Mental cruelty at Anfield

Liverpool lose again to a mid-table side and finish the match with nine men. What does this have to do with Aston Villa? Apart from a competitor for a top four place descending into chaos, not a lot really. But anyone who says it’s not funny to watch has no true sense of schadenfreude.

It’s a terrible thing to say but I enjoy it almost as much as watching the Villa win.

The horror of Halloween kicked off earlier in the day when Redknapp had to watch the pantomime at the Emirates. The Gooners are awesome at the moment, but Wilson Palacios decided they needed some help. Cesc Fabregas’ goal was a comedy routine all by itself; it was like a football game in an amusement arcade as Spurs defenders threw themselves to the ground and Fabregas zigzagged round them.

Rednapp’s face was a picture of barely controlled fury. Professionals on sixty grand a week were playing parks football.

But I digress; the topic of the day is Red Rafa Benitez. Liverpool fans are openly speculating that he’s screwing things up so that he’ll get the tin-tack and he can take the job at Real Madrid. The problem with this is that the restaurant employee has just signed a new contract and terminating it will cost Liverpool £20 million. That’s proper money.

The idea that he’s doing this deliberately would be silly were it not that everything the waiter does as Liverpool manager is bizarre. Benitez is losing the plot. Liverpool go behind against Fulham, the genius of Torres brings them level, and in the search for the winner what does the waiter do? He takes off Torres. They go 2-1 down and he took off Benayoun – Benayoun was the only dangerous player after Torres had gone. He then brought on a nonentity. You can’t write this stuff.

Any psychologist watching the game would have recognised the signs – Benitez is on the verge of a mental breakdown. During the match he wanders around his technical area constantly muttering to the players and making feeble gestures. Since he’s not shouting no one can possibly hear him and, since the players are presumably concentrating on the game, no one can see the gestures.

In the jargon, it’s ‘displacement activity’ and its purpose is to give the appearance of control in a situation that is chaotic. You want to put your arms round him (metaphorically speaking, of course) and comfort him.

It will soon be official. Benitez is a nutter.

In the strictest interpretation of The Mental Health Act 2007 (section 8, paragraph 4), Liverpool F.C., in their continuing act of employing Benitez as club manager, are guilty of ‘mental cruelty’. He should be released from his contract immediately and taken to an asylum.

After the match, approaching the vicinity of a Sky microphone, the waiter stopped, put down a pile of dirty plates on a table, and addressed the camera. “We shall appeal the sending’s off”. It doesn’t get much better than this. History is being made, a great institution crumbles to the ground, and Benitez invokes more displacement activity.

Gillet and Hicks twist in the wind. What to do? Pay the twenty million and go deeper into financial distress? Or keep the lunatic and destroy ourselves?

Sometimes life is sweet.

Oh yeah, Aston Villa. I thought the boys done good. Including Sidwell. We survived Halloween.