Liverpool – No More Slips between the Cup and Lips

Ballwinder Paaji explains in his quirky way, what exactly did Klopp’s Liverpool do different this season to break the thirty year drought. Do read.

“Paaji!!!”, I exclaimed, “Liverpool finally won the Premier League! Can you believe it?! Who would have imagined that one day Liverpool will win the Premier league! Look at their fans, they are the ones who are in a state of absolute disbelief. Three decades it took them!” It was a hysterical moment. You wanted to share their happiness, except of course you wouldn’t, if you were a Manchester United fan.

Picture Courtesy: AFP


“Now its mathematically impossible for Manchester City or any other team to win the league, even if Liverpool loses all its matches.”

“It would have been realistically impossible any other way”, Smash! a one line response came dashing on my happiness.

george costanza disinterested gif | WiffleGif


Why would someone say something so crude in another club’s time of joy? A joy that has evaded them for the last 30 years! “Are you a Manchester United fan?”

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Really? You hate me so much!



“Liverpool, in this decade finished a couple of seasons as runners up. They came close to win but just could not.”

“Yeah. I know. Does that mean they don’t deserve to win this season?”

“Well, they did. The table speaks for itself. Seven games in advance. What do you think happened back then that they could not win despite coming so close?”, Ballwinder asked

A dream that remained unfulfilled


“Ummm…I don’t know. I don’t remember..”, replied while still thinking why did they not make it despite coming so close. I could start feeling that I am just about to topple from the moral horse that I was riding…for a couple of minutes.

Falling Off Horse GIFs | Tenor
Moral High Horse


“When the season came down to the wire, Liverpool buckled under pressure.”

“Liverpool surged from below the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City under the SAS partnership – Suarez and Sturridge – the highest goalscorers of the league that season. The last few games of the season were left. They were at the pole position to win the league. Or as they say in England – ‘It was theirs to lose’. You know then what happened? Steven Gerrard slipped in an all crucial game against Chelsea, who went on to defeat them two-nil. At Anfield.”

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The great Liverpool slip…down the table


“And in the penultimate game they threw away their 3 goal lead to Crystal Palace. Manchester City were home and won the league on the final day by 2 points.”

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City won the league 2 points


“And then what happened in the last season? Huh?”, asked Ballwinder in an interrogator tone

Interrogation GIFs | Tenor
What happened? Huh?


“Liverpool had a seven point lead on the table in January 2019. Seven points ahead, they lose to Manchester City in that month and then falter with some draws in relatively easier fixtures. They scored 97 points. No club that has finished runners up has scored those many points! Yet Liverpool did!”

John Stones makes remarkable goal-line clearance for Man City ...
The story of Season 2018-19 in a picture                Pic Courtesy – Sky Sports


“When the league goes down to the wire, Liverpool has had a problem to succumb under pressure. And to eventually top a table of what many might regard as one of the toughest league in the world and perhaps the most unpredictable too; makes it even more difficult. For Liverpool to win something this big required them to have so much more nerves through out the year. Which the players don’t have.”

“So what do you think happened this year?”, I sheepishly ask Ballwinder Paaji.

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Sheepish Me


Even Klopp did not trust Liverpool to win the league if it went down the wire. His club played every game with a virtue that this would be that game which gives them that one extra point from the last season. Klopp did not leave anything to chance or mathematics.

“From the very first game, Klopp pushed the peddle so hard that you would have probably got exhausted watching Liverpool’s intensity on the pitch. They played every game as if to extract 4 points from it.”


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When the ref decided to give him only three points for a win


“So you if you look at the table, Liverpool did not leave anything to the probability of permutations and combinations in the league. They played every game to win the league. Liverpool has lost only one match and drawn only two. That’s when Chelsea defeated Manchester City a couple of nights ago which made it “Mathematically” impossible for anybody else to win the league.”


“Mathematically Impossible”                            Picture Courtesy : Experimental361


Tonight, as always, Ballwinder Paaji won the argument. And Liverpool won the league. Next time I will be as prepared as Klopp.

Klopp GIFs | Tenor
One day I shall celebrate after defeating Ballwinder in a discussion


Liverpool vs Arsenal – Boot Room versus Marble Halls

The Boot Room was a sacrosanct place to the identity and spirituality of the Liverpool FC. Eight years back I took the Anfield stadium tour where they showed what used to be the Boot Room. They would make you stand around it and passionately narrate its significance. In the Liverpool history and tradition, it is that dome where the Gods and their chosen men sat for the light to shine upon them before and after every match. Perhaps the temple where the warriors and their leaders went to speak with the immortals. They would not hide their angst that it does not exist any more. They would also look up to the Gods in repentance, seeking for liberation from the curse that the Gods have stuck them with, for demolishing it was a mistake, not a sin. Last season they thought that the Gods were forgave them. They hoped enough for the Reds to nip the Premier League from their new Manchester rivals. As I watched the final day match and the result thereon, I could not help but think of the Boot Room. Although they won the Champions league, but never the Premier League.

The Boot Room. Picture Courtesy : Mirrorpix

After my Anfield trip, I had the opportunity of taking the Emirates tour as well. They were definitely proud of how the Arsenal FC has naturally progressed through its steady successes of the late nineties. The stadium itself was a matter of pride and they felt that it commanded its position as the majestic marvel in this classical city of the world – London. But did it have the warmth and the coziness of the Marble halls from the East End of Highbury? The Gooners would take a moment of silence before they answered. The moment that the loyalists needed to convince themselves that progress and change are as organic as the nature itself . That moment they usually took to quickly relive and wipe out the memory of being the Invincibles in the history of the English Premier League. They also believed somewhere that they were juggling the jinx ever since they moved from Highbury to Emirates. Whilst at Emirates, the Gunners reached the finals many a times but never won anything more than a few FA Cups. Especially never the league.

Marble Halls

What would they have in common, these two clubs, apart from their cycles of ups and downs, their jinx which still seems to have gripped them, their history, their legacy and their ingrained despise for Manchester United? They are not even territorial enemies, neither were they league contenders at the same point in recent history. There has not been any particular player swoop which would have antagonized one team’s fans with the other. What made Liverpool vs Arsenal (#LIVARS) a special fixture then?

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No real animosity. Picture Courtesy : The Anfield Wrap

One of the most entertaining footballing encounters from time immemorial has been Liverpool vs Arsenal – a fact that could be statistically backed. The only memories that one can vividly remember is the intensity of the game between these two clubs. You can almost never point out the exact year or the season. But you know it happened and how. Record goals scored per match and the highest number of hat-tricks are just a few attributes of this fixture. These clubs with their most animated matches may not have received its hype. Despite their positions and strengths in the league, #LIVARS has been a fiercely fought match with injury time goals, last minute penalties, sometimes three goals in three minutes, and sometimes a player scoring all four goals in a match. This is  a match where a comeback could also face a backlash. An anti climax could also face an anti climax. No matter what the result, it usually tends to have its impact on the league table.

Four-goal feast is not enough for Arsenal striker Andrei Arshavin
Four At Anfield. Picture Courtesy : Getty Images


Firmino’s No Look Goal. Picture Courtesy : Getty Images

Liverpool lost only one match in the entire last season. Of course not to Arsenal. But it did have a draw with Arsenal at the Emirates, perhaps a couple of points that could have landed Liverpool a point above the title winners Manchester City. Who could have possibly known that Arsenal would have indirectly impacted Liverpool’s title chances. This match today would be one of those rare moments where Liverpool and Arsenal are the league leaders, after two matches. Well they are the only two teams to have won the two games out of the two played. Given how close was the title race as well as the top four finish, this game so early in the league has created its own importance. Any team with a clear win today could perhaps send a different kind of ripple effect down the colloquial “Top Six”. With Chelsea taking a drubbing at Old Trafford and Tottenham holding the fort against Manchester City, it is for Arsenal to upset the apple cart of the convenient rivalry between City and Liverpool for the title.  Can Arsenal finally win three in a row at the start of a season (After the Invincibles season)? Can Liverpool hold its lead for this week? Can this fixture be a decider so early for the League winners?

Who knows. I don’t mean to jinx it.

Mohamed Salah thanks Allah after scoring a goal
Picture Courtesy: Eddie Keogh/Reuters


Picture Courtesy: Getty Images

Elephant vs Tail

India lost yet another test cricket series abroad. Ballwinder explains elephant and its tail over a cup of Black Ivory Coffee.

“And yet again Indian Cricket team loses a test series abroad”, I said with a quick glance towards Ballwinder Paaji while swapping the sports channel to the one where Premier League was on.

England vs South Africa 2017, third Test match, Day 2: LIVE streaming, TV listing, date, time, venue
We did it again, lads! PC: Reuters


“How can you claim to be the best batting line up in the world when you collapse before such low totals?”, I looked again at Ballwinder paaji. “Who is responsible for such performances?”, I was on a rant, hoping for some response. It had been long, I did not realise what exactly was I asking for. Ballwinder paaji was busy burning the fresh Arabica beans for his double/triple shot espresso. But he was listening.

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There is coffee, and then there is espresso


“Elephant and its tail”, said Ballwinder.

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Lemme introduce this beauty called the elephant, and well of course, its tail.


“You sire, are in for a ride. Perhaps an elephant ride”, I said to myself. The most exciting thing about an elephant is its size, its trunk, its tusk. Why would anybody even think about its tail. Who has ever even thought about its tail.

Elephant Hair-Facts About Circuses
Elephant’s tail


Then there is Ballwinder. Ballwinder would tell me not only the significance of an elephant’s tail, but also its relevance in the context of Indian cricket team losing yet another cricket series abroad. Now I don’t even bother asking the obvious question like “Ballwinder Paaji, What on earth just happened?  I just commented on the consistent claims of Indian team to be the best in the world despite losing abroad, series after series??”. But I did not ask. I just patiently waited for Ballwinder to address the “elephant” in the room. He knew what I was thinking. He looked at me with a slight smile and only broke eye contact when his coffee did the magic for him.

good morning drinking GIF by Panic! At The Disco
“I know what’s on your mind. Wait, this coffee is ecstatic!”


“Elephant is such a majestic animal. You are in its absolute awe. That trunk, the tusk, you are blown away. A creature of magnanimity, true class. And then there is its tail. A tail which does not go with its size, style, trunk or tusk. Something that is there to give it acceptance in the jungle. Everybody’s got one. Well, elephant should also have it. What’s its purpose. For example, look at a cheetah, its tail helps as rudder when it attacks. Look at a crocodile, its tail gives a torpedo effect in water. We, homo sapiens, did not have any use of it, so it vanished. Poor elephant is stuck with this tail. Just as a part of nature’s contract. Quite a price to pay, must I say.

Cheetah’s tail


Crocodile launches completely out of the water, using its powerful tale. Photo: Trevor Frost, screen grab
  Crocodile’s tail


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Again, Elephant’s tail


“That’s interesting, Ballwinder Paaji”, I said with intrigue. I actually was. Useless, elephant’s tail. As enlightening as it sounded, I still sought an answer to my question. “I understand this much, that you are referring to the Indian cricket team as an elephant. Its character can be compared to the class that an elephant belongs to. But what’s with the tail? Who is the tail? Why is the Indian team losing series after series”, I had to address the “elephant” in the room.

benedict cumberbatch sherlock GIF by BBC
What’s the tail gotta do with the Indian cricket team?


“The tail end of the Indian batting is the elephant’s tail”, said Ballwinder in a firm voice. A voice that sounded as if coffee was still somewhere there in the throat. I was shocked. I was taken aback. Not as much by the voice as by his reply. “The tail end of Indian batting, you mean the bowlers? They are not supposed to be batsmen”, I was enraged. At the tip of being offended.

Mohammed Shami
Why always me?


“Indian bowlers are not tail end batsmen Ballu Paaji, they are bowlers. We have to play them else the English would never have gotten out. In fact, Ballu Paaji, they got the England batting limited to such low scores! Here (England) as well as against South Africa! They did their job!”, I  said, now officially being offended.

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Indian bowling is not tail ending batting!


Ballwinder was unmoved. He was not at all moved by my reaction. Somewhere he knew that truth is as bitter as coffee. Not everybody can handle it bitterness the first time they sip it. One has to get used to such bitterness called the truth to relish its flavour and slowly come to terms with one’s mind and soul. He continued to sip his coffee, while my blood boiled in ignorance.

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Coffee is bitter, so is the Truth


“I understand your angst”, said Ballwinder Paaji while trying to patronise me. “But this is the bitter truth. Indian batting is as majestic as an elephant. You have to, have to admire it. You don’t have any choice. You just can’t criticise. Someday you might admire its trunk (Kohli), someday its tusk might stand out (Pujara), maybe never as a whole, but you can never condemn the elephant in its totality (The “grand” top order batting performance). Because you just cannot question the beauty of the elephant. Everybody ends up disgusted with the tail, never with the elephant. Who is acknowledging the fact that the Indian bowling performance has been unprecedented, that they have been successful in limiting the opposition batting to such low scores in the recent test matches? If the bowlers themselves cannot fend the challengers’ bowling attack, play between the gaps, keep rotating the strike, hit the odd one out for a boundary, and reduce the bat-pad gap, well then, they are as efficient as an elephant’s tail.”

 Although I could not even raise them, Ballwinder Paaji opened my eyes. I wish I never had to find out the truth. Not at least this way.

My eyes were opened, just couldn’t raise them.


“Ballwinder Paaji, how would you go about dealing with such an elephant?”, I asked gathering back my zen.

“I will make the most beautiful roasted coffee through the elephant’s digestion – Black Ivory Coffee”, responded Ballwinder paaji.

Black Ivory Roasted Coffee


“In fact, I was just having it. You want to try some?”, asked Ballwinder Paaji as a gentleman.

“Thanks, but no thanks”, I said with the straightest possible face.

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Elephant fermented coffee – Thanks but no thanks



World Cup Police Diaries -IV

Someone might have seen this boy in Russia.

Finding Nemo


“Nemo…Where are you?!?! Nemo!! Where are you son?!”, shouted the concerned father across the crowded streets of Russia.

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Looking for his son, Nemo


“What happened sir, are you looking for someone?”, asked the helpful Russian Police Officers

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We’ve already qualified! How can we help you?


“Sir, I am looking for my son, I had adopted him, we happily lived in Paris, he is missing since the beginning of the year, I have been looking for him. I was told he might be here. Please help me find him. Please officer please! I have been looking for him since the start of the World Cup! I just cannot find him”

I beg you. Please!


“Ok! Ok! Stop! We will help you! Do you have any picture of his?”, asked the cops in a heavy voice.

crying peter parker - stop, just stop I'm sorry ok?
Stop. I am sorry I asked.


“I call him Nemo, here, this is his picture”



“What the hell?!?! You don’t look like his father!?”, said the cop getting annoyed

How does he even look like your son?!


The man looking annoyed, pours a plate on his head and says “Happy?!”

Related image


“Alpha to Charlie, Finding Neymar, Copy, Over”, said the cop over the radio.

Cop Walkie Talkie Terrific Timeline July 12 2012 7 15pm First Arrest
Did he turn up at least today or what?!?


“Good news sir, He has finally turned up today, he is safe, diving and dancing “, confirmed the Cop.



“Thank you very much, Sir! I am glad he finally showed up today!”

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When you see him doing a Messi, but suddenly Ronaldo happens





World Cup Police Diaries -III

Barmy and Negligent driving by the English in Russia.

Barmy and Negligent Driving!


“Excuse me sir”, said a polite, composed voice, to which the Police officer turned.

The officer who turned to the polite, calm, soothing voice

“We wish to lodge a complaint.”, said the warm, welcoming, local Russian fan base

The local Russian fan base

“Yes, How can we help”, responded the alert police force

Will a name-change clean up Russia's corrupt police force?
The alert police force. Picture Courtesy: Retuers

“We wish to report rash, negligent driving in the neighborhood”, said the leader of the local fan base in his polite pitch.

SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY…Monster Truck Madness!
Barmy and Negligent driving

“Who do you think is behind this?”, asked the concerned cops

Concerned Cops

“The English…”, politely pointed by another member of the neighbourhood

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Politely pointing out

“The English hooligans!?”, asked the Cop

UEFA EURO 2016 England - Russland Ausschreitungen in Marseille
English fans Picture Courtesy: Reuters/ J.P. Pelissler

“NO Sir! the English football team”

Three Lions on Unicorns, living it dangerously
Pickford crashes off the inflatable unicorn as Maguire (right) watches his goalkeeper falling
Barmy and Negligent skills
Lingard turned photographer as he used a camera to take photos of defender Ashley Young
Recording their over-speeding antics.

The Russian police officer was left spellbound.

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Officer left spellbound

World Cup Police Diaries -II

Egyptians complain again!

It all started on the first day of the World Cup, when the Egyptian team went to the cops to complain about their loss.   Check out the first complaint that was made

It saw a trend of many people now complaining about different things to the cops. The Russian cops have taken out a report of all the complaints that have been made as yet:

Egyptians complain again!

The pharaoh went teary eyed to the Cops, “One more complaint please”

The Pharaoh – Mo Salah

“Whats the matter this time around? Whodunnit?”, asked the Cops, looking satiated after a comforting victory against the Egyptians.


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The Cops asking “Whodunnit?”


The pharaoh replied, “Ahmed Fathy”

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Ahmed Fathy displaying the goal difference between Russia and Egypt through his legs

Russian Cop, without changing much of his facial reaction, “Awww, don’t worry, we have a perfect punishment in mind for him”, while trying to placate Salah with some flowers

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Yuri Smityuk via Getty Images


“Ahmed Fathy !”, Shouted the cop, “Come here. ‘Kneel Down’!”

Pic Courtesy: