And we thought Egypt was volatile

2011-02-02 00:00

IT was all rather quiet in the last few hours of the transfer window on Monday, that is until Liverpool got in the news on two mighty fronts.

No transfer makes more ripples than that of a top-class striker, and the ramifications of Fernando Torres heading to the big bucks at the Bridge will come into full display this Sunday.

You see, fate has decreed that Chelsea are visiting Anfield this weekend — and you cannot even begin to imagine what the atmosphere will be like there.

Let’s have a brief history lesson, shall we?

Remember when Clyde Rathbone, that mighty talented SA U21 star, switched allegiance to the convicts that call Down Under home?

Or, even better, how about Kevin Pietersen when he donned the Three Lions and strode out at the Bullring?

Remember the reaction of incensed, “betrayed” fans?

And those two hadn’t even played for the teams they were now facing.

Both were deemed surplus to requirements for the Boks and the Proteas.

Well, what then of the precious “El Nino”, he same superstar who became the “new Ian Rush”, the modern saviour of a club drifting into obscurity?

Remember his first goal at Anfield? Why, he only ghosted past Tail Ben Haim as the Reds went on to defeat Chelsea — and became an instant Kop hero.

So imagine what that same seething Kop will make of seeing a man who said he had found his “spiritual home” at Anfield suddenly rock up wearing Roman Blue?

I happened to be on Merseyside when Steven Gerrard almost, almost joined Jose Mourinho’s London revolution.

Trust me people, the red half of Merseyside have a memory that never dilutes fact with fiction — save for believing in Rafa Benitez’s delusions, of course.

They were ready to burn Gerrard’s car, house — heck, his family if they had a chance!

It’s a matter of principle for them. Gerrard’s decision to stay ensured that he would be idolised forever — and saved him a packet in insurance and security premiums.

What Torres has done is slap them in the face, suggesting that he will be better off playing for a club whose history — according to Liverpool fans, of course — is shorter than a Gerrard career highlights video.

Chelsea against Liverpool has never needed any hype anyway. Ever since Mourinho — who else — took over at the Bridge, the atmosphere between both sides has been something approaching that between Israel and Palestine, Gerald Majola and the unfortunately named Mtutuzeli Nyoka, or, if we must, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

The arrival of the promising Andy Carroll and the controversial Luis Saurez (who is a more than “handy’’ reserve keeper, too) has been largely overshadowed by the Torres fallout.

He had promised that he would never play for another club in England out of respect for the mighty Liverpool. Well, that promise lasted just about as long as a Msunduzi municipality rescue plan.

Of course, he will feel that he is justified in chasing success with the flashy Londoners instead of waiting for the latest “Rafalution” at Anfield.

For Chelsea, he provides a compelling new conundrum. Can he and Didier Drogba form a destructive duo upfront? Will he spark a revival that could end with the European glory they crave so desperately?

Time will tell, but first he has to survive the searing cauldron that will be Anfield this Sunday evening.

No stadium in England boils quite as brutally as an Anfield crowd that has something to get off their chests.

For at least a few hours, it will be just about the most hostile environment on earth — at least if you are making your debut for the visitors.

And there we were thinking Egypt was volatile.

Torres knows the Kop anthem well, but having decided to walk alone, he will know by Sunday that, in Merseyside at least, he can never walk again.

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