Win an FA Cup derby in the last few minutes, with a goal scored by a defender for whom you paid a world record fee, and go 17 games unbeaten.
How, then, do you infuriate millions of people less than 24 hours later? Easy. Liverpool make head-wrecking an art form. They are the Picassos of pandemonium. It’s really quite something.
Coutinho was going. Most of us knew it, but still clutched any old straw to pretend the club had a plan. We’re special that way.
The fee is ludicrous.
Even the player never thought it possible, since there was no trigger fee in his contract, like when Luis Suarez plotted his escape.
Only problem now is that everyone knows you’ve got that money. Let’s schlepp through the endless charade of showing interest in a player and his club holding us to ransom. We get hypocritically indignant about being ripped-off, while we ultimately will muddle through the rest of the season without one of our best players.
Yes, “one of”; file it under rationalisation, if you must, but he’s never been pivotal, like Suarez was. There were times, in the opening months of 2017, when we might easily have been better off playing with ten men.
What he can do, what he’s capable of, is still being discussed after five years here. He’s also never won anything. That’d make anyone’s feet itchy.
There have been times when he seemed capable of anything; under the cosh at Old Trafford, in the Europa; the free-kick at the Emirates when Liverpool had previously been abysmal; and what should have been the clinching goal of the 2014 league title race, against City.
Quite comical, how some thought we could stand our ground against Barcelona. Countless titles, always in the latter stages of the Champions League, beautiful city, a chance to play in the same team as two of the greatest footballers who ever lived? Yeah, who could possibly be interested in any of that nonsense. Anfield Uber Alles types get scarily outraged, if you tell them other football clubs exist; ones with greater talent, resources, and, most importantly, real ambition.
None of this is about Coutinho going, but about who the replacement might be. They’re already hiding behind Klopp, by claiming he’ll want his number-one target or nobody.
Then again, we did get van Dijk, eventually, and that was a pretty impressive debut. Someone else in, like Lemar or even Mahrez, would, at least, make a statement that Liverpool don’t intend drifting through the rest of what’s actually a promising season.
But if anyone’s still counting, that makes Klopp’s net spend £40m since he’s been here. They buy nobody, shrug their shoulders, and claim ‘we tried, didn’t we?’ Then, things might turn ugly.
January’s a tough month to do business, don’t you know? Barcelona never got that memo, obviously. Players are coming to Anfield, knowing there’s a not-so-secret tunnel out, if something better comes along. Get used to the idea of being a stepping stone.
If you haven’t worked that out after Alonso, Mascherano, Torres, Suarez, and Sterling. If you still don’t get it, when the little magician does his disappearing act, there’s not much hope for you. Be prepared for a long line of magic bean salesmen knocking at your door.
None of which means we’re completely beyond hope, but even Klopp’s going to wise up eventually. Watch a miracle like Salah’s first few months, and instinctively calculate the length of time it’ll take for him to be lured away. That time’s getting shorter season by season, until one day they’ll just bypass us altogether. What would be the point?
City walking away with the title doesn’t mean the season’s over, far from it, but the owners still want to sell this idea of the next summer being THE one where it all changes. It’s an experiment in gullibility, and a highly lucrative one.
There’s also the hardly trifling matter of what Firmino said to Holgate. It’s all speculation, at the moment. Snarky moments with Everton are ten a penny, so it’s tempting to go along a well-worn ‘misunderstanding’ route.
They don’t have United’s clout, nor would it be easy to fit Roberto (the man with the luminescent grin) for a pointy white hood, unlike pantomime villain, Suarez.
There are plenty of silver linings at Anfield right now, but, as always with this club, there’s clouds looming, too.
Would’ve been nice to get through the first week of a new year unscathed, but you can’t have everything, can you? We can’t, anyway.
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