Northern Irish hardcore troupe Tied to Machines delighted Football Burp with “Balotelli”, a thrashy tribute to the titular AC Milan striker, so we caught up with the band’s bassist Connor Gribbon for a bit of a natter about his beloved Liverpool just before their 2-0 Europa League defeat at Zenit St Petersburg. First, though, check out the Carla EP on which “Balotelli” resides…
How has the “Balotelli” song been received by the football community? Has it been getting played anywhere interesting?
Yeah, I think it’s had a few plays on 5 Live. We’ve also done interviews with talkSPORT and stuff on the subject of Balotelli, and we’ve had a few stadium plays as well so it’s done pretty well.
Is the song actually about Mario Balotelli? Other than the obvious “why is it always me?” refrain, it’s hard to make out the lyrics…
It kind of is, yeah. I think it was me that came up with the Balotelli thing. Our guitarist Ed had written a really amazing riff for the verse and stuff, and we didn’t really have anything to go with it. I’d just watched the Man City v Spurs match where Balotelli scored but had been going mental the whole match, looking like he was going to get sent off the whole time, and I thought, “This music sounds like what I imagine goes on inside Balotelli’s head!”
Were you watching the West Brom game>
I caught the worst part of it, the last 15/20 minutes! I heard Liverpool absolutely dominated them at the start and couldn’t get anywhere, trying to overplay things – then West Brom took it at the end, as usual.
Are you inclined to blame Brendan Rodgers, or is it just one of those things?
I don’t know. I think managers should be given time but I’m not sure he’s the right manager to be giving time to. The style of play isn’t clinical enough. I like how Swansea are playing now under Michael Laudrup – they pass but for a reason, not just along the back four not really going anywhere. I’m not sure that Liverpool are going to progress much playing that style because teams are used to it by now.
Would you like to see Laudrup as Liverpool manager, then?
Yeah. I mean, it’s probably just another ‘flavour of the month’ thing, but I think he’s been absolutely brilliant as Swansea manager, and he was pretty good in Spain as well with teams with really small budgets. Apparently he’s never been beaten by Barcelona, which is a pretty amazing statistic!
Now Liverpool have gone with Rodgers they should probably give him a bit more time, just to see how it works out, because they’ve sacked too many managers recently. So I’m a bit torn on that one.
Who did you want to see replacing Kenny Dalglish in the summer? Would you have preferred Roberto Martinez as well?
To be honest, I didn’t really want either of them – I was deluded enough to think we could get Jose Mourinho or someone like that! I think Andre Villas-Boas would have worked out well in the long term, because he’s doing a good job at Spurs now. Spurs are probably a bigger club than Liverpool at the moment, but I think Liverpool could have attracted him and offered a similar sort of budget to work with.
Do you subscribe to the view that Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing are finally starting to look like good signings?
I don’t know about ‘good’ signings. I think Michu’s a good signing, considering the value for money Swansea have had out of him. They’ve been playing better, and I think Henderson might come good in the future, but I think Downing’s been a terrible signing – he’s a winger who can’t beat a man, so he’s not worth having, really. David Beckham couldn’t really beat players in a straight sprint or whatever, but he had other things going for him, which Downing doesn’t really.
Which areas of the team would you most like to see strengthened in the summer?
We definitely need to improve our centre-back options – obviously Jamie Carragher’s leaving, and it doesn’t look like the manager trusts Martin Skrtel. I think Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund would be an amazing signing, or even their other centre-back Neven Subotić.
Have you managed to get to Anfield much over the years?
Yeah, I’ve been a few times. I go to Celtic Park as well because I have family there, so I’m kind of split between the two teams to go to.
Would you be able to name the first, best and worst games you’ve ever been to?
The first Liverpool game I ever went to was a friendly over here against Linfield – Robbie Fowler scored a couple of goals, which was pretty cool. The worst match was Liverpool v Celtic in the UEFA Cup – I didn’t want either team to go out so I was completely torn over who I wanted to win. In the end Celtic won 3-1 on aggregate, and they won 2-0 at Anfield in the game I watched – Alan Thompson and John Hartson both scored.
The best match I was at was the one against Manchester United at Old Trafford where Danny Murphy scored a free kick, in 2001 I think. It was an absolute screamer of a goal!
Finally, if you had to select players for a five-a-side match between Liverpool and Celtic, with all the players you’ve seen at each to choose from, who would you pick?
Liverpool: Brad Friedel (more for what he’s done since), Sami Hyypiä, Steven Gerrard, Jari Litmanen and Robbie Fowler.
Celtic: Artur Boruc, Joos Valgaeren, Lubo Moravčík, Neil Lennon and Henrik Larsson.
Connor Gribbon, thank you.
For more information, please visit tiedtomachines1.bandcamp.com