Oh, VAR!-May 26, 2022

The 2021/22 Premier League season is over, so besides lamenting the obvious points dropped, fans can now wonder what might have been without video assistance referees (VAR). Statistics have been developed by ESPN looking at the yes and no of VAR decisions, and it’s the stuff of pub arguments whether your team was helped or hurt. Though, the VAR-adjusted table shows that Manchester City and Liverpool would have ended 1st and 2nd, it omits the most egregious decision of the season (because there was no reversal), in my mind: the ‘handball’ by Rodri (Man City) against Everton, late in the match, when the score was 1-0, and could have given a chance to equalize with a penalty, that was clear as day but the referees missed, even after VAR. It was so bad that the refereeing body issued an apology to Everton!

For Liverpool fans, that non-decision was the one that ‘cost’ their team the title (if City had only gotten 1 point, not 3, then Liverpool would have ended 1 point ahead). I won’t go there, not least because it avoids discussing other dubious calls that might have gone in Liverpool’s favour. But, do I need to be so neutral? 🙂

Anyway, have fun reading the table and commentaries”

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It was so close…-May 22, 2022

The Premier League 2021/22 season ended in dramatic fashion, with Manchester City retaining their title, winning 4 of the past 5 seasons. Credit to them, for doing that in dramatic fashion with a stunning comeback from 0-2 down to win 3-2, to a team they have hardly ever lost to at home, led by a Liverpool legend, trying to be their nemesis, and a former Liverpool star holding briefly the key to their former club’s snatch and grab of the title. But, it was not to be. Liverpool did their job, winning, and the rest was down to others. The title was never Liverpool’s to win, being 14 points behind City at one stage and only leading for a total of 11 days, mostly in the early weeks; it was City’s to lose, having led the league most of the season, for 168 days. Credit, too, to The Reds, who were the only other team to mount a sustained challenge to City, and to the final day. It’s more noteworthy because Liverpool were competing well on all fronts, chasing a unique quadruple. They’ve managed two legs of that, winning the Carabao and FA Cups, and have the Champions League final to come at the weekend. But, it has truly been a dream season, and the league title would have been really sweet icing. It’s no consolation that the total points gained by Liverpool would have won the league in most years. They and City have set a standard far higher than other clubs have so far been able to match.

It was farewell to Divock Origi, a true club legend and individual highlight reel. He warrants more playing time with a big club, and I hope he finds that with AC Milan, who won Série A on the last day in Italy.

Awards went to several Liverpool players. I don’t think much of the ‘Player of the season’ award, voted for by fans, writers and team captains, not least because the fan voting can be manipulated. The Football Writers’ Awards are more meaningful, as are the Premier League awards based simply on statistical performances.

Liverpool players were in the top 3 places, an astonishing outcome, with its two full backs supporting its ‘winger’.

I really think highly of Liverpool’s goalkeeper, who has done more to solidify the defense, almost single-handedly. The team play a high risk defensive ‘high line’ and Allison is often called on to defend one-on-one.

Tracking Trump-May 21, 2022

I really dislike Donald Trump, so this is almost at the edge of my personal tolerance, but I feel a duty to history to try to stay abreast of what I hope is his slow demise. That’s it!

COVID update: 5th wave confirmed-May 19, 2022

Health and wellness minister Tufton held a media briefing, on May 18, where he confirmed the existence of the 5th COVID wave in Jamaica, with infection, positivity and reproductive rates all rising, significantly.

His main points are in the following thread, but notably the trend is being driven by OMICRON BA2 variant.

The Education minister also briefed on COVID infections within the school system and plans to deal with those and keep in-person classes in place, though some schools have reverted to online classes:

Liverpool FC’s ‘Operation Quadruple’ continues-May 15, 2022

If you’re not a Reds fan, look away now! Liverpool are already the most successful club in English football. Yesterday, they added one more trophy-the FA Cup 2022; their 2nd this season, also a cup, also won by penalties after 0-0 at the end of extra time, also against Chelsea.

The club is in the hunt for a unique quadruple of all domestic titles and the Champions League titles. They’re already unique for being the first English club to participate in every possible fixture in a season.

Klopp has now won every competition the club has played in:

Many people do not know the long history and only see the past 3 decades of the premier League era. I’m lucky to have been on the trail since 1962, after Liverpool won promotion from the then-Second Division, under Bill Shankly and started to create a ‘machine’ that has now been dubbed ‘mentality monsters’.

Founded in 1892 and won promotion from the second division in 1893/4, and their first top tier title in 1900/1. They won the league in most decades through to the 1940s. They were dominant domestically in the first division and internationally in Europe in the 1970s-80s. They failed to win a league title in the Premier League era till 2019, when they broke the 30-year drought.

Doing it the hard way in finals or en route to them is not news to Liverpool FC. Did you sleep through the 4-0 win over Barcelona in 2019 to overcome a 0-3 deficit? Well, you’re rare:

This season’s first drama was the Carabao Cup final that went to penalty shootouts and Liverpool won that 11-10:

The real drama was not just the kicks but also the philosophical issues behind the team selections before and during the match. Simply, Liverpool kept faith with their #2 goalkeeper from round 1, Chelsea did not. Liverpool’s Kelleher delivered during the final match and he sealed it with a penalty kick. Chelsea’s Kepa didn’t deliver, as hoped, saving no penalties and missing his kick-not his fault to be brought on just for the shootouts.

In yesterday’s FA Cup Final, both teams had great moments and excellent chances to score, each side hitting the woodwork, but neither found the net after 120 minutes of regular time and extra time.

Allison saved during the match, crucially during the shootouts and led from the back, calmly in clear and subtle ways:

Bit players in Liverpool’s 25-man squad bit hard and came up big, again. It was Kostas Tsimikas-the ‘Greek Scouser’-who cost Chelsea the trophy:

He’s embraced his new club and city:

Let’s celebrate the win:

Let’s walk, together, never alone.

Up for’t’cup…FA Cup Final 2022-May 14, 2022

Having managed to get to Wembley for the Carabao Cup final on February 27, which fitted nicely within a trip long-planned, I seriously thought about heading to London, again, to see the wind-down of an exhilarating season in English football. I wanted to be there for the FA Cup Final (May 14), to see if Liverpool could snatch the Premier League title (last day May 22), and win the Champions League Final (May 28). It was not working out well. So, I opted for a decent second-best: I’d spend the time with my first-born, who is a football coach in her ‘spare’ time. Decision made; tickets bought; I decided to fly on…Friday, 13th…Hmm.

It was a little tricky as the date arrived because our local air traffic controllers went on strike the day before, but all was back to normal the next day.

I got into Washington DC after midnight, but my daughter was there to pick me up. We drove about 30 minutes and then chatted a bit before I crashed.

Saturday was all about the final and getting into the right mood: it’s much better to have company for a match. However, my hostess had coaching duties, so I became acquainted with her cat 🙂 I had a nice breakfast and then nestled into the sofa.

By the time the game started, 11.45am DST, I was truly nervous; it’s hard to sit in front of a TV to watch Liverpool play, though being at a match is much easier, for me. I settled in and started my screaming and squeezing of cushions alone. About 20 minutes in, my fellow fan arrived. We watched together till the end of extra time (120 minutes of play). I decided that the penalty shootouts would be fine without me: I don’t like them. So, I headed out to run some errands. As I sat on a Metro train, waiting to leave, I found WiFi. I clicked on the match feed: Liverpool win 6-5 on penalties. Yes! Job done! The elusive quadruple is still on. Amazing.

I went back to the mundane; I was running errands. I ended the day ‘celebrating’ over a burger and beer, and my daughter called to say she was nearby, so joined me. Not Champagne corks, but damned nice feeling.

My pulse had hit 130bps during the match (resting 68). That’s how it is. Love it! Passion!

Trouble a’t mill: Jamaican public sector flexes its muscles-May 13, 2022

Trouble a’t mill!

It’s been a traumatic week on the island, for residents and potential visitors, as various groups of public sector workers baulked over long-standing compensation reviews and working conditions. Whatever the proximate reasons, these actions will dent the economic recovery begun after the worst of the pandemic.

Things kicked off with workers for the water supply company walking off the job on Tuesday and closing the valves. Many people already have erratic water supplies but now no water was assured. Some 500,000 customers-and many more people-were affected.

The government soon ordered the army to try to open the valves; they couldn’t.

Appeals came from the PM for workers to end the strike:

Negotiations were hastily accelerated and some resolution found, and workers were instructed to return to work on Wednesday. The Minister for Labour misled Parliament and the nation by claiming most people had water again, but soon retracted that claim as many looked at non-existent supplies.

Next, air traffic controllers walked out of the control towers mid-morning on Thursday, effectively closing Jamaica off from arriving or departing planes. Their principal grievance was working with a defective radar system, which had been a source of safety concerns for nearly a decade. The air space was technically not closed but the sky was empty over the island. Some 10,000 passengers were stranded-including our youngest daughter. It’s estimated that US$… The international publicity wasn’t good. The economic damage may be unpleasant, coming on top of the impact of water woes earlier in the week.

On Friday, National Housing Trust staff at HQ closed their books and ledgers.

Civil servants unions threatened during Friday to call out workers from Monday, then relented.

Wherever things go, next week, the country learned that some small groups of essential workers can hold the country at ransom.

It also learned that it’s not prepared for national disaster that may flow from industrial action.

It also learned that the habit of protracted negotiations over pay and conditions can have dire consequences.

But, which of these lessons will be heeded?

Here we go, again, Jamaica-COVID 5th wave is here-May 11, 2022

UK local elections-Tory Party bashed over #Partygate-May 7, 2022

Lots of wounds had to licked after Thursday’s voting was over. Tory councils got booted.

PM Johnson’s Partygate antics weighed heavily:

London was a ‘bloodbath’ and the PM now lives in a Labour-controlled borough:

The outcomes elsewhere were mixed, though it was a good night for the Lib-Dems.

So, what’s next?

New White House Press Secretary-May 6, 2022

Karine Jean-Pierre will be the first black woman and the first openly LGBTQ+ person to serve as the White House Press Secretary.

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