Last on MOTD: It’s no party for Stevie G

I’VE been running the Gubbometer for two-and-a-half years, man and boy. (Hardest job in the world, it is.) In that time, only two Premier League clubs had not been last on Match of the Day – Liverpool and Manchester United. It’s now down to one.

Is it a coincidence that Liverpool featured last on MOTD in their first Saturday game after being eliminated from the Champions League? Or has Rafa Benitez now decided that the Gubbometer represents his best chance of a trophy this season?

If it’s the latter, Benitez is in for a treble disappointment. Firstly, Liverpool’s drop into the Thursday night festival of unfamiliarity that is the Europa League means that a fair few of their Premier League games will be switched to a Sunday – and MOTD2 appearances don’t count on the Gubbometer. Secondly, there is no Gubbometer trophy, as I couldn’t be bothered to get one made. And thirdly, even if there was, Liverpool would have to go some to catch Blackburn.

Last night’s final match: Blackburn 0 Liverpool 0
Commentator: Guy Mowbray

This was Blackburn’s fourth appearance at the tail end of MOTD this season, taking them joint top of the Gubbometer with Portsmouth. Rovers have made something of a charge in recent weeks – this was the third time they had been on last in four shows.

(They might have made it four out of four had their 2-0 win at Bolton a fortnight ago not been on a Sunday.)

Yesterday’s game at Ewood Park was notable for two reasons: It marked Sam Allardyce’s return to the Blackburn manager’s role after missing four games while he underwent a minor heart operation. And it was Steven Gerrard’s 500th game for Liverpool.

Allardyce couldn’t really have asked for a more stress-free afternoon. Yes, David Ngog hit the bar from five yards for Liverpool in the second half, and Blackburn striker Nikola Kalinic panicked and fluffed his shot when put clean through as Pepe Reina dashed out to close him down, but this was a tepid encounter.

Indeed, compared to the thrills and spills of Blackburn’s dramatic Carling Cup victory over Chelsea in midweek, it was positively sleep-inducing.

“I was anxious today, being a lot more aware of twinges and little niggles that might happen,” Allardyce said afterwards. “But my doctor assured me that was nothing to worry about, and I’m glad to say it wasn’t.”

Allardyce certainly has more reason to be happy than Benitez. I’ve not heard of a single Liverpool fan who actually wants to go Wednesday’s Champions League dead rubber against Fiorentina. (I know several who have tickets, but they’ll be there under sufferance.)

It is possibly the least significant Champions League game involving an English club since, well, Blackburn’s last game in the competition, a meaningless 4-1 group stage win over Rosenberg in December 1995.

Rovers striker Mike Newell scored the fastest hat-trick in Champions League history that night. But records don’t mean an awful lot if you don’t win trophies. As Gerrard reflects on his fantastic appearance record for Liverpool, he could be forgiven for wondering if he should have a few more medals in the cabinet by now.

Gubbometer

1=. Blackburn: 4 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
1=. Portsmouth: 4 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
3. Everton: 3 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
4. Stoke: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
5. Wigan: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
6. Gubba: 2 (GD: 2. 2L: 2.)
7. West Ham: 2 (GD: 1. 2L: 1.)
8. Hull: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
9. Wolves: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 3.)
10. Aston Villa: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
11. Bolton: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
12=. Birmingham: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 3.)
12=. Fulham: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 3.)
14. Burnley: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
15. Liverpool: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
16. Sunderland: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
17=. Arsenal: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
17=. Chelsea: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
17=. Tottenham: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
20=. Manchester City: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
20=. Manchester United: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)

GD = Gubba difference
2L = On second last (Last night’s penultimate match was: Wolves 2 Bolton 1.)

(NB. Teams will receive one point for every time they appear last on MOTD. Appearances on MOTD2 are not included. Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference – the number of times a team is on last with Tony Gubba commentating. Teams still level will then be separated by the number of times they appear second last on MOTD.)

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