Nightman Gets Excited About Liverpool Goals – Part One!

Liverpool F.C. - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! I don’t typically write about Sport much here – I’ve tried in the past but have given up because I gave up caring and because nobody else did. Also, given the amount of genuine Sports blogs and Journalism out there, why would I bother throwing my balls onto the pitch too? To be fair, the same can be said for any topic, and as this is something I currently feel like writing about, hopefully the people who come here to laugh at my crap will get something out of this too. Probably not, I know.

Given Liverpool’s recent title win and groundbreaking season, I thought I would go back and revisit the best goals we’ve scored. I usually do this at the end of the Season when some kind soul on Youtube creates a compilation video, but this time I thought I’d do a bit of a write-along. First I was going to do a list of my favourite goals, then I thought I’d just do them all. These aren’t going to be match reviews necessarily, just my thoughts on the silky skills. I’m only including Premiership goals here, no other competitions. So let us begin!

Liverpool 4 – Norwich 1

Our first game of the Season saw us in terrifying form. Our Pre-Season wasn’t the most exciting but we got off to a flying start here, putting four past lowly Norwich. It’s perhaps amusing that the first goal scored this Season was an OG by Norwich’s hapless Hanley. Good work down the wing by Origi and a simple ball played into the six yard box saw Hanley stick a leg out in hope, inadvertently sticking into his own net – if it was any consolation, Firmino and Salah were lurking behind him and may have slotted home. Salah got the second goal, his first of another superb season, and there was a touch of luck involved with the ball bobbing around the box and dropping favourably twice to Liverpool boots – though the hunger to reach these balls first was clearly greater than the frightened Norwich defence. Salah picks it up after a Firmino pass, and side foots it into the net – simple. Salah turned provider for the third goal of the first half, swinging in a simple corner for the beast Van Dijk to rise above everyone else to power home a trademark header through the keeper’s legs. Making it 4 in the first half was my favourite of the bunch – the first of many floating crosses by TAA this Season, cutting the defence in two and allowing Origi to head in his first goal. Firmino should have made it five in the second half – a goal which would have been the best of the game after Henderson saw a shot touched on to the crossbar, followed by some silky Salah and TAA interplay leading to Firmino getting the balls caught under his feet.

Southampton 1 – Liverpool 2

A tighter affair didn’t see many chances for The Reds in the first half, and we could have been behind but for Adrian. In injury time in the first half, Sadio Mane channelled his inner Coutinho, coming in from the left after some swift triangle work, and unleashes an absolute belter into the top corner. Poor Bobby fluffed his lines again after a blistering counter attack, putting his chance narrowly past the wrong side of the post but made up for his miss by skipping a couple of challenges and hitting home from just outside the box. Former Red Danny Ings got a consolation goal, but it was Mane’s rocket which gets my vote for Goal Of The Game.

Liverpool 3 – Arsenal 1

Arsenal have been on a downward spiral since Arsene Venger departed, similar to The Scum once Red Nose retired. If there was any single reason why those two teams had such success in the 90s and 2000s, it was because of their two managers – taking sometimes average teams and making them consistent winners. Without that consistency, that same lack of consistency which Liverpool had in the 90s, those two teams have fallen on hilarious hard times. This game had some comedy defending from both teams before TAA’s corner and Joel Matip’s head broke the deadlock. Weekly mistake-maker David Luiz gifted Liverpool a second goal, tugging back Salah who looked clear to score and giving away a Penalty. Salah battered it into the top corner. As if that wasn’t enough, Salah destroyed Luiz on the halfway line and proceeded to sprint towards the quivering Arsenal goal before slotting home in my choice of Goal Of The Game.

Burnley 0 – Liverpool 3

Our final game of August was of course another win, with Salah almost scoring another screamer after Mane passed out wide allowing Mo to crash one into the post. Trent… he’ll say it was a goal but of course it was supposed to be a cross – in any case his 30 plus yard lob found Pope off his line and the ball swinging over his head and in. If there’s any lesson teams have learned this year – it’s if you make a mistake, Liverpool will make you pay. A ball given away near the centre circle saw Firmino race away, play it Mane, and Mane bang it in for the second. Bobby wrapped up the third after some persistence from Salah, the ball sneaking away from him but into the path of Firmino. Goal Of The Game to TAA.

Are you a Liverpool fan? A bitter Manc? Someone who has no clue what I’m talking about? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Retro Games – ISS Deluxe!

international-superstar-soccer-deluxe-usa

Football games – a staple of home and arcade games machines for as long as man or machine can remember, they have been an endless source of fun and vitriol for me since my Spectrum days. While I played a good many football games before getting a SNES, they mostly paled in comparison to that fateful day when International Superstar Soccer Deluxe arrived in the Nightman household. At this point, the only true multiplayer experiences I had had in my own house were on Super Mario Kart and Super Bomberman – both classics, and when ISS joined the drawer of games in my brother’s bedroom we had a new King.

There’s a strong case for ISS Deluxe being the best football game ever – sure it didn’t have real player names, and it obviously cannot compete with the graphics and sheer amount of options we have in the likes of Pro Ev and Fifa today, but for pure, terrifying enjoyment there is none better. With some ultra smooth, balanced gameplay, it was and is still a delight to play, without getting bogged down by all the realism and extras of today’s versions.

79927-international-superstar-soccer-deluxe-snes-screenshot-free

As with all my gaming posts, this is part review, part personal recollection – more of why I liked it rather than why it is actually good. This was one of the many SNES games that I had immense fun playing by myself on, as well as with others and therefore have plenty of fond memories. To start with some review-ish comments, the game (as the title suggests) only features international teams meaning there was no local or national team rivalry when playing. When you’re young though you’ll find anything to be rivals over, such as who gets the pound coin from Granda, or who gets the five twenty pence pieces. I can’t recall how many teams were actually in the game, but it was at least 16 (probably more than 30), and featured all the main European and South American giants, along withe counties from Asia, Africa, and unlockable All Star teams. The teams did not feature real player names, due to licensing issue, but thanks to how much I played this game versus how much international football I watched I was probably more familiar with the invented player names than the real ones. Thanks to some graphical flourishes though, you could tell quite clearly who certain players were – Roberto Baggio had a ponytail, Ruud Gullit had a massive mop of dark weaving hair, while Chris Waddle had the uncanny ability to sky rocket every penalty.

_74115757_waddle
Boutros

Before you started your game there were a wealth of options, and before you got near those you even had a nifty title sequence followed by the eternal battle cry of ‘International, Superstar Soccer – DELUXE!’ On the main menu you had a variety of game modes – one off friendly match, short league, short cup, World Cup, World Series (ahem), penalties, training, and the ever popular Scenarios mode which saw you having to meet some explicit challenge such as winning a game with only a minute remaining and being a goal behind, to beating a vastly superior team with a vastly inferior team. These were a great, addictive extra, but I never could beat them all.

Penalties mode is as you would expect, while Training allowed you to hone your skills in peace. All of this was set to some funky, jazzy, and hyper-infectious music which I’m humming out loud as I type. The meat of the game of course comes in the actual competitions, and in these you had a wealth of options I had certainly not experienced before – kit types, weather types, night versus day, stadiums to choose from, how long you wanted games to be, and even changing the skills of the team and the keeper. Before starting any game you could choose your Keeper skill out of a range of 10, from essentially a man with no limbs in goals, up to essentially a brick wall. This led to many multiplayer moments of hilarious treachery as you would switch your opponent’s keeper skill down to one when they weren’t looking and laugh as every shot you hit went sailing into the net as they screamed on helplessly confused. The outfield players skills and fitness were displayed neatly as smiling faces – pink and smiling meant they were on fire, while sagging and purple meant they were at death’s door – again you could customize these to your liking. The honest way to play in the player versus computer tournaments was of course to cope with what you were given – if your best player was purple, you had to choose to risk playing him, or dropping him for some reject on the bench who never normally got a 90 minutes.

pai
Your typical one-sided affair

The graphics in the game are as bright and crisp as you would expect for a SNES game, but it really shines in the little details, such as player animations, and amount of stuff happening on screen. You could have multiple players on the screen, the handy map running at the bottom, rain booming down, and there would never be a drop in rate or change in how smooth the play was. Players and their kits were instantly recognizable, and there was a large selection of hilarious animations to wade through, from goal celebrations (including the Klinsman) to tackles, step overs, headers, and shrugging innocently to the crowd after being booked for snapping someone’s legs. Tackling was one of the most fun parts of the game, made even more fun by the (under-used nowadays) shoulder charge. Sometimes you would get so infuriated by your opponent, especially if they were cackling in the room beside you, as the somehow dodged every tackle and scored every goal that you would spent an entire half shoulder charging around the screen in an attempt to injure as many of their players as possible. This led, not only to a multitude of bookings and sendings-off, but also the immortal ‘DIRTY PLAY, REF!’ as you knocked someone to the ground and got away with it. Off the ball shoulder charging was great fun, and you would not be caught for doing it. Now that I mention it, you could also choose from three referees, one strict, one lenient, and one Collina. No matter who was there, I tended to get red cards more often than not for my exuberant 100 hard dash followed by elbow in the face on screen antics.

20130330003012-80fdcbb4
Wasn’t me, ref

One other fun thing to do was slide tackle the goalie when they had the ball in their hands. This also tended to lead to an immediate red card, but sometimes you could get away with it which was always hilarious. In my house the SNES belonged to my older brother and at weekends he would sometimes have friends round to play Bomberman, ISS, and Mario Kart, and I would get brought into the action. This of course meant 4 player tournaments, and the dreaded two versus two, or two versus 1 player games. I think in all the games we ever played against my brother, we never beat him in a 2 versus 1. I still have nightmares about coming so close to victory one or two times, only for some mishap to defeat us. My brother’s friend Keith and I would team up. I was okay at the game, not as good as my brother, while Keith was worse than me, but for some reason we thought 2 was better than 1. I still remember leading one game 1-0 with seconds to go on the clock when Keith dove in with a Dirty Play Ref and gave away a penalty. 1-1. Into injury time I had a chance and smashed the ball from all of 40 yards into the cross-bar. This somehow fell to my brother on the wing and he was able to dance his way past every challenge, glide into my box and slip it past the keeper 1-2. Final whistle. Some things are best left in the past.

Having friends round for a 10-9 Friday night thriller was always excellent entertainment, but when I played on my own my list-keeping self would always come out. I would set up my own extended super-leagues, and keep a pen and pencil record of goals scored and best performances by my beloved Brazil. I probably still have pages and pages stored of results and goals by Allejo, Gomez, Santoz, and all of my other ISS heroes. This was before I had any management sim – I would run a tight ship based on who made mistakes in my games versus who scored a glorious last minute winner. While I always played as Brazil my brother was occasionally England, but mostly Holland -led by the dreaded Van Wijk. The computer had five levels of difficulty, and each one seemed nicely weighted with 1 being exceedingly easy, and 5 being pant-fillingly brutal, but all the more satisfying to slaughter.

Scoring goals in the game was perfection, from leaping headers, to hoofing one into the top corner from just inside the halfway line. Free-kicks were difficult to score, but not impossible, while hat tricks were common place. If you did score a hat trick you would get a bonus animation shown on the stadium screen. Likewise, if you came from behind to lead you would get a further stadium screen animation. It’s these little touches that felt beautiful and helped you rub the shattered remains of your best friend’s dignity into their stinking faces. The commentary was good fun too, and would pervade my every day speech, from ‘IT’S A BIIIG KICK’ to ‘NO FOUL?’ It was all charming and effective, and didn’t distract. Some of the controls would occasionally distract, like when you were trying to get the ball off an opponent and repeatedly hitting the tackle button, sometimes they would lose the ball by mistake and your tackle suddenly turned into a massive ‘boot the ball out of play’ as you couldn’t cancel the action. It all added to the fun though. Adding to the fun too was the good old ‘turn the referee’ into a dog cheat – pointless, but pretty funny.

stephen-hawking_0

ISS Deluxe is an immortal watershed in football games. It must be one of the few sports titles that truly stands the test of time, over 20 years after its release, and a reminder of a time when Konami was king. Did you have the game? What are your cherished memories of it, or are there moments you have tried to forget? Let us know in the comments!

The Shelvey Show

Well, it’s been a long international break, but thankfully the real football is back. Liverpool travelled to Swansea in search of another 3 points but came away with only 1 in a thrilling 2-2 draw. Swansea are a difficult team to beat, especially at home, and last night’s encounter was a hard fought battle. Victor Moses got his first goal for us, while The Sturridge Machine bagged another. However, the headlines will go to JJ Shelley, the ex-red who had a hand in all four goals, scoring Swansea’s first early on, and setting up their equalizer late on. These things happen regularly in football, hopefully Torres won’t remember how to play any time soon.

A dodgy Cup win, but a win nonetheless

Liverpool’s first foray into Cup football this season ended with a costly win, and 6 goals.Sturridge was the hero again, with another brace, but the headlines will be on the unfortunate injuries to Kolo Toure, Joe Allen, and Aly Cissokho on his debut. Considering Liverpool’s defensive woes at the moment, these are huge losses, just as we were looking like an impressive unit.

First half goals from Sturridge and Sterling and a host of chances made it look like an easy night at the office. However, as we have come to expect as Liverpool fans, the team never makes it easy for themselves, especially in Cup competitions. 2 goals in the 2nd 45 from Nott’ s meant extra time, but Sturridge and Henderson hit the back of the net to make certain that we’ll be in the third round.

Those injuries may be costly throughout the rest of the season so we’ll need a decent defender brought in quickly. Carragher, fancy a game?

A nervy 3 points

2 games, 2 wins, 6 points. 2 goals, 1 in each game. Today’s game had a nervy last 30 minutes with Liverpool making several silly mistakes and handing chances to a Villa team we controlled in the first half. This game them confidence to attack and try to sneak something, and they almost did. The story is almost the same as the last game in most respects – a goal from Sturridge, and late heroics. However, we created few clear chances today.  Once again, we are not killing games off when we are on top. Once again, our defence looks vulnerable and needs improvement. Like I said at the top though, it’s two games, two wins. Keep ’em coming.

The Dictator Hates – Play-offs.

Skeep! I warned you I would return, and returned I am! Pareep! Since arriving on this gruesome, yet promising planet, I have been observing your customs, your rituals, your ways, and have discovered a great many thinks I dislike – bruggghg. I have come to the conclusion that the human race is one sweating, wriggling mass which needs to be corrected – thankfully for you, my infinite wisdom is here to help remove the things which make you such a killable bunch.

I have spent countless (9456) earth hours watching the past-time called football. It is a highly popular sport in most of your wiser nations, watched and played by all ages and/or sexes. Some of the more popular players earn a lot of currency and spray gargantuan amounts of sex juice into the atmosphere. It is my wish to create my own team of super players when I De-throne De-throne and eat your leaders. However, I have noticed some alarming flaws in this sport which will be stamped out under my reign, and the most treacherous of these, prrfft, is the play off. For those of you who don’t know what this is, I will explain. Now.

Most countries have a number of football leagues containing a number of teams. The top league contains the best teams, and every team in every lower league is trying to reach the top. Compwakari? Towards the end of a season, a number of teams at the top of a league begin to fight for play off positions, as the winner of the play offs will earn promotion to the next highest league the following season. Skeepdapdeedapdoh. So, the team who finishes first in the league rightfully earns automatic promotion. The next four teams face each other in a mini knockout tournament known as the playoffs. This is Where I get engarggled! A typical football season lasts 10 months, with teams playing around 30-40 games. The team who finishes first may earn 88 points. The team who do finishes second may earn 87 points. 3rd gets 70, 4th 68, and 5th 61. 2nd May have beaten 3rd, 4th, and 5th twice in the season, as well as finishing with a much higher points total, yet they are to forced to suffer the indignity of the play-off where 1 bad game or unlucky defeat could render the previous 10 months worthless.  What is the point in even having the league, why not pick four teams at random, murder them all, and then select another team for promotion? That would be just as fair. Exactly so.

I wonder how many times the top finishing team put into a play off has actually won and been promoted? I bet there are stats on this, but I can’t be prrfft to check, and it would only engarggle me further. END THE PLAY-OFFS REGIME! SKEEP! Prove me wrong. I dare you.