I pity my next door neighbour. I really do pity him. When my Syrian neighbour and his wife moved in over a year ago, he was greeted by the sound of a grown man constantly shouting on weekends (and the odd weekday night) with loud banging noises being heard accompanying the shouts and screams of agony. Banging of floors, walls, doors or anything solid seemed to be the norm in the first few months after the move. Poor Ali, he must've thought that he'd moved in next to a mad house. But then, some time during the summer, it all stopped and for a long time there was peace and quiet which was occasionally broken by the odd groan or sigh. Just groans and sighs. Nothing as unbearable as the banging and shouts.
Unfortunately, on Thursday night, it all started again...
If Ali was to record and analyse the trend to his next door nuisance, he would've noticed that the shouting and banging coincided with Liverpool match fixtures. And, if Ali was to dig deeper and understand his neighbour's obsession, he would've noticed that the team that his neighbour supported had been abducted by aliens on Thursday night and had been replaced by Joe Kinnear's Wimbledon. Knowing this, he could have possibly silenced the shouts by explaining this to his Malaysian neighbour and calm him down a bit.
Yes, because talking some sense into his neighbour was probably the best Ali could do as there was nothing he or anyone else could do about the 11 men playing on the pitch at Anfield on Thursday night. Maybe there is some sort psychological explanation out there to it but, in simple terms, the Liverpool team on the night was clearly suffering from a severe case of Big Man Upfront disease. It had been a problem more recently during Peter Crouch's time at the club (although the man is clearly more comfortable with the ball at his feet rather than flying off his head) and became apparent again during the match against Braga. Players simply see a big head upfront like they see a huge, billboard-sized moving target and instinctively hoof the ball to said player without thinking twice.
The quick and solution to this disease? Introduce small man and big man would immediately have someone to make his efforts worthwhile. Sadly, to these untrained eyes, that didn't happen (OK, it did because Jay Spearing was introduced during the match but that's not the small man that I meant) and it ended with Liverpool being unceremoniously kicked out of the Europa League.
On Friday morning, my first act of the day was to get on my laptop and cancel my application for the final match. Talk about being so close yet so far.