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The facts, FACT


Sir Tokyo Sexwale
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'ere

 

Liverpool

 

Monday August 14, 2006

 

The club

Years since a trophy

It's a whole three months and counting since Steven Gerrard beat West Ham in the Cup final. But it's 16 years since the one trophy Kopites really desire: 11 more seasons of this and they'll have outdone Man Utd in the are-they-actually-worth-bothering-about-any-more stakes.

 

The bottom line

Rick Parry, sporting his best cheap suit and wig, is constantly on the scrounge for new investors. The club are short on beans, possibly as a result of the £859bn spunked by Ged "Medjani" Houllier.

 

An optimist speaks

Craig Bellamy and Jermaine Pennant click. Peter Crouch becomes our first 40-goals-a-season striker since Rush.

A pessimist speaks

Bellamy and Pennant end up in clink. Peter Crouch becomes our first no-goals-a-season striker since Erik Meijer.

 

Fans chant

Anfield always bounces to Rogers & Hammerstein's most famous showtune. Altogether now: The hills are al-iiiive, with the sound of musi ... hold on ...

 

Liverpool: the movie

Ever Decreasing Circles: the film. Smug successful Liverpool (managed by Peter Egan) constantly gets one up on frustrated but likeable neighbour Richard Briers's Everton. Light relief is provided by Howard and Hilda (representing Tranmere and Crewe).

 

Remaindered by Christmas

Clowning Around with Pepe and Bolo: Reina and Zenden on classic circus comedy. Agger D'oh! A DVD of Dan.

 

If they were a sweet...

 

Kinder Surprise

Far bigger in Europe than they are at home, there is definitely a prize in there somewhere just waiting to come out. But after much seasonal hype and the briefest promise of fulfilment their pretensions remain agonisingly hollow with a tendency to break easily and leave a huge potential for disappointment.

 

The manager: Rafael Benítez

 

Touchline type

Stands up in the technical area waving his hands in the air looking exasperated. Sits down in the dug-out waving his hands in the air looking exasperated.

 

Fans hate

There are vague mumblings about Rafa's transfer dealings. Crouch cost £7m, Pennant is a gamble and early sightings of Daniel Agger suggest the Dane has three feet, all of which are broken.

 

Will say

"We missed Stevie, who is important for aaaas. He always does a good game."

 

The players

 

World Cup report

Hats off to Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, who will forever be in the hearts of Merseyside's sizeable Irish community for their penalty-taking efforts against Portugal.

 

Line into McClaren?

Peter "Principle" Crouch has been promoted far above and beyond his abilities; England's new coach is bound to recognise a kindred spirit.

 

New boy

After a 63-year battle with the Home Office to get Mark Gonzalez his papers, much is expected of the speedy Chilean winger. A terrible anti-climax would surely be too painfully obvious.

 

Poll could show three yellows to

Unlike media favourite Stevie G, Momo Sissoko actually knows how to execute a tackle without appearing to soft-shoe shuffle all over someone's scrotum with his studs. He still picks up many more cards, though. Why is that?

 

Their Theo

Paul Anderson (17) hit the crossbar in last year's FA Youth Cup final with the sort of spectacular scissor kick not seen since the heyday of Mark Hughes - and has impressed close season.

 

Key Wag

Recent anthropological studies show that every woman within a 30-mile radius of the Wirral peninsula now looks exactly like Stevie's squeeze Alex Curran.

 

The tactics

 

Plan A

Since coming to Blighty, Benítez has sent his teams out in a Mourinhoesque 4-5-1, with the midfielders expected to carry as much goal threat as the lone front man. The arrival of two speedy wingers shouldn't change that tactic too much, if Rafa's Valencia was anything to go by - so Crouchigol should still get away with it, despite not troubling many keepers.

 

Plan B

Hoof it to the big bugger, Stevie! Not that hard, though. The ball's gone over the effing Kemlyn Road end again.

 

The ground

 

Getting there

Kirkdale station is just under a mile away from Anfield. Alternatively get a bus from Sandhills.

 

Being there

A former branch of McDonald's with a few seats on the roof may take up one entire side of the ground but, despite (or perhaps because of) being built in 1892, Anfield remains one of the most iconic and, on its day, atmospheric grounds in the world. So obviously the club are moving heaven and earth to relocate to a faceless hanger in nearby Stanley Park.

 

Title odds

 

8-1

 

The facts

 

Ground: Anfield Stadium, Anfield Road, Liverpool, L4 0TH

Switchboard: 0151 263 2361

Capacity: 45,490

Away allocation: 2,000

Ticket prices: £30-£34

Ticket office: 0870 220 2345

Disabled facilities: 0151 264 2221 (David Evans)

Club shop: 0151 263 1760

Official website: www.liverpoolfc.tv

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