It’s about the time in the season that I get itchy. I’ve endured two…or is it three…European breaks. I’ve inched back into the pub…or at least started tiny viewing parties with family and trusted friends. And now I’ve run headlong into the crazy fixtures.

“Crazy fixtures?” you say.

“That’s in the winter,” you say.

“It’s not until December,” you say. EXACTLY. Guess what month we are in? DECEMBER. That means we have already started enjoying Wednesday matches followed by Saturday matches followed by more matches. We’ll start seeing two and three….maybe four…matches in a week.

Santa climbing a palm tree in Florida during the holidays!

It’s already here and I’m hardly ready. As I type this – frantically trying to beat a deadline Tim and the honchos at AS HQ gave me – I realize it’s actually already here winter. If you need more proof, look at the postponed Burnley-Tottenham match late last month. Why? SNOW!

And with that, I welcome you to my winter WONDERING land column. Each year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I start to wonder if the season is headed in the right direction. I wonder about the players and their fitness level. I wonder about management and whether we are even going to pick up new players or go with the players we already have.

So, here are the most pressing questions on my mind as we close out 2021 with a flurry (hopefully not too literally) of matches and merriment.

The author beneath the match at the pub

Is there anyone you suggest we pick up in the transfer window? And more importantly, why?

In my mind, and maybe more so in my eyes, I think the first squad is playing well. There are definite jittery moments in matches where I fear calamity at the back. But for the most part, our defense has been able to bend and not break. I’d be happier with one more player at the back for depth…but I don’t think we need to wheel and deal this winter.

Has the officiating this season been better, worse, or the same as past seasons?

Overall, I think we haven’t noticed the officiating because of the moving target that is constantly VAR. Since we haven’t been burned repeatedly with disallowed goals and ridiculous penalties, VAR and the refs have sort of faded into the background.

Yes, it’s only going to take one bad call to get my ire up. Insert Harry Kane’s, Houdini act to avoid Red this past Sunday! For all my praise of officials, this was clear mismanagement at the highest order. Jurgen Klopp had a right to call out Paul Tierney for his terrible and inconsistent performance. Regardless, if I’m going to cry about the refs when they annoy me, I should also applaud them for staying out of the way (as a whole). Thank you, Whilstlemen, you’re doing unremarkable things…please keep it up (Paul Tierney, Booooo).

Was it really necessary to change the ball to a more visible color when clocks were set back this fall? Does this happen every season?

Are you kidding me? Didn’t you see my comment on letting fans keep balls in my last column?!!

Sorry about that. But if the EPL is willy-nilly replacing a ball because of weather, that’s a farce and purely a marketing move to sell balls. Face it, the visibility in the UK can be bad 182.5 or more days a year. Changing the ball from dull to winter visible is a crock. OR let every ball kicked into the stands stay with the fans. I may start a petition. OK, back to the questions…

SPOILER ALERT #TedLasso

What’s the hierarchy on the bench among manager and coaches. In Ted Lasso, it seems collaborative with a ton of give and take. Is our club run similarly or is Klopp more of a dictator in his style of management?

That’s a real question from me as a relatively new supporter. How does Jürgen make a decision regarding subs, strategy, playing time, and so forth?

What current Liverpool player could score from the farthest distance? Match conditions, but not under undue rush from defenders.

Since we’ve seen booming kicks from goal, I was inclined to lean that way, but I’ve changed my mind after watching Thiago’s hover ball trick. If he could visualize a lane between legs all the way down the pitch, I think Thiago could score from our own corner. He’d nutmeg so many players as the ball floated and weaved toward the goal, he’d be able to start his own holiday baking show.

Similarly, do you cheer for Liverpool because of a player, a family member, or a friend, your geographic location, or some other reason?

My American football team is the Miami Dolphins. I live in New England. It was a choice I made when I was young; the Patriots were horrible; the Dolphins actually had cheerleaders. That’s that. So, I wanted to be more strategic with my European football choice.

Holding my Miami Dolphins Ted Ginn jersey

I’m a Bostonian. I love the Red Sox. I have friends who have lived in Liverpool. My wife’s family is near Liverpool, NY. I like the color red. Leeds wasn’t in the league when I became a fan. You know, all the stuff. So I’ve chosen Liverpool and I think this has already worked out better than my Dolphins choice.

Related – Is it OK to cheer for a second team in Europe? What about within the EPL?

Blasphemy? Bad form? Maybe both. But there are some very exciting clubs that provide some soccer thrills while not detracting from my Liverpool allegiance. For instance, when Brentford goes back down, I’d like to watch some of their matches. If Toney stays with them, they’ll be back up.

Within the league, I sort of cheer for Aston Villa (prior to Steve G.) because they were the winning side in the first EPL match I watched. The colors were interesting and loud, and I like birds. Fortunately, I was informed that a Liverbird eats canaries for breakfast and that’s all I needed to know.

Lastly – What football-related gift would you like to receive this holiday season?

 With pub friends and LFC supporters

For me, it’s easy. Just a series of entertaining matches enjoyed safely in my local pub with my local LFC community. Irish breakfast, Guinness (or Carlsberg), and the loud singing of songs and waving of scarves. That’s what I want this season.

Thanks for reading. Jeff

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