On we plod, towards the inevitable. A recurring dream: the narrow Liverpool victory, the pointless expectation of a City lapse that lasts barely 10 minutes. A nightmare continually fuelled by the three cruellest words in football; you never know…
Newcastle was strangely a more convincing win than Everton, yet they still have to put you through it. Such a creative team just can’t seem to put anyone away early these days, but the games come thick and fast and it’s a wonder they’re still standing, never mind winning.
As with Houllier’s treble bid, you can see Klopp beginning to persevere with key players and hope they can last out a while longer. There’s always been a fear that rotation would do for us eventually, but it hasn’t happened yet. You’ve seen certain names in the side and assumed the manager’s taking the opposition for granted. Gomez, Milner, even Keita. It must have been gratifying to see those players competing for man of the match.
The main doubt over Naby has always been fitness, and I still can’t believe the usual bone-crumble isn’t due soon, but he was brilliant on Saturday. Milner looked ragged against Benfica but towered above everyone else at St James Park. The man’s a force of nature. Of course, his tackle had the usual conspiracists frothing on social media. The worse they get, the funnier too.
I still can’t help being alarmed by the number of chances to settle the nerves we needlessly squandered. That must scream of my usual pessimistic doom-mongery. It’s important to point out that this isn’t based on the reds, certainly not these reds, but football’s caprices and its eternal vow to annihilate us all. The key moments are scars that still seep. Sanchez, Thomas, Pardew, Cantona, Demba Ba, Bale/Karius. Not that many in the scheme of things, but there are other pinpricks that still itch.
Thank God all of our nemesises (nemesisi?) are footballers, and not referees. Imagine how bleak that existence would be. Actually, we don’t have to imagine it. We just have to listen to family, friends, and workmates in our own city. It’s been a week of incessant Blue complaint, with another letter sent – written in blood, perhaps, or one of those newspaper & paste efforts that kidnappers send. This isn’t Point Of View, dickheads. Why oh why oh why oh why…
Discussion is futile with anybody who begins with Anthony Gordon doesn’t dive, or it was a blatant penalty or there is a referee/VAR conspiracy to hand Liverpool every trophy and relegate Everton for a succulent bonus. You don’t argue with the madman on the bus who says he’s Napoleon. “You look good for 450” “How’s Josephine?” “Where’s your funny hat?” – you just go “riiiiight” and move.
No argument back means they believe there isn’t one, and the insanity becomes entrenched. “Stop being a gimp” stopped working a long time ago, if it ever did. Enough about them.
We are on the verge of avenging their failed, lonely Champions League campaign for them, but would they be grateful? Would they fuck. We focussed too much on Emery’s extraordinary European record, but in truth they did little to hurt us. Again, Liverpool could have done more to ease the tension, but I think they get a kick out of torturing us.
We’d have been far happier if the away goals rule still applied, with the home clean sheet fortifying the two we scored. We’ll be straight into it after Newcastle, and the big fear is the possibility of one calamitous, tired night when everything that can go wrong does. These players have been giants - but big enough to circumnavigate exhaustion and fate? We shall see.
Villarreal will come out of their shell at home, they must, and that should suit us down to the ground. Saturday’s finishing is the only thing that makes you pause for thought. No matter what happens for the rest of May, we luxuriate in the knowledge Jurgen is hanging around for a while longer than expected. That’s great, obviously, although a tiny sentimental part of me would have preferred him leaving on his own terms in a blaze of glory.
He still might, of course, and his wish to embed a boot room mindset deep into the core of modern Liverpool has to be welcomed, given what’s happened to United after neither of their titans were replaced properly. There won’t be another season like this one, of that I’m (almost) certain.
It’s incredible how the signing of Diaz completely altered the landscape. It’s like we went from wonderful team/questionable depth to best squad on the planet with just one (admittedly excellent) player. The fervent, realistic hope of more excellent recruits to come can give us all a semblance of calm for our current trophy hunt. Yes, even me. This isn’t an all or nothing season. It’s only the latest chapter.