Terrace Talk: Liverpool - Will Catalan gold ultimately pay for Virgil van Dijk?

Happy new year. If that lasts past 5pm today, I’ll be amazed.

Happy new year. If that lasts past 5pm today, I’ll be amazed.

Since the last column, we’ve been two up at Arsenal then 3-2 down five minutes later. That does something to your vernacular. Are drunken sailors still notorious for swearing? Anyway, that basically.

It was like the Sevilla 3-3; a result you’d have taken beforehand — just not in that manner.

Then Swansea were thrashed but you start fretting about this being a fair-weather team, one that needs compliant victims who can’t hit back. Not that I mind a bit of bullying, it makes a change from people walking all over us.

We needed an awkward match that starts wrong, features a juicy dollop of niggle and requires bundles of character to get through. Enter Leicester.

That was a big win, the manner of it and not buckling when you have to hang on to the lead rather than taking turns to humiliate a team that’s long since given up.

We were losing almost from the start and had to deal with one of those “you can’t intimidate me” referees who end up orgiastically feasting upon home fans’ ire.

He showed his watch to Kasper Schmeichel so often I thought he was selling it — then added a minute to the first half… What else can you expect from the devil’s spawn? Salah was missing chance after chance. Mane finally scored but was offside.

It was the sort of game that too often slips away from Liverpool under Klopp. One swallow and all that, but it felt much better than the Swansea thrashing to get past pantomime baddies like Leicester.

What more can be said about Salah? He does miss a lot but it never affects him. I wonder if Klopp players just think they’ll get more chances and don’t sweat it when they miss. Should that be a good thing?

They’re not clinical in tighter games, so maybe it’s not. If you start equalling records of Roger Hunt’s, you’re probably doing something right, whatever an old misery like me thinks.

The crowd got angry, and about time too. There’s been too much complacency on the Kop; almost too cool, it seems, for the biased froth of yore.

It wasn’t just Salah’s equaliser but Harry Maguire (another English centre-half who’s been told he’s Bobby Moore Reborn far too quickly) grabbing onto the ball and not letting go. Seriously, what is the point of all that? He inadvertently lit a fire under fans that sometimes need their pulses checked. It was a sign of old times, a good sign.

At 2-1, Emre Can thumped a supposed gentlemanly bounce ball well down the line, aping a snide Leicester trick from earlier. Everyone lapped it up. Liverpool are too nice most of the time, and if it wasn’t a return to Suarez’s borderline evil, it was welcome nevertheless.

So that’s 15 matches unbeaten, fourth place, Champions League progress and a world record bid for a defender which got up all the right noses.

People berate Klopp for ignoring defence, then again for doing something about it. Call me paranoid but it takes something like this to realise outsiders prefer a weak, downtrodden Liverpool.

That may still happen of course. It’s far likelier Catalan gold will pay for van Dijk rather than the Yanks suddenly checking the word “benefactor” in the dictionary.

City are miles ahead of everyone. That’s keeping it real for everybody except Mourinho, who’s having his meltdown ahead of schedule. For a short while we could have lapped all that up and hopefully improved at our own pace.

Van Dijk changes things. He’s got the burden of the fee, the responsibility of sorting out our defence but most importantly he’s the symbol of Klopp’s Liverpool making their move.

This is a good team but we’ve had those before and watched powerlessly as they disintegrated almost before they got going.


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