Sunday, March 15, 2009

Liverpool, Benitez, Pakatan Rakyat, Anwar

How sweet it was to end up doing the double on Manchester United. All the more satisfying was the fact that the Reds went into the so-called Theatre of Dreams in Manchester and gave the hosts a nightmare that should haunt them for some time.

Yet, for all you Manchester United fans out there, take solace in the fact that you have lost the battle but you’re going to win the war. As much as it hurts me to admit it, while there’s going to be a bit more excitement down the stretch after this thumping of Manchester United by Liverpool (Ooh, how so satisfying it is to say those words), it really is unlikely that Liverpool has it in them make up the points – which will require some further slip-ups by United – and overtake the Juggernaut from Manchester.

There are many schools of thought out there about Liverpool’s inability to have been more consistent all season long. But as in life (or politics), there’re often a combination of forces that tend to conspire and produce a certain outcome.

Like Pakatan Rakyat, Liverpool seems thoroughly poor when compared to the financial power of Manchester United. Pakatan looks about as financially diminutive against UMNO’s financial war-chest as Liverpool is relative to Manchester United. Whether you look at the teams’ ability to splash big money on ‘big names’ in the transfer market or to have the kind of depth in the squads, the two teams are worlds apart. Obviously, the same goes for UMNO and Pakatan. Why, UMNO seems to have as notorious a history of dominating ‘the game’ with money as Manchester United has with its stranglehold on the premiership. Money, of course, is not everything, but it sure makes a massive difference.

But leadership and vision also matters. Like Benitez at Liverpool, Anwar seems to have taken on an almost impossible task of trying to topple a massive machinery. Like Benitez, Anwar is tactically astute, although not immune from an occasional flawed game plan or falling victim to the mind-games of his arch rival. Just as Benitez has sometimes gotten his tactics wrong against ‘smaller’ clubs, Anwar has had his miss-steps since launching his political comeback.

It is also clear that both Benitez and Anwar continue to enjoy a great deal of goodwill and support. Arguably, both are seen as having revived the competitiveness of their respective teams. Like Liverpool, the Malaysian Opposition, was also much adrift for too long. Though it had some extremely talented personnel, like Liverpool, the Opposition desperately needed someone capable of putting some of the pieces of the puzzle together. Both Benitez and Anwar seem to have respectively brought their squads along quite some ways. They’ve both enjoyed some noteworthy wins and even had some occasions to celebrate.

As underdogs, they enjoy a lot of support from neutrals who often like to see ‘the big bully’ sometimes knocked down to reality. Liverpool’s win at Old Trafford seems to give many some reason to celebrate; much like Anwar’s successes on the comeback trail have done. As the season grinds on, both these underdogs will be wishing for something close to a miracle.

While I know the odds are against it, my heart is rooting for the improbable. (For all you United fans who are backing Pakatan, sorry I can't be of much help to you here.) 

You’ll Never Walk Alone.

G. Krishnan