Gary Taylor-Fletcher column: Liverpool provide reasons to be cheerful following UEFA’s response to England’s treatment in Bulgaria
With the Premier League back and firing on all cylinders after the international break I thought I’d take a look at the wider football scene this week.
Of course, as a Liverpool fan I don’t need asking twice to write about their season so far, though a far less pleasant issue demands attention first and foremost.
The main talking point from last month’s internationals was the disgraceful racist chanting and other unacceptable behaviour which the England team was subjected to in Bulgaria.
This week brought UEFA’s response and I have to agree with those who say the punishment is far too lenient and gives out completely the wrong message about the unacceptability of the scenes we witnessed in Sofia.
To force Bulgaria to play just one game behind closed doors, with the threat of a second game if their supporters re-offend, is nothing short of ridiculous.
Credit to England for making a stand on the field but it isn’t right that action is only taken after a team has taken matters into their own hands by stopping the game to draw attention to what is going on.
How long must we wait before the authorities hit the offenders with a meaningful punishment, such as 10 games behind closed doors or expulsion from a tournament? That’s the way to get this matter dealt with.
Of course there are still problems in this country too, as was highlighted at the Haringey v Yeovil FA Cup game recently, but massive steps forward have been taken and the climate now is that such incidents are reported and acted upon.
On a happier note, as a proud Liverpudlian I have to say the Premier League table makes great reading at the moment.
Liverpool are flying and playing such attractive football too. They went very close last year to that first title in 30 years and only lost one game, though that proved one too many.
I’m not getting carried away because I know they will have a bad spell at some point in the season – every team does, no matter how good they are – and it is how they handle that which will determine whether or not they can win the title.
Manchester City will have a sticky patch as well at some point but the feelgood factor around Liverpool is superb at the moment and that can only help them.
I’ve never known a Liverpool manager like Jurgen Klopp. The fans love him and fans of other clubs have to admire the way he gets the players and the supporters going at Anfield.
He knew from the start the role he wanted to play. His message to the fans has always been, ‘I’m one of you’ and the people have responded.
It reminds me of David Moyes when he arrived at Everton and made such a big deal of branding them ‘The People’s Club’. Klopp has done the same and it’s a breath of fresh air.
I do think it’s a two-horse race for the title again. Chelsea are going to have a go but they lack the experience to do it week in, week out at the moment, though I think they have a massive future.
It really is a question of who will fill the places behind Liverpool and City, and it’s fascinating to watch the clubs battling to get to get to that next level.
I include Arsenal in that group and Spurs, though they have some catching up to do, but I do feel Manchester United have fallen away a little.
Leicester City are one to watch and could break into the all-important top four at the end of the season. I liked Brendan Rodgers when he was at Liverpool and he has got them playing really well.