Do you hear the people sing?

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If you’re a fan of musicals – as I am – then you may recognise the reference. “Do you hear the people sing?” is a song from the imperious Les Miserables as the cast unite to defiantly let their oppressors know that they are ready for the fight.

I’m also a massive fan of soccer (see what I did there) and of course the Columbus Crew and this morning I was thinking about how “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the musical Carousel has been so influential in my life and how soccer needs more songs adapted from musicals.

As the ridiculously talented Neil Patrick Harris pointed out whimsically in his 2011 Tony Award opening performance “It’s not just for gays anymore.”, not that it ever was.

I thought to myself what would be the song to choose to encapsulate the defiance of our recent plight, so here is my offering. Maestro, if you please *clears throat*…

Do you hear Nordecke sing, singing our songs of black and gold?
It is the music of Columbus and the Crew is what we own.

Hear our song we saved the crew, tell all the people near and far.
This team was never yours, Columbus Crew is ours.

Credit: Louis F. Caso (image avec amour et respect a le tricolor)

Seattle it’s time to get Kraken!

Disclaimer: I know nothing.

First off here’s a quick look into my thinking when I pick. Who’s cheap and who is a 20/21 contract. After that it’s is there anyone available worth losing that precious cap over and why.

Anaheim – Volkov: Cheap, upside, 20/21Arizona – Fischer: see above but a little bit more expensive

Boston – Lauzon: same deal but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Clifton. Gutted Blueger wasn’t available here, well played Pens.

Buffalo – Borgen: Most people are going Miller here and maybe we do but I think we can get better players and experience elsewhere and I like Borgen’s potential and that and cap space are my main aim

Calgary – Giordano: I told you I could get experience elsewhere, I also get a captain, a first-line D who puts up points for fun, he’s everything we could ask for. I have a good feeling. Wouldn’t be upset to see Kylington as a second choice but this is where you make a move.

Carolina – Bean: Cheap and upside. I personally love Mrazek but I also think he wants to go back to Carolina and a deal will be done here.

Chicago – Zadorov: 3.2m is a bit steep but I honestly think the best is yet to come for him and I think he’ll suit the style we will play far more than Chicago and he’d be one I’d back to make the jump. If not, I’d take Delia as a reliable third choice keeper who would be happy to play that role.

Colorado – Donskoi: I like him a lot and if Landeskog wants to come, he can come on our terms in FA. If he doesn’t best of luck elsewhere. Donskoi is the pick here and if not JT Compher. There’s no reason it should be Landeskog to my mind.

Columbus – Domi: There might not be a more underrated player in the NHL right now. This guy had a horrible year in Columbus (though most attacking players do under Torts) but is two seasons removed from 72 points! I see no reason whatsoever he can’t find that form again. No brainer this one.

Dallas – Mascherin: Did any team do a better job giving you less to pick from? You have to take a shot in the dark here and given his AHL performance, this is my pick. Could be anyone. Well played Dallas.

Detroit – Svechnikov: Obvious low risk, high reward candidate. May just need a change of scenery. If not it’s Stetcher and I wouldn’t be unhappy with either.

Edmonton – Benson: This is another I’m not so sure about. I like Benson’s potential upside. Maybe it’s the more experience Turris? Or perhaps they shock us all and stash Klefbom? I’m sticking to my formula.

Florida – Nutivaara: Just wait a minute, hear me out. Driedger being done is one of the worst kept secrets in the NHL. So why would you ever draft him when you don’t need to? Speak to him and explain he’s your 1A and the deal is done but you want to maximise value for the team which is beneficial for him also. Then take Nutivaara and sting FLA twice.

LA – Clague: Could be anyone of Athanasiou, Wagner, Lizotte or Clauge but I went with Clague. Roll the dice people.

Minnesota – Kahkonen: I can’t believe he is up there. Yeah Soucy would be a nice addition but Kahkonen a few years from now is a potential game winner. Talent is off the charts, he just needs to put it together. Minnesota could live to regret this, let’s make sure they do!

Montreal – Kulak: In the words of Crowded House “don’t dream it’s over” it never really began Price will not be coming to Seattle, no chance, no how. He’s too expensive and either has or is making up injuries to stay in MTL. You don’t risk that for a 33 year old who has been up and down and who MTL have ran into the ground and do no favours with their style of play. Kulak is a nice sensible option to round out the team. The more realistic potential risk is Drouin but it all depends where his head is at. Whatever Drouin decides, best of luck to him. It’s okay to not be okay.

Nashville – Jarnkrok: One of few I’d be disappointed if we didn’t get. Just love his game. He does the dirty work well. Big body, out performs his contract, great attitude. Exactly the kind of player we should be looking at and even has that important 20/21 contract. Get him! Yakov Trenin might be another option and nothing against him, I just want Calle.

New Jersey – Bastian: He needs to work on his toughness but has the tools to be an absolute menace on the boards. One for the grind line. Ron will toughen him up.

New York Islanders – Bellows: Probably the pick I most expect to be made. Bailey and Eberle are nice but I believe we’ve got a window in mind and they don’t fit it.

New York Rangers – Gaulthier: Again I was quite surprised to see a 23-year-old with his upside but then Dolan always has known the price of everything but the value of nothing. Let’s show him what players can do when you bother to coach them instead of see them as parts.

Ottawa – Daccord: Could be an okay pick … get it? There’s nothing I see of value in Ottawa other than this goalie who could go in the system and find his way playing in AHL. Seems a smart pick.

Philadelphia – JVR: I thought about Gost, but we’re going to be a puck-possession team and he gives away the puck too much and he’s also a bit weak against bigger forwards. Neither of these fit who we are and I’m not sure you can change who he is. JVR is JVR, he’s a professional, he’s reliable, he’s not going to lose value and he’s a smart pick here.

Pittsburgh – Tanev: Real surprised to see him up there. Has the kind of edge we are looking for, oh to see him and Jarnkrok on the same line … Please! Along with Jarnkrok he’s too perfect to not take!

San Jose – Gambrell: Sort of a local lad. Cheap, upside, has an edge. I like it. Could be Donato but I’d like to see Gambrell here for who we are. Maybe Simek … hmmm

St Louis – Dunn: Tarasenko doesn’t want to be here, he’s not going to be the player he was for the amount of time we would need him to be in my opinion so unless we have a trade sorted with another team it’s Vinny boy on the blue line and I’d be happy with that.

Tampa Bay – Johnson: WHAT?! Yes there are more talented players to choose from but I see no way that TBL looking for a threepeat don’t give us an offer we can’t refuse. I’m thinking to pick Johnson they agree to let go of Colton/Joseph, maybe both or some kind of draft picks. They will sweeten the pot and we’ll take it. If not, we’ll take Gourde or Palat and they don’t want to lose either.

Toronto – McCann: I don’t think Toronto care enough to be offering up enough for us to not take McCann. I believe they did the deal to protect Holl, who I wanted, and McCann is a sacrificial lamb to them. If I’m wrong and they want to protect him then we will take Kerfoot and a sweetner. If they want to protect both, the pot gets sweeter still and it’s Dermott. Either way we can’t lose against Toronto in this draft.

Vancouver – Lind: Cheap, upside.

Washington – Vanecek: Another short-sighted short term move that we should make a team pay for. Put Kahkonen up against Vanecek for that number 2 goalie spot and whoever wins, damn that’s a nice 1-2 combo.

Winnipeg: Appleton: Pretty straight-forward here. I do like DeMelo but Appleton has greater upside, is younger and cheaper so … There you have it, my completely pointless draft. Hope you enjoyed because in the end, that’s what all this is about. I have complete faith in Ron … as long as he gets Tanev and Jarnkrok

Barca need to remember who they are

I’ve written some pretty derogatory things about the direction Barca were going over the years. A lot of people thought that’s because I was a Liverpool fan. It wasn’t.

In fact, while we are on that subject it’s important people realise there is no rivalry between Barcelona and Liverpool. The people of Barcelona know this. They came to Anfield, they sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and they applauded albeit in shock when Liverpool overturned what seemed like an impossible deficit.

Proper old school Barcelona fans are a class act and no matter how much social media tries to create animosity, it’s not actually there and both teams and fans hold each other in high regard.

Historically even, there were men from Liverpool who chose to fight against Franco, something many Catalans have not forgotten.

I’ve been a Liverpool fan for three decades now. I love the club with all my heart, but in recent years I’ve fallen out of love with watching Liverpool.

This is mainly down to the Premier League and the “win at all costs” mentality and down to who I am as a football fan.

We all want our teams to win but the best explanation I can give of the type of fan I am is that I enjoyed football more when Liverpool were playing what Klopp referred to as “heavy metal” football and not winning the trophies we went on to.

“So you’re a loser” perhaps, but more so I’d want Liverpool to continue in this manner and win.

I’ve written about it before but when Klopp came to the Premier League he was a free spirit, his energy was boundless and his style of football clear.

Maybe Klopp needed to win at all costs for his legacy, maybe after the harsh defeats he’d suffered and he did that. I’m happy for him and Liverpool but I feel like the league moulded him into something he was not.

Klopp used to love being the underdog, he thrived off it and it’s why the best Liverpool performance and most like him in recent years was overcoming Barca at Anfield.

Part of the reason Liverpool fans go on about that so much is that to beat Barcelona is about as good as it gets. Every Origi gif is actually a huge compliment to the Blaugrana.

I’m loathed to talk about him, especially in a positive way (read my other posts and you’ll see why) but one thing Guardiola has over Klopp for me is that he refused to bend to the league, instead he made the league more like what he had known.

He made it common place in England that goalkeepers play like sweepers (he didn’t invent it as a lot of people have said but he did bring it to England)

Klopp getting the better of the likes of City and United doesn’t get the credit it deserves when you look at the wage budgets and net spend.

You’re here for Barca though, right? Well Barca are a shitshow thanks to Bartomeu. The reason I gave all that abuse Barca’s way? Him. I’d say I’ve been proven more than right.

He turned Barca into a poor man’s Real Madrid with high transfer prices and high wages paid to players who had undoubted quality but were square pegs to be fitted into round holes.

When you think back to Barcelona at their very best, they had indupitable style. Players from the academy who knew only one way, the Barca way.

How do Barca get out of this mess? Players like them. Busquets, Araujo, Pique, Pedri, Fati, Mingueza, Moriba and those to come like Gavi et al. No offence to Alba who is now Barca through and through and De Jong who is perfect for the club as they are the kind of supplementary signings that bring it all together.

This is where Barca will find themselves again. I’ve admired Barcelona for decades. They were never my club until now because I didn’t want to jump on a bandwagon.

A billion in debt with a manager I’m not sold on and a 34-year-old Lionel Messi is hardly bandwaggoning I would venture to suggest.

With the addition that I will be studying and if all goes well working and living either in or near Barcelona, it really was a no brainer. I guess fate decided for me in the end.

Cruyff summed it up for me in regards to how I see football:

“Quality without results is pointless, but results without quality is boring.”

I think it will be a while before Barca are going to be winning in the manner they have in the past but if they commit to playing the Barca way, the Cruyff way, the Rinus Michels way, the Ajax way then Barcelona will not only be back on the top of the mountain, but they’ll be there playing the most beautiful brand of football there is.

In an era where football is more about winning than ever before and substance seems less and less important to people, Barcelona are the perfect club for me because they can only be Barcelona if they mix style and substance.

Visca Barca, visca Catalunya!

The battle is ours, but the war is far from over

The Crew will be staying exactly where they belong, in Columbus, Ohio. It’s been a long hard road but here we are, right back where we started.

I’m delighted don’t get me wrong but where we are, is where we started.

There’s no doubt it was a huge achievement to save the Crew and I would like to personally thank each and every person that did their part including of course our new owners the Haslam family and Dr Pete Edwards.

The sad fact remains though, if this could potentially happen to a founding member with the history and roots that the Crew have in MLS, then no one is safe.

The league is broken. I’m not pleased that we are staying in MLS, I’m ecstatic that we are staying in Columbus.

The people of Columbus and how they rallied around their team are why I will always be proud to call myself a fan, I simply can not say the same of Major League Soccer who put these people through hell.

The MLS is an extremely entertaining league, more so than I ever could have imagined when I first became a fan this season. Like North America, its diversity is its strength but like America, not everyone can see that.

Taking my Columbus hat off for a moment, it is simply amazing when you think about it to watch a team like the Montreal Impact play the LA Galaxy, the contrast is immense.

Which other league in the world can you find teams from two so vastly different countries with different languages, cultures, governments and even climates facing off against each other?

And yet, despite the most unique of unique selling points, MLS is destined to fail.

Why? Because Don Garber never learned his history.

I’m extremely interested in the history of the American Mafia, be it Chicago or New York. I don’t claim to be an expert on it, far from it but what I do know is that the founder of the American Mafia was Salvatore Lucania also know as ‘Lucky’ Luciano.

Now, agree with his methods or not – and obviously, I don’t – this man was a visionary. He saw chaos and brought order, albeit for a short time. What Lucky did was he created a commission, a group of bosses from the five heads of the New York Crime families and also Chicago and Buffalo.

What Lucky saw was the opportunity to make the most money for himself with the least risk to himself creating more risk to his competitors. Until he was extradited to Italy by the US government it was all going to plan.

Ultimately this system was flawed and doomed to fail just as it did. The reason was simple, no matter how well-intentioned it was to Lucky, his business was built on greed and the most hostile of takeovers was never far away.

If we take away the characters, the colourful adaptations of the history of the Cosa Nostra does any of this sound familiar?

Enter our personal protagonist playing the part of Lucky Luciano, Don Garber. Like Lucky, Garber stands at the head of a commission, the MLS’ Tutto di tutti Capi or boss of bosses. When you strip it all away, that’s what he is.

In MLS, no one is able to move on anything without his say so. Then he has his underbosses or the head of his 23 families. Each one is allowed to make money on Garber’s terms and of course, a percentage gets kicked up to him.

Sadly one of the underbosses (who claims he isn’t a boss at all as they all did when caught in nefarious actions) decided he wanted to move on from his current business but he’d have to ‘whack’ a city to do so. After a sit down and with tributes paid, the deal is done and the Columbus Crew are now due to be sleeping with the fishes.

Knowing what you know now about the Mafia, knowing how that business structure operates, would you still be swayed by the riches and lifestyle? Or would you look for something more sustainable and honest?

They say those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, well I can only see one outcome for MLS and it isn’t long-term success for anyone but Garber.

What about Atlanta? Well, what about them? They are doing well both on and off the pitch and they have people flooding to the stadium and they show that Garber’s way works, right?. Well no actually it doesn’t. What it shows is he’s doing what he always did and he’s getting what he always got.

Columbus was an unmitigated success at the start, as were DC and then expansion sides like Chicago. Where are they now? Well, you have certain fan groups in DC being given preferential treatment and others being left to ‘die’, at least that’s what the DC ownership want whether they will admit that or not.

You have Chicago fans being banned from their own stadium and other fans boycotting in support and others just fed up with how the club is run as a whole.

Then we come to my beloved Columbus Crew. In Columbus, it’s the end game of what the league wants. There is no loyalty, they wanted to move to what they see as the more prosperous area of Austin in spite of the promises they made to the people of Columbus. In spite of the years of support, these people gave the MLS in its infancy, despite the fact that if it wasn’t for them and fans like them across the league there would be no MLS.

Each lack of advertising, each facility in the stadium left unfixed, each lie about attendances as Columbus fans tried desperately to support their team in the face of a league that insulted them daily, it must have been like a death of a thousand cuts.

I became a Crew fan in large part because of the Save the Crew movement, but now I wonder, what exactly were we trying to save or achieve? To go crawling back to a league that has shown us nothing but disdain? If this was a relationship, PSV would have been arrested and tried for domestic abuse. Why are we so desperate to return to that?

So we have new owners, that is amazing but really after the way the league has treated the city of Columbus, why would we ever want to help them again? So we can try and compete with what they see as the ideal, Atlanta United, a team that doesn’t even have a dedicated soccer stadium?

As a football purist, the game will always come first for me and while there are many things to be admired about Atlanta such as their fans, their team and the football they play, equally to me they are still a side that plays in a non-soccer specific stadium without grass.

If Garber knew a thing about soccer and cared about his players and his league, that would be one of the first requirements to be part of MLS. He doesn’t though, he never has and never will.

So is this what we fought for? To crawl back to a league that shows us nothing but contempt?

I saw a lot of Chicago Fire fans sticking up for the Crew in spite of the rivalry and it did the heart good. I also saw a lot of Fire fans who were poking fun at the current plight of Columbus.

I get it, it’s a rivalry and these things will happen but these fans would do well to realise that the issues they are having with their club are part of a wider issue, the league itself and the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

So what do I want? Well imagine the fans who built this league all left the MLS, imagine those diehard Columbus Crew, DC United fans and Chicago Fire fans all walked at the same time. Imagine Garber and his cronies got what they think they want.

Imagine a challenger league where teams with die-hard fans of the biggest most well-supported teams in America, teams that play on grass, teams that take back a working class game where atmosphere and controlled passion is welcome and not suppressed, where you aren’t at risk of being ejected from a stadium for swearing.

You want to see what US Soccer could be, take a look at Detroit F.C., fan owned by locals who would never sell out to what MLS is – at least I sincerely hope not. Look at their dedication, the atmosphere they create, the love of their team. Fans from the state of Ohio famously sing “we don’t give a damn for the whole state of Michigan” but where soccer is concerned there should be a caveat in my opinion.

It wouldn’t be easy, it would take time and there would be challenges along the way but you would have what every American claims to be the most important thing in their country. Freedom.

What price freedom?

I’d love nothing more than for MLS to realise the opportunity they have, to run this league in a manner befitting the dedication of its fanatical core fanbase.

MLS is an excellently marketed product and is sold very well, just like you would expect from a business that seeks to exploit it’s ‘customers’ but look a little deeper and you can see that this is certainly an offer you can refuse.

European “Super” League – the Red Pill Edition

In 1999 the Wachoski Brothers created something special. The Matrix has been used over and over again to explain conspiracy theories, and if it ain’t broke then why fix it?

First off, the term conspiracy theory doesn’t exist because conspiracies aren’t a thing, it exists because they are.

“Choice is an illusion created between those with power and those without.” – Merovignian

The outrage at those who have perpetrated and are involved with the European Super League (ESL) is warranted but a more important question to ask is, why did it take this long?

We didn’t see it when Manchester United floated on the stock market. We didn’t see it when former Liverpool CEO Rick Parry’s brain-child, the Premier League, was born and Sky Sports/ Rupert Murdoch got far too much of a controlling stake in the game.

Nor did we see it when Chelsea allowed an Oligarch to buy a club in the league, or when Taksin Shiniwatra bought Manchester City despite him being so corrupt that a coup d’etat by the Thai Royal family removed him from office.

If you were still deluded enough to have any belief in the so called “fit and proper” test, that was annihilated when Sheikh Mansour, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE (just one of his many titles) and member of the Royal Family of Abu Dhabi was the man allowed to take over from Shiniwatra. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire.

So that’s an extremely brief chain of the most important events.

“You think that’s air you’re breathing” – Morpheus

When the news broke about the European Super League, I was shocked, I was angry but I wasn’t surprised because this was the logical conclusion of the events mentioned above.

There’s a reason that half of the 12 are Premier League clubs, because we have the most cut-throat opportunists in the world and they’re here because of what the Premier League always wanted to be more than anything, flithy rich at any cost.

Of course the other callous money grabbers who have fleeced their fans and used their loyalty and passion as a weakness to exploit them wanted in the league that made this debauchary an art form.

So as the gasps went up around the football world, mine was less pronounced because I’d already started to question football’s matrix.

I’m of course not alone in that, but there’s not enough of us sadly.

Then came the moment for me to actually make a decision. I stopped watching the rest of the Premier League earlier this season but I made an allowance for Liverpool. I did this in spite of them getting into bed with AXA who financed the murder of Palestinians.

“Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize, just as I did, there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” – Morpheus

I became part of the problem and used the same flawed rationale as those who I was rallying against. I have to own that. My logic to try and keep a tenous grip of the love I had for the sport that had given me so much was that Liverpool weren’t directly responsible. It was the same cognitive dissonance that those who got us here displayed and I became one of them.

“It is remarkable how similar the pattern of love is to the pattern of insanity.” – Merovingian

I’m almost glad Liverpool decided to do what they did for two reasons. From a personal point of view, there is no defence for it, I won’t even try and I don’t want to, and with that realisation came a freedom from what little of my hypocrisy was left.

From the point of view of football, this is a pivotal time where we can remember why we support football and what if anything we intend to do about it.

“What do all men with power want? More power.” – The Oracle

The problem is, this isn’t about the ESL. FIFA/UEFA wanted exactly the same thing as the ESL is promising, they are just more clandestine and subtle about how they will go about implementing it.

Also, there is the small matter of FIFA turning up, taking money from countries, paying no tax and changing their laws. In 2014 they decided that the laws that were previously in place were not to their liking. Brazil had banned alcohol sales in stadiums because of the link to the amount of deaths. FIFA decided that was a no-no and changed the laws of an entire country to suit them and their sponsor Budweister.

They also decided that the 2022 World Cup was to be held in Qatar. Given the feasibility of this, they may as well have decided to host it on the sun. They changed the season in which the World Cup takes place and gave Qatar a deadline. A deadline Qatar reached through slave labour and abysmal “working” conditions which contributed to the death of 6500 construction workers …. and counting.

Guess who owns “P”SG by the way, a club some people are incredibly lauding for deciding to not join the ESL? That would be Naseer Al-Khelaifa, Minister without Portfolio of the Qatari government.

He also is the CEO of beIN media. As Jim Morrison said, “Whoever controls the media, controls the masses”.

These are the most evil people on the planet and between them they run what we call our “beautiful game”.

They position themselves as the saviours of the game (just as Perez incredibly tried to) but they are the same organisation that in their new Champions League tournament want the richer clubs to have a access to 3 of the new 4 spots and they hide this behind “co-efficients”.

It’s just another more subtle attempt to ring fence and get the games they want, same as the way they seed teams to give the bigger clubs the best chance to get to the final.

Speaking of finals, they sell the majority of tickets to corporate sponsors while we, the life blood of our clubs are left to scramble for the crumbs from their table.

Uniquely as a Liverpool fan, I got to experience what fans of the “smaller clubs” have to go through to get to the Champions League proper even before the seedings lessen their chance of winning the competition. This happened as Liverpool won the European Cup in 2005 but did not qualify for it in 2006.

There is a debate to be had whether or not the rules should have been changed for Liverpool. I believe they should have an I can say that without any bias now as I don’t support Liverpool any more. I would have hated to see any club that won the competition not have had the chance to defend it. That’s the truth.

As Gianluca Vialli said “Is Champions League, without Champions, would just be League”.

I loved that quote at the time, I then saw what he said next which was absolute madness.

Vialli didn’t just want Liverpool to be in the competition, he thinks the winner of the competition should just go straight to the final every year. As crazy as he was to suggest this, don’t let the owners get wind of this ….

“The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease. A cancer of this planet.” – Agent Smith

The European Super League as bad as it is, that’s just the “sound of inevitability”, it’s a symptom but the disease is the greed that runs through football as a whole and just like any organisation – like say, oh I don’t know the mafia – if extreme wealth is obtainable then you’ll always find the same kind of people ready to exploit others to get their piece, if not the whole pie.

You want to know who is responsible for this and the owners are the most convenient scapegoat for all of us but it’s time you knew the truth:

“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” – Morpheus

We are ALL to blame.

The owners prey on hope:

“Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness.” -The Architect

We hope we’re part of something bigger than ourselves by supporting our football clubs and when we get together as a collective to do something meaninful, we can be and that’s what they fear most.

“That’s how it is with people. Nobody cares how it works as long as it works.” – Councillor Hamann (no not that one)

Gary Neville was somehow a hero of the people and a potential saviour of the sport when he spoke out about how this is the “death of football”.

That’s the same Gary Neville that works for Sky Sports, the same Sky Sports that have so much influence they decide what time games are played and their TV contracts were instrumental in destroying football. The same Gary Neville I don’t remember speaking up about the human rights abusers who took over the league but who worked for a company and joined them in profiting when they did …

Up until now, it “worked” for him and he, like the majority of people associated with English football and the media that run it, were identifiable only through their silence.

I’m not saying he’s a bad person by any means and I will give him nothing but credit for opening up his hotel to NHS staff that needed it. I just don’t think he’s got much credit in the bank when it comes to standing up to football greed.

Same for Carragher, Lineker and the rest of them who now suddenly have a voice about what is “right” and “wrong” when it comes to football.

Of course they were all in such privelleged positions that had they spoken up earlier, they could have made a positive difference. What do they really want out of this? To go back to the way it was, that same unsustainable model that favours the big teams and TV contracts or to actually give football back to proper football fans?

“I’ll show these people what you don’t want them to see. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible.” – Neo

The good news is, there is a different way but we all have to want it and fight for it. A world where football belongs to the fans is possible. It’s up to men much smarter than me to figure it out but I might suggest that it is based around the 50+1 model in Germany only with no grandfather loophole, no special treatment and a structure where money is shared equally aside from prize money and if TV wants to cover it, they do so on our terms, not theirs.

“Ever have that feeling where you’re not sure if you’re awake or dreaming?”

Time to wake up, Neo.








You do it to yourself and that’s why it really hurts

Football is dead. It has been on life support for some time and last night 12 clubs – and there will be more who will tag on – just decided to pull the plug.

I’ll start with “English” Football, given that’s where I live.

In 1991 Manchester United floated on the stock market. It felt wrong. There are those that say Liverpool fans like myself were “jealous” and many of us no doubt were, but I was honestly not one.

I was envious of Manchester United in the 90’s. As a kid growing up, I hated them they were them and we were us. To my mind a polar opposite and a rivalry that could never be reproached.

As you grow older you realise we’re just the same set of wankers with different sponsors with questionable business practices on our shirts.

A lot of people in this country claim to love the game and its tradition but little by little we’ve allowed them to take it from us and why? Because they gave us shiny things while they did so.

Who are “they”? Anyone who was interested in just making money out of our passion.

Bill Hicks famously used to go on impassioned rants on how marketing was the death of anything good in this world.

He commented music companies would take people with no talent and target impressionable youth. You see while they didn’t have their own money, they had access to their parents money.

In the culmunation of his rant he purported an extremely graphic hypothesis that to get on in the music industry, all you had to do was to fellate Satan.

How right he was.

Given the choice to prevent a Premier League – an idea not of Rupert Murdoch’s making as some believe but of former Liverpool CEO, Rick Parry – we instead lined up in droves to clap at the new shiney shiney.

Year by year after that the game slipped away, whether we knew it or not. The money increased, the big names from abroad increased but the game was dissapearing over the horizon.

Enter Roman Abramovich.

Again, I was disgusted he was allowed to own a football team give his links to certain human rights abusers and how it was suggested he acquired his vast fortune.

I was also angry that a team could become a power over night. It’s at this point I admit freely that some of this anger was that it would diminsh our own chance of success. I’m not a hypocrite, or at least I try not to be.

I accepted Chelsea after a few years, mainly because of what was to come next. Deep down though, I knew this had opened the door for what could only be deemed as a hostile takeover of the game I loved.

These things don’t happen overnight. I honestly couldn’t believe what seemed to be genuine shock from some people in their reactions last night on social media.

The writing had been on the wall for years and while I was roundly ridiculed and told I was guilty of hyperbole – and no doubt will be again by the same kind of people whose apathy to tradition and sanctity allows this blindside to be facilitated – I knew deep down it was coming.

The last straw for me watching the league as whole came last season. Liverpool won the league and I felt empty. To some degree, it was down to not being able to be there or celebrate it as we would have wished but really though it was the realisation that even when we won, there would be little respite until the next onslaught.

Couple that with Liverpool choosing to partner with AXA a company you can read all about here:

https://bdsmovement.net/news/new-report-french-insurer-axa-complicit-israel%E2%80%99s-war-crimes

and my love for “English” football was all but gone. I then fell victim to the same whataboutery that I hate. I made myself believe that because Liverpool were only sponsored by AXA, it wasn’t the same and therefore wasn’t as bad as being owned by the human rights abusers directly.

There is a truth to this and one I was desperate to cling on to. There is however also a truth that I let myself down by not walking away there and then. I was guilty of the same kind of cognitive dissonance that allowed human rights abusers to buy a huge stake in this game.

You see Abu Dhabi don’t just want to PR wash in England, they chose England for viewing figures – not as some will suggest that they were “fans” – do me a fucking favour with that one.

Most people know the major players but one man seems to slip through the net, that man is Ferran Soriano. Abu Dhabi’s name might be on the label but this is the fella that created the “secret sauce” City Football Group was his idea, he wanted to to take the idea of academies all over the world to the next level and have a “franchise” of clubs that all fed into one another and create a talent network that clubs didn’t work alongside the main hub but were owned by it.

Anyway fuck “City”, it was just important to acknowledge how out of hand this is and how when Abu Dhabi heard this proposal they jumped at the chance to fund it as their plan is, was and has always been to not partake in a sport, but to dominate it.

The whole idea of sport is that it only matters if it is competitive on at least a somewhat level playing field, the big clubs now actively look for ways to make that not the case and the ultimate result is the death knell we have now seen for the sport.

To wrap things up in England, you only have to look at two groups, the fans and the owners. We the fans (myself included) patted ourselves on the back for the minor victory that was getting clubs to not raise their price any further from their already extortionate amounts.

We applauded ourselves as we got an extra crumb, meanwhile in Germany they just tell the league they’ll take the whole loaf and that’s why football still matters in Germany despite idiots over here referring to it as a “farmer’s league”.

The second obvious player here are the “owners” I mean the fact we freely refer to them as owners and yet some didn’t see this coming is the kind of cloud of misplaced whimsy that we live in when we talk about “our game”.

We’ve been over “City’s” owners who the fans would happily allow to sacrifice puppies at half time as long as they keep pumping their ill gotten gains into the club and Manchester itself.

Liverpool, a club owned by a consortium that features owners who backed both Biden and Trump in the last election – so seemed to care about their own country’s plight but then got into bed with AXA showing they definitely don’t give a shit about Palestinians.

And the Glazers who give a fuck about no one and nothing as long as they can keep syphoning funds from one of the most marketable brands in the world.

This is football?

I decided I was done with English football and went to La Liga. I enjoyed it infinitely more but again it was not to last.

I chose Barca for their history and tradition and overnight the owners pissed all over it and set it on fire.

I thought that the idea of “socios” would be a safety net and that it couldn’t happen at such a club as the fans “owned” the club. That naive notion has been well and truly been disuaded.

Surely the Bundesliga though, surely they will be safe, right? Surely their big clubs wouldn’t take on the most fan savvy of all the leagues in my opinion?

If rumours are to be believe, wrong again. There is no hiding place from this kind of greed, it’s all consuming.

Where does football go from here? If the country that are given the majority of credit for inventing the sport can’t stop this, another country that prioritised “fan ownership” can’t stop it and the most fervent of all football fans when it comes to the idea that football is nothing without them can’t prevent it, where is our out?

Absolute power corrupts absolutely and the big clubs are desperate for said absolute power and they are all but there now in the shadow of big daddy JP Morgan.

I’m reminded of the end of Barney’s black and white film entry in The Simpsons.

Don’t cry for football, it’s already dead.

He killed himself with alcohol, we killed football with our apathy.

Why Barca were mes que un club and how they could be again

The way Barcelona approach football is everything to me that football should be. From the youth players in La Masia being taught how to play football the Barca way, to the world class players who arrive at the Camp Nou and are forced to adapt or never reach the greatness at the club they perhaps promised.

Throughout my life, I’ve come to realise and live by a certain mantra. It covers football, politics and every day life. That saying is “the destination only matters if you went on the right journey”.

Basically another way of saying that the ends do not justify the means.

It’s at this point that we bring in a man with whom I have a love/hate relationship, Josep Guardiola.

Guardiola is responsible for the greatest footballing performance at a club I have ever seen, the 2010/11 European Cup Final.

This is no disrespect to Manchester United, they just happened to be the lamb led to the slaughter, I’m not sure any team would have coped that night.

Barcelona did something I thought I would never see, they took a team who were as dominant as there has ever been in the country of football that I grew up in and made them look average at best. They turned a European Cup into pracitcally a training ground exercise, it was breathtaking.

Guardiola was obviously the mastermind of this but it started back in Ajax in the 70’s but not with the man you might be thinking of.

Rinus Michels revolutionised football. He is the greatest manager the game has ever seen in my opinion and not nearly enough is done to preserve his incredible legacy.

The man created total football. Everything Cruyff, Sacchi, Bielsa, Guardiola and all these visionaries are doing, it all began with him. He looked at the game like no one else ever had.

The main difference to how Michels changed the game was the idea of not seeing football as a man to man game, but as a game where space, and how you would manipulate and exploit that space, was key.

No one in modern football uses space better than Guardiola, no one. It’s the main reason he is the manager he is. The term “half-space” is common place now and he’s the reason why.

Basically the conceptulization of football began with Rinus Michels. Cruyff played under Michels and learned and then built on Michels’ teachings and he took it Barcelona in 1988 and from that point on, Barcelona was never the same team again.

Barcelona with the most important and influential coach in their history created a philosophy of how football should be played.

Cruyff is the reason players like Messi, Iniesta and Xavi were even considered for Barcelona. He stated from day one that size and strength didn’t matter, ability did.

The great man made it clear that winning and losing were imposters and that playing what he considered the right way was the only way. He also believed that if you played the right way, you’d be rewarded not just in wins and trophies but in the pure aspect of the act of playing beautiful football.

Guardiola is a disciple of Cruyff who was a disciple of Michels and you could go further back and say that Michels was a disciple of Jack Reynolds at least to some degree.

What we saw in 2011 from Barca was not only a culmination of Guardiola’s work, but it was the apex at the time (and I don’t think it has been bettered since) of a philosophy that was decades in the making.

Unfortunately Barca in recent years have lost their way. I as a non-fan of the club at the time commented on this and stated that they were no longer “mes que un club” and that they were now “a poor man’s Real Madrid”.

When Laporta left Sandro Rossell came in and then the nadir was reached with Bartomeu. This I believe was when Barcelona became “a poor man’s Real Madrid”. Youth took a back seat and it wasn’t about developing players, it was about buying them.

I’m not going to lie, I thought Coutinho could be built for Barcelona, although I said he would have to adapt his game because despite his ability he was quite a selfish player if you actually watched him.

I think Turan did better than people think he did but he wasn’t coming into what I considered a Barca team and became somewhat of a scapegoat.

Dembele? Immensely talented but reminded me of when Barca tried to shoehorn in the likes of Simao and Quaresma. This was going backwards, not forwards. Same deal for Malcolm.

Griezmann? Built for Atleti, not Barca. Unsurpisingly it caused a tactical problem. Again Griezmann is a fine player, but it takes more to play for Barca.

It was clear to see there was no longer a was to play at Barca, a philiosophy that was rigidily stuck to at all costs, but instead something more akin to Real Madrid’s Galactico policy of the idea to get quality players and make them fit.

People remember the peak of the Galacticos when they were a joy to watch, they don’t however seem to realise that when they first came together they were not a “plug and play” solution. This proves that while Real Madrid’s way is different and is no doubt aided by the resources and ability to attract players, it takes more than just throwing money at it.

Which brings us back to the love/hate relationship I have with Guardiola. He took the purest teachings of one of the greatest men in football and has exploited them for his own gain.

Cruyff believed in the purest aspects of the beautiful game and on the pitch, so does Guardiola but off it he will do absolutely whatever it takes to prove he’s the best. His insatiable thirst has sadly led to him taking the most beautiful brand of football to a league that will appreciate it least and have allowed it to be used as a PR exercise for human rights abusers.

The heir to the throne of the greatest legacy the sport has known in my opinion, is using his powers for evil. It breaks my heart.

Guardiola himself said that legacy is what matters most, will they still talk about you in 25, 50 years? Well yes, we will. We’ll talk about a world class manager who revolutionised the game in England along with the likes of Jurgen Klopp and of course Arsene Wenger, but we’ll also talk about the fact that he betrayed the greatest gift that he was given.

And that brings us full circle because you see while Guardiola took Barca to their absolute peak, once a hero to people like me he’s now a villain. Now I doubt too many Barca fans would agree, but that’s okay we all view things differently, I’ve done no more here than state my case.

For me though, Guardiola is allowing himself and the teachings of Michels and Cruyff to be manipulated for his own personal gain and his own personal mission to win at all costs.

Winning at all costs is NOT and should never be the Barca way. If Laporta can remind Barcelona of that, bring in a manager who understands and can implement this(or maybe he has one?), if he helps make shrewd signings that fit a pattern that was created and improved decade after decade, Barcelona will once again rise to the level of where Guardiola put them.

I believe in no pasaran! I stand with Barcelona’s right to be free and independent, though I would prefer for all involved that they chose the kind of autonomy that the Basque region enjoys.

There is no doubt that when Barca were most mes que un club is when they provided shelter for Catalans to be Catalan under Franco’s regime of terror. That’s the most important aspect of mes que un club and should never be forgotten. It should also be pointed out that from what I’ve read Franco used Real Madrid more than as is sometimes suggested that Real and Franco had some kind of symbiotic relationship.

What happens off the field is important to me and unlike Guardiola, my morals don’t change to fit the situation. Freedom and the right to govern ones self is something I will always believe in.

All these reasons are why I chose Barcelona. As the game falls further and further from the game I knew and loved, I need something pure on the pitch and to some degree at least off it.

I’ll always be a Liverpool fan. I was born here, I grew up here and I have too many memories and friends and too much of a bond with the club not to be (unless we go the way of PSG or City) but English football no longer excites me, I feel like a stranger to it.

In La Liga and Bundesliga more so, I still feel that the game belongs to the fans.

I was called a glory hunter, people will think that and I accept that. The more I think about it, the more I realise these people are right.

You see there’s an inherent glory playing football in the right way, not just to win regardless and that’s the glory I seek no matter which club or which country I have to find it in.

Update: I’m going to be studying in Barcelona and chances are I’ll be working and living there, so there is even more personal now.

FORCA BARCA!

Three things I like about your MLB team

There are teams I like and teams I dislike but overall the reason I created The Screwball and JoBu Show is because there’s something to admire about every team either now or in their past.

With that said and the fact I’m newish to the game in mind, here are what I like about 30 teams in the MLB

AL EAST:

Baltimore Orioles – Those unis and that logo. Camden Yards. The fact you have an exciting project ahead.

New York Yankees – Too many greats to name, those classic pinstripes and every great story needs a “bad” guy and that rivalry with the Red Sox is immense.

Toronto Blue Jays – a lot of current players I like, you play in Canada which I may one day call home, really like the moves you’ve made to compete this year

Boston Red Sox – Fenway is second to none, family and friends in New England, greatest comeback in the sports history and that rivalry with the Yankees. The Pesky Report is my kind of podcast as well. Oh and Xander hit the second HR I ever saw.

Tampa Bay Rays – Really like how the team operates, overachievers and play the game the right way. I have more to learn about them and this week is Rays week on the podcast.

AL Central:

Kansas City Royals – Play the game the right way, like those blues and the ball park looks pretty cool. Oh yeah the fans have impressed me most with the love shown to Benintendi at 5 down after he made an error then came back with a very good play.

Detroit Tigers – That home run by Cabrera on opening day, Akil Baddoo’s start, that logo I first saw on Magnum …

Minnesota Twins – Great name, nice looking ball park, I really like Maeda

Chicago White Sox – That Sox throwback uni is awesome, part of the best series I’ve seen so far with the Angels, Abreu refusing to hit anything bur homeruns

Cleveland Indians – Bob Uecker, the team from Major League … for now, Shane Bieber. Oh and the first HR I ever saw? Edwin Encarnacion in an Indians uniform at Fenway Park.

AL West:

Houston Astros – You signed one of my best friends (love ya Joe YNWA), your orange striped throwbacks are superb, I like the train

LA Angels – Shohei Ohtain, Mike Trout, best series so far and most exciting team to watch so far.

Seattle Mariners – Ichirooooo!!!!!! Kikuchi, exciting future project.

Texas Rangers – Nolan Ryan, Joey Gallo, Nate Lowe.

Oakland A’s – both logos, well run ball club, feel really accessible for a reason I can’t quite understand. Oh and I really like Pinder.

NL East:

Washington Nationals – Trea Turner, winning after “losing” Harper, quite like the logos.

Philadelphia Phillies – The Phanatic! I like the unis, I can get a cheesesteak at the game (yeah I’m a tourist) oh and Zac Wheeler showing why we shouldn’t use the universal DH

NY Mets – Lindor, De Grom, JoBu is a Mets fan.

Miami Marlins – The Mariachi band! (apologies if they’re not Mariachi but that’s what I’m calling them until futher notice), Chisholm, exciting project.

Atlanta Braves – Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz. Sorry, I had to.

NL Central:

Cincinnati Reds – Along with the Angels, the most exciting team I’ve seen so far. Most surprising as well after opening day. Nearly always open at home. Castellanos.

Chicago Cubs – Wrigley, overcoming the biggest curse in baseball, the “W”.

St Louis Cardinals – Probably the classiest organisation in baseball or thereabouts. Really well run club and one of the more underrated ball parks I’ve seen.

Milwaukee Brewers – JoBu supports them. A lot of my friends support them, that opening day finish! Bob Uecker for real and not just in movies.

Pittsburgh Pirates – PNC Park, Ke’Bryan Hayes, exciting project

NL West:

LA Dodgers – if we include Brooklyn, has any ball club be as instrumental in the history of the game? Julio Urias will always have a special place in my heart, as will Fernando Valenzuela and of course Jackie Robinson. Such a beautiful view from the ball park as well.

San Diego Padres – Electric on their day. Nice looking ball park and I love Blake Snell

Arizona Diamondbacks – Big Unit, Clemens, Marte. I need to learn more about them but that’s not a bad starting point!

San Francisco Giants – Beautiful ball park, Kevin Gausmann my favourite “sleeper” pick for fantasy and again if we’re talking New York Giants as well, Willie Mays. Also what a rivalry with the Dodgers

Colorado Rockies – Lovable “losers”, not even really an exciting project, quite like those purple unis and logos, you gotta be loyal to follow this team. McMahon 3 for 3 HR’s performance. Trevor Story, that opening day, I’m really trying for the Rockies because damn do they deserve it. Colorado is pretty beautiful as well from what I’ve seen.

So there you have it. I did my best with what little knowledge I have. Hopefully as my knowledge improves and as time goes by, I’ll appreciate most if not all, more in the future.

Opening Day 2021 – Part 1

This week on the podcast is Red Sox week and as such I must as per the rules act in the manner of a Red Sox fan.

Opening day part 1 is a title to allude to the fact that sadly the Red Sox home opener against the Orioles has been postponed.

In a way, I am happy about that as I get to watch another live game tomorrow and I also got to watch in its entirety the Blue Jays @ Yankees game.

Even the things that previously may have annoyed you were beautiful to see, for example Yankees fans booing every perfectly called strike against their team.

As a “Red Sox fan” I was cheering for Toronto of course. As I sat tucking into what one Twitter page referred to as a “Crime against poutine” (they were right the bacon spoiled it but the poutine itself was lovely) I was really enjoying the performance of both pitchers.

I threw the commentator’s curse down on Ryu by stating how impressed I’d been with him for Gary Sanchez to hammer one into the crowd.

Sanchez was extremely impressive both with the bat and ball. A highlight was him taking out a runner on the way to second base. I’m still not 100% with all the names yet, that will come.

A reason I wanted to do the podcast was to find something I liked about all teams, Sanchez was very much the attraction of the Yankees for me. I felt a bit for Cole when he left one over the plate for Teoscar Hernandez who smashed out of there like it owed him money.

Another name I remember was Merryweather who looked naughty throwing strikes.

Overall it was a really enjoyable first game, certainly has whet the appetite for more that’s for sure.

The Blue Jays won, I liked their uniforms and I liked their team. They played good defense and there was just a lot to like about them as a whole. The “Red Sox fan” was happy but maybe not looking forward to playing the men from Toronto.

After the game was over, I watched the remainder of the Rays v Marlins. The reason I chose this game was that the podcast is focused on the AL East right now.

It was a pitchers duel in Florida and while Alcantara looked good for the Marlins, Glasnow was lights out for the Rays.

Austin Meadows homer was enough to win the game and the other thing of note was the music from the stands.

I think it’s safe to say the one thing my partner enjoyed from opening day was the Marlins Mariachi Band. I did myself. It was unexpected as I’m not used to that and didn’t expect it at a baseball game but one of the things I love about baseball is how different each team and their fans can be.

This morning, I finished up watching the rest of the games on MLB.TV condensed games. Highlights included but are not limited to:

Cabrera’s HR (homerun) in the snow. I am still annoyed I didn’t pick with Cabrera for the first HR after changing to Baddoo. Let it go, Screwball, let it go.

The Brewers epic come from behind win. Hats off to the crowd who really showed what we’d been missing from sport in general, not just baseball. Urias’ catch was the higlight of the game for me.

Pirates upsetting the Cubs and Ke’Bryan Hayes (my pick for AL ROY) showing what he’s all about. I just missed out on Rodriguez in the draft and watching him pitch did not help me feel better about that.

Didi Gregorious’ over the shoulder catch was a thing of beauty and that was a really good game. Braves can count themselves unlucky and I think on most days they would have won that one but Phillies showed a real determination and made big plays when it mattered, where the Braves made small mistakes that cost them – head down and run Albies! Enjoyable game though. Oh and how can you not love the Kung Fu Panda?

Surpisingly my favourite team so far is the Rockies. As the podcast goes on, you’ll come to learn that my favourite kind of baseball is “smallball” I love the web gems, I love just putting the ball in play and forcing things to happen with sac flies or basehits, I love stolen bases. The Rockies knew they couldn’t match the Dodgers for power, they didn’t even try. On another day the Dodgers wouldn’t have made the mistakes they did but the Rockies played what was in front of them. I loved it!

Padres looked exciting and Dbacks did well to stay with them. Nice ballpark, not one of the games I enjoyed most if I’m honest though.

Royals fans take the prize for best fans so far. 5-0 down and with Benintendi having made somewhat of an error, there didn’t seem to be a man, woman or child not on their feet when he made the catch that kept it at 5-0. It’s one thing to cheer when you’re winning, to get behind your team 5 down? That’s what matters, even if it was the first innings. Liked the uniforms and ballpark as well. Credit to the Rangers for making a game of it.

White Sox @ Angels was one of the best games of the day in terms of the quality on show. Some games got out of hand and were fun because of a lack of quality but this was a game were two evenly matched teams went at it. Of course Trout had his say. I liked a lot about both teams. A lot to recommend this game and both teams. Nod to Giolito who looked good and did well given the task at hand.

Say what you want about the Astros and I’ve said plenty but they looked damn good. Altuve (who I picked up in fantasy deliberately for his quality and to show I’m not biased) had a game. I actually like more about the Astros than some people might think, we’ll save that for the podcast though and whenever their episode is. I liked the A’s but there wasn’t much to recommend them in this one other than Pinder who straight away became my favourite player with two great catches.

And then finally the Giants looking like they were cruising against the Mariners and suddenly, not so much. Actually another game where I liked what I saw from both teams. Both have their problems but I like to see baseball played and I did so thanks to both teams for that. Mitch Haniger’s sliding catch is what I’m all about.

Basically, I’m in love with the sport and it’s only day 1!

So there you have it, Opening Day part 1 is in the books. Now for part 2. Let’s go Red Sox!

I don’t want to write this and if the commissioner did his job, I wouldn’t have to

As I learn more about baseball, I learn that to a large degree it polices itself. I like that.

With that said, you need a strong commissioner who first and foremost will hold the sanctity of the game above all else. If the Astros scandal proved anything, it proved he isn’t that man.

Let me start this with an olive branch, I’m not here to attack Astros fans. Quite the opposite in fact.

I created The Screwball and Jobu Show because I want to love baseball more than I’ve ever loved any sport. I created it because I believe my own sport is dying and one fateful day back in 2018, I got to go to Fenway Park and my love for the sport has grown ever since.

At the same time though, I didn’t give baseball the amount of time it demands. I wasn’t ready to do that. I am now.

So why go back to an issue that for the majority of those linked to the Astros should be over and done with? Because it’s important.

Nothing should come above the game, nothing. I’ve seen first hand what can happen when people disrespect the game and try and bend it to their will in our “Premier League”, it’s why I decided baseball was my new home.

When Astros players came out and apologised like that “listen Linda” kid, they didn’t just let themselves down, they didn’t just let baseball down, they let their fans down.

That stain will stay with them forever. They had a chance to throw their hands up, to show a bit of class and dignity in a tough situation and instead they chose to double down.

Empowered by this disgusting attitude and a useless commissioner, many Astros fans followed suit.

Will it ruin baseball? No, of course not. The reason it won’t though is because baseball policed itself. So next time you see a fan in the stands with a trash can or you hear them booing, remember they’re meeting out the punishment the commissioner never did and they have every right to.

My personal story is one that links to this issue somewhat as a friend of mine who was a Dodgers fan passed away. He was a Sergeant in the US Army and a hell of a guy. I miss him.

He loved his baseball and among all the emotions I felt when he passed, regret and anger that he never got to see his team win a World Series were amongst them.

Obviously this wasn’t the biggest emotion but it was one I could do something about.

After he passed, I followed the Dodgers last season. I loved it. The Dodgers fans were amazing and I thank all those I met and some I now count among my friends to this day.

I got to finish the journey that Dave never did. It maybe selfishly brought me some measure of closure, although others say it was a selfless thing to do. I guess that’s up to you to decide, perception can be a tricky thing.

The cheating scandal though? It still lingers. The reason for this piece is I was told to “get over it”. This was in response to the following comment from Michael Brantley:

“We’ve been in the World Series, we’ve been in the playoffs … They can boo, they can yell, they can do whatever they want. But at the end of the day we have each other’s backs and that’s all that matters”

First of all, you don’t get to decide how people react to your indiscretions. Brantley? (Who I’m aware was not aroud when the cheating occurred) I’m sure he’d feel the same way if it was him who was cheated out of a chance at a World Series ring or it was him who lost his chance in the big leagues like Mike Bolsinger.

He reopened old wounds with his comment. Them having “each others backs” in a siege mentality is great for them, it is not however “all that matters”.

What matters is that the Astros didn’t own up to it, the commissioner gave them a pass and because of that, it won’t go away even for those that want it to!

As I say though, I don’t blame the Astros fans. They are following the lead of the organisation, fans do that. If you get as much abuse as the Astros fans have had to put up with, of course you will close ranks. I understand that fully.

I blame the man whose name I didn’t say to this point, the man who could have resolved this whole issue but instead hoped it would go away because he doesn’t seem to understand what this sport means to people.

I blame those involved with the Astros who cheated or knew about it but I blame you most of all Rob Manfred.

You are supposed to be the guardian of the sport. Cheating will happen, it always has in baseball in one for or another but it’s up to you to meet out punishment.

From how baseball fans of other teams feel cheated, to how Mike Bolsinger lost his chance in the bigs, to even how a number of Astros fans have responded to this, it’s ALL on YOU.

When the next controversy comes around – and it will – I hope you’re either better prepared having learned from this mistake, or you’re nowhere near baseball.

When you think I’ve loved you all I can …

I’m worried. Not for anything as trivial as a league title. No, I’m worried for Jurgen Klopp.

Since he came here, he’s had to sacrifice more and more of himself and his playing style to meet the demands of a league where football is secondary. This is not who this man is.

His teams used to play with a smile on their face and with movement and a natural sharpness that can only come from not just being invested but loving what you do. That love is missing right now and it’s missing in Klopp.

It’s unsurprising that the level he’s reached over the last two seasons is not being reached again this year, and that’s before we factor in these unprecedented of times.

I worry that Klopp is going to leave Liverpool, but in a way I worry that he won’t. Those who know me know that wins and losses are secondary to me, I’m a fan of the game first and foremost. I said last season that I felt guilty almost that with a 30 year wait for a title over, I was missing the days we were playing heavy metal football.

You could say it’s being spoiled, and maybe it is but for me, it’s just enjoying the game for what it is, what it’s meant to be. Football has been corrupted by money in my eyes. The lack of parity leads to teams doing anything they can to compete including putting 11 men behind the ball and boring the opposition to sleep to hit them on the break. Then we talk about how “brave” they are.

Brave is what Bielsa is doing at Leeds and what Howe did at Bournemouth. What usually happens there though is those teams are not rewarded for long because they can’t compete long term due to the financial restrictions they have.

Klopp is better suited to overcoming the odds than being a front runner. We know he can do both but there’s a magic about him when he’s doing the former. It’s who he is.

I’ve said time and time again I’m done with this league, and I am. I used to watch every game I could, now I just watch Liverpool. Watching Liverpool at the moment is a duty more than anything. There’s no enjoyment in it. I want to win, of course, but I want to win playing football and I want to see Klopp and the lads smiling again.

If this is taking too much out of Jurgen, then it’s with a heavy heart that I’d say I’d prefer he leaves. I hope this is premature, I hope he can turn it around and remember what brought him joy from football because in the end, that not trophies is what matters most to me and while I believe part of him needed to prove he could win the big trophies, he’s done that now.

From the other side, it’s important to point out this could just be done to current circumstances. We’ve been heavily affected by injuries, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, our players never even got to celebrate their greatest achievement in the league with fans and now they play in an empty Anfield when they need us as much as they ever have.

Jurgen will fight, of that I have no doubt but I just wish we could be there to fight with him, because he and his team clearly feed off that. As he acknowledges though and we all must, there are bigger things at stake here, not just in Liverpool but around the world.

A change has to come, I just wonder what that change may be. Whatever he decides, he has my full unwavering support because Jurgen Klopp and what he has given to our club means more to me than any trophy ever could.