I knew there was something not right this afternoon. It was just all too good to be true. Even before the season started I knew the opener against Sunderland wasn't going to be available on the telly (except for Setanta Sports) and so, had accepted the fact that it was either the local pub or freely available (but not entirely reliable) online streaming.
Considering the pub was out of the question (at least for the next twenty days or so), a bunch of us were resigned to watching the match online - buffering or no buffering. This was certainly the case until about half an hour before kick-off where we were reliably informed that we could watch the match on our iPhones via the Setanta Sports Ireland app. It would cost me the princely sum of €7.99 for 1-month subscription but taking into account the fact that Setanta were going to show three Liverpool games over the next month, the amount didn't seem too expensive.
No, nothing didn't seem too expensive especially since I was paying to watch a new and improved Liverpool. On paper, in all my years of supporting Liverpool, I've never seen a Liverpool squad with such depth, width and balance. Surely, this would be one of those rare, frustration-free seasons where I could just sit back and watch the Red men pound the opposition into submission especially at Fortress Anfield. Surely...
Unfortunately, even before a Liverpool player could kick a ball, things started to turn pear-shape. Instead of a panel of football pundits discussing the upcoming match, I was greeted with a puppet Mourinho yapping away on my iPhone screen with a vague message...
Unfortunately the scheduled content is unavailable due to mobile broadcasting rights
WTF? Now you tell me? After I've forked out my hard-eared money? An outright swindle by Setanta.
Needless to say, it was a mad rush to the closest laptop to find a decent streaming site. Ten minutes later and after some start-stop buffering action, I was right on time to catch Charlie Adam's peach of a freekick and Suarez's finishing touch. Goal!
From then on, everything seemed to have gone to plan except after the break. As if to echo my disappointment with Setanta, things were beginning to look bad on the Anfield pitch as well. It appeared as if every single man on the pitch simply switched off for the second half. Of the new signings, the previously athletic and composed Henderson went missing. Adam who before the interval was spraying passes all around the pitch like a Xabi Alonso in tartan, struggled to complete 10-yard passes to next player in red. Stewart Downing who started working on proving his doubters wrong within the first couple of minutes of the match appeared lost. Instead of keeping the team's width he drifted ineffectively in and out of the centre without any real direction. Jose Enrique who looked solid as the solution to Liverpool's leftback woes was beginning to appear shaky an uncertain in the tackle.
Dalglish must've spotted the downward trend in performance as he opted to steady things with the introduction of some experience in the form of Kuyt for Henderson and soon after, Meireles for Suarez. Maybe it was opening day nerves or maybe it was lack of match fitness (or sheer exhaustion for the South American contingent in the team). Whatever the reason, a 1-1 draw against the likes of Sunderland at Anfield just isn't good enough.
Not for Liverpool. Not this season.