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Soup of This Day #277: And Conjurers From Darker Times

December 18, 2012

 TELUS-Université Laval Stadium
The TELUS-Université Laval Stadium in Quebec features a wooden frame roof supported by 13 arches of variable inertia. The wood is glued laminated timber, or glulam, and it has a greater tensile strength than steel – Photo: Cephas, 2012. Cephas is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Talk can be cheap.

Unless an auctioneer happens to mistake your polite enquiry about using the toilet for an extravagant bid on a rare Chachapoyan fertility idol. Then talk can be expensive. And fertile.

But otherwise, chatter generally isn’t worth much.

This is very evident in the world of sport, where coaches and players deliver seemingly endless streams of platitudes and clichés. 1 game at a time because they’re never getting ahead of themselves and they are focused on this week’s opponent, who is worthy of respect.

That’s how valuable that kind of talk is – I can write it and I’m not getting paid anything for the service. You can’t get cheaper than free.

Every now and then though a sporting figure steps out of the box and delivers some unscripted wisdom. Take Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who last week looked at the English Premier League (EPL) table and noted that his side were just 4 points adrift of a Champions League (CL) slot despite appearing to be:

‘…a club that has been very poor and disastrous, by all accounts from other people…’

Which is true – People have accounted them very poor and disastrous. I’m 1 of them.

Mostly because they have been very poor and disastrous. That they were just 4 points off a CL place after 16 games says more about the rest of the EPL than it does about Liverpool FC flying under the radar.

Still it is tempting to look at the table and imagine that things are good, or at the least are suddenly and inexplicably about to become good. Fans do this all the time – I’ve been guilty of sitting down to work out a Liverpool FC path to EPL glory with my beloved Reds a mere 20 points off the pace and just the 7 games left in the season.

You only get 3 points for a win so I’ve not left much of a margin for error there.

Brendan has succumbed to that same temptation. He’s looked at the raw points total to date for his side and developed an opinion that they can roar up the table. This does require a bit of a capitulation from the teams above Liverpool on the EPL ladder. It also requires ignorance of some incontrovertibly ordinary statistic data.

When Rodgers made his observations he blithely skipped over the part where Liverpool had scored just 22 EPL goals to that point, while their opponents had notched up 20. Compare and contrast that with the top 4 on the ladder: Atop the league, Manchester United had scored 40 and conceded 23. They were followed by Manchester City (30 and 14), Chelsea (28 and 17) and Tottenham Hotspur (29 and 25).

Liverpool simply do not score enough goals. You can gloss over a lot of things in sport, but a football team that does not score enough is bound to be found out.

Dig a little deeper into the numbers and Liverpool’s paucity of goals can be at least in part traced to a glaring shortcoming.

They only have 1 recognized striker.

True, that striker is Luis Suárez and he has been doing alright for his team – Of the 22 goals, 10 have come from the temperamental Uruguyan. Steven Gerrard in midfield is the next most productive.

And he’s scored just twice.

That’s not a recipe for a top-4 finish. Brendan Rodgers agrees.

He thinks Liverpool can go better than top-4:

‘For me the ambition is to grow higher. We are 11 points off second and that can all turn around very quickly.’

Coincidentally, that tends to be the aim of people who cultivate marijuana for personal use – That it grow higher so that they can grow higher. Possibly Brendan Rodgers has been smoking the good and tall stuff himself.

Still, being ambitious is a fair enough calling. At the time he projected the rise of Liverpool FC, his team sat in 10th. That’s the exact same position Meghann Lanning occupies in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) rankings for bats in women’s One Day International (ODI) cricket.

Meg plays for Australia and is currently occupied by the Rose Bowl Series, a 4-game series between her Southern Stars outfit and New Zealand. The underdog Kiwis snagged Game 1, before Australia made a record chase of 288 with 3 overs to spare in Game 2 – Lanning chimed in with a handy 72 off of 53 balls to go with her Game 1 innings of 87 from 71.

In Game 3 the New Zealanders, batting 1st, set a comparatively tame 178 for victory. Meg Lanning, an opening bat for her country, set off after that total like she had somewhere else she needed to get to quickly.

Really quickly – Meg, who I have decided to call The Lanminator, smashed 103 off of a staggering 50 balls. That whirlwind innings featured 18x4s and 3x6s – 90 of her 103 runs coming from boundaries.

In retrospect calling them ‘runs’ seems a bit silly since she hardly ever had to break out more than a saunter – Maybe they should be called ‘megbeltedanother1tothefence’.

Whatever you call them, with The Lanminator (It will catch on) locked on target, the Southern Stars got enough of them to achieve victory in a shade over 21 overs. That’s less than half of the allotted amount.

I think The Lanminator will be top-4 or maybe even top-2 in the batting rankings very soon. She might be there for a bit of time too – This boundary-machine is just 20 years of age.

Liverpool FC will not be top-2 or in all likelihood top-4 for some time. Saturday just past, responding to their guvnor’s optimistic predictions, they contrived to lose 1-3 at Anfield to lowly Aston Villa. The Reds had chances but couldn’t finish.

Brendan Rodgers forgot to stipulate which way he wanted things to turn around.

Help is at hand though. In January the transfer window will swing open again and the Reds will surely add another target man up front. They could also try something a little different:

Instead of talking about his targets, Brendan Rogers needs to write them down on a sheet of regular A4. He can then stick that paper into a specially designed pouch of heat-activated adhesive film before sending the whole through a series of heated rollers.

It seems that all you really need to do is to take your goals and then get them Lanminated for extra strength.

And Conjurers From Darker Times

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