boys.

The unpredictably of the Premier League makes it entertaining, four different winners in the past four seasons in testament to that when you compare it to the one or two-team monopolies in the other major leagues, but in terms of sheer quality it is miles behind.

Manchester City may have made the semi-final of the Champions League this year but if ever there was a case of papering over the cracks that was it.

Their effort in the final four was like a Fair City actor trying to emulate Robert de Niro - completely out of their depth - and Pep Guardiola will have more dead wood to clear out than an overworked tree surgeon.

Last Wednesday night, Liverpool missed out on Champions League football with their second-half no-show against Sevilla in the Europa League final.

They may have been on the wrong end of some poor refereeing decisions in the opening 45 minutes, but the way they were completely outclassed and outmuscled in the second-half was worrying.

There seems to be an unwaivering belief among Liverpool supporters that when Jurgen Klopp gets his own players in, they'll go on to achieve wondrous things, not just the usual deluded 'next year will be our year' brigade, but the more reasoned fans as well.

He may have worked miracles at Borussia Dortmund, but bringing Liverpool back to anything like the days of their glorious past is an even bigger ask.

While Liverpool fans may gaze at Klopp doe-eyed like a love-struck teenager, it will take far more than a few amusing sound bytes and an honest interpretation of a game to garner any tangible success with the slumbering giant.

With Guardiola, Mourinho and Conte all pitting their wits against the German messiah next season there's no doubting he has a difficult job ahead, and the honeymoon period won't last forever.

Then the overly romantic vision of Klopp will either bloom like a dozen red roses or wither like an unwanted weed.

Wexford People

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