GALLERY: Steven Gerrard’s eight career red cards for Liverpool and England

r.dcruze 23/03/2015

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Off The Bar: Gerrard does a Kanye, Jose’s timely plan

Ben Davies 23/03/2015
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Steven Gerrard: The new Kanye West.

In the cash-rich world of modern football, there is plenty of room for ridicule; Sport360 has it for you in abundance every Monday. This week, Steven Gerrard’s rapid-fire red has a touch of the Kanye West about it and Kyle Walker impersonates Glen Johnson.  

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CAN GERRARD SHAKE IT OFF?

Whether it was pre-meditated or a rush of blood to his forehead-less head, Steven Gerrard’s dopey dismissal on Sunday was the highest grade of idiocy. In fact, we’ll go one further – Gerrard’s now infamous final 40 seconds against his old foe Manchester United involved stupidity on a Kanye West level. I know, I know, strong words.

Yes, to all intents and purposes, Gerrard ‘did a Kanye’ at Anfield on Sunday – performing his own version of the hip hop artist’s notorious storming of the stage at the MTV Music Video Awards back in 2009. In both incidents, the hugely talented but polarising protagonists entered and left a highly prestigious stage in the space of a minute – each unleashing a formidable display of madness in the interim and leaving a backlash of ridicule in their apologetic wake. Whilst Kanye stole the limelight of pop star Taylor Swift by interrupting her winners’ speech and demanding the Best Music Video award go to Beyonce, Gerrard has effectively followed suit here – bluntly silencing an up-and-coming competitor in a misjudged attempt to redirect fortunes elsewhere – presumably towards Liverpool in Gerrard’s case, especially as Beyonce has done very little to deserve a Champions League qualification spot this season.

What next for ‘Stevie G’? Notably, Kanye has recovered his career by marrying one of the  Kardashian sisters, recording a duet with Rihanna and being signed up to headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury this summer. Whilst it seems unlikely that Gerrard will seek to follow the same road to redemption, we’ve all learned to write the tremendously talented midfielder off at our peril. Watch this space, and what a space that would be.

As for Swift, her recent smash hit, ‘Shake It Off,’ should actually offer Gerrard some solace. The song is all about putting criticism behind you and eerily enough, the final verse, if read backwards and in a scouse accent, clearly implores the midfielder to ignore the criticism of others and ‘concentrate on coming back with a bang against Hull City. Chin up son’. Wise, rousing and surprisingly prophetic words from Swift, although the chorus statement ‘Players gonna play play play play play’ is a rather simplistic statement that naively fails to factor in the possibility of a three-match suspension for serious foul play. Gerrard will not play play play play play until April 18 at the earliest.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY PANDEMIC

In the last three weeks we’ve had two players wrongly sent off because of mistaken identity (West Brom’s Gareth McAuley became the latest victim on Saturday). If we extrapolate that data-set across a season, that pattern would see 20 players sent off wrongly in 2015-16. If we forecast even further ahead (and allow for one or two miscalculations), my statistics suggest that by the 2019-2020 Premier League season, 12 players will be wrongly sent off per game. That’s a shocking 4560 players wrongly sent off per campaign. A sobering statistic for the English game – clearly something needs to change and fast.

As per usual, technology has been touted as the answer to the problem, yet we’re highly unlikely to see such a progressive innovation installed for a good five years. That means we need an interim solution as soon as possible, and Off The Bar honestly believes it has it… all Premier League defenders should wear hats, and all of varying style. If you think it’s a silly idea, answer me this – if West Brom’s Craig Dawson started the game in a Victorian top hat, and if Gareth McAuley sported a jester’s hat with accompanying bells, there is no way Neil Swarbrick is getting those two mixed up in the heat of battle.

Man in the Mirror: Off The Bar is struggling to empathise with Neil Swarbrick - Gareth McAuley and Craig Dawson don't look all that similar.

Beyond the highly entertaining visual benefits of this regulation – imagine Per Mertesacker rocking a Trilby or Vincent Kompany bossing a sky blue Sombrero – it does admittedly pose a few practical problems. For instance, would a classic John Terry bullet header have its trajectory adversely affected by the rim of a baseball cap? Quite possibly. The incredibly quick Kyle Walker for instance would have to be warned of the aerodynamic pitfalls of bombing down the wing sporting a 10 Gallon Cowboy hat.

KYLE WALKER IMPERSONATES GLEN JOHNSON

It’s entirely apt we should stumble upon Kyle Walker. Referee Neil Swarbrick is not the only one to get confused with who is who. Walker appears to have wrongly identified himself as Glen Johnson. In the last few matches, most recently against Leicester City on Saturday, Kyle showed electric pace going forward but combined that strength with endless bouts of hesitation, confusion and positional errors in defence. Glen Johnson-itus. The man has now been involved in more horror shows than the character Dracula.

Critics, the vast majority of them Spurs fans, have been scratching their heads at Walker’s incomprehensible call-up to the next England squad, complaining that he is playing like a headless chicken. But that in all honesty is really doing a disservice to a headless chicken. Whilst placing a headless chicken in the Tottenham back four would obviously make playing the offside trap a little hit and miss and play havoc with Mauricio Pochettino’s pressing-as-one philosophy, the chicken would eventually, by pure chance, run into the correct position for a set-piece. At this moment in time, this is something that simply cannot be assured with Walker and thus, for the time-being, he inspires less confidence at the back than a decapitated flightless bird.

CHELSEA’S CAMAPIGN GOING LIKE CLOCKWORK

Jose Mourinho revealed last week that he has celebrated each of the 21 trophies he has won as a manager by removing his watch and keeping it as a souvenir in a safe box. It is a rather charming tradition that he can expect to partake in again after going six points clear with a win against Hull City on Sunday.

Perhaps the time-piece hoarding is a business investment for his retirement days? Notably, Didier Drogba has form for designing, and purchasing in bulk, diamond rings (he famously did this to honour Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League glory). This gives a tantalising possibility of the two partners in crime becoming partners in shine, one day fronting their own watch and jewellery shop in the salubrious high streets of south west London. We can almost see it now – the dynamic duo securing sale-after-sale courtesy of the middle-aged Cahill, Terry and Costa bolting out of the storeroom and surrounding the quivering customer into submission. On the flip side, the carpet burns from Mourinho’s subsequent euphoric knee slides could be a real nightmare.

The name of the shop? Off The Bar admits struggling to find an adequate pun here. The task would have been so much easier had a sulky Frenchman ever played under Jose Mourinho – sadly ‘Necklace Anelka’ won’t work as a result. There’s a lot to resent about Anelka’s career, but his inadvertent refusal to make that pun watertight has to be right up there.

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VIDEO: ‘Complete’ Barca performance – Luis Enrique on El Clasico

Scott 23/03/2015
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Reaction after Barcelona beat Real Madrid 2-1 in El Clasico on Sunday.


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