Terrace Talk: Maybe we’re just not cut out to be frontrunners

Rollercoasters are overrated. Up, down, then up again. Never saw the fascination myself — maybe it’s because I get all that from my team and don’t really need any more discombobulation.

Terrace Talk: Maybe we’re just not cut out to be frontrunners

Rollercoasters are overrated. Up, down, then up again. Never saw the fascination myself — maybe it’s because I get all that from my team and don’t really need any more discombobulation.

Since it was already starting to feel like Liverpool were freezing in the headlights, the win over Watford felt like vindication for how a Klopp team ought to play.

Exaggeration certainly kicked in during the week. True, the aggregate score against them at Anfield is 18-1 in the last four games, but nevertheless it was a reminder of how we got where we are.

Was it all too late? Perhaps. Knowing it’s the draws which kill you, we’re forced to reflect upon other nights, of timidity and caution.

Face facts — we were spooked at Old Trafford. Afterwards, the sunshine rationale kicked in; strong opponent, hoodoo ground, good point — but there’s more to it.

United needed to change tack halfway through, and Klopp simply didn’t have an answer. Troubling, to say the least. It wasn’t much better at Goodison, was it?

Taking the personal criticism as insult, he sprang a surprise on Watford by playing Mané central rather than Salah. It worked, with Milner’s early charge at Ben Foster reviving memories of Gegenpresses past.

Set the tone, score the goal, never let the tempo slip. The mantra that’s stood Klopp in good stead since he arrived. I love watching this team when it plays like that, who wouldn’t? Coming first in May certainly matters, but be-all and end-all? I’m not so sure.

What you’re seeing at United is similar; there’s a way your club ought to go about things. You know they can’t win every match, but will go down fighting at least.

City alter perspectives, clearly. Back in 1988, when we were similarly blessed with this many spring points, we were 17 ahead of United in second place and had two games in hand. The landscape’s radically altered, not for the better.

There was no expectation of a favour from Bournemouth. They could’ve had a shot, I suppose, being pernickety, but what City can inflict affects everyone. Newcastle stayed defensive and fluked two goals from nowhere. Doesn’t seem much of a template, does it? Everton had done a Bournemouth, kept things respectable and pretended they’d tried. All the build-up for their match last month centred on whether our lovely neighbours could even be bothered or not.

It was all one big joke. I’ll admit I’ve lost my sense of humour on that score.

The Blues never held back yesterday, mindful of a fruitless eight years of derby disappointment and the repugnant thought of all our 29-year pent-up title frustration being unloaded primarily over them in an orgiastic splatter. That might still happen of course, though it feels like it’s slipping from our grasp. There’s definitely some problem with Salah. It’s OK turning Watford’s full-back into a puddle of mush, the kind of thing we perhaps expected of him before he arrived, but that was long ago and seems like thin gruel now. He badly needs a goal.

The crossing reverted to shoddy, Watford being a mere blip. Another clean sheet shows where Liverpool have made their improvements, but this isn’t a good time to start losing your nerve at the other end.

The substitutions were again poor and ineffectual. Lallana? Really? Has Shaqiri pissed in your fishpond or something? It was too little too late by then, in any case.

Everton haven’t beaten us for almost a decade, but it felt like we were taking it for granted and the awful thing (so long postponed) couldn’t possibly happen. Like in a horror movie, that’s when you need to be at your most alert, or else. We avoided that at least. Sure enough, yet more muttering about “a good point” emerged only with less bravado this time. Maybe we’re just not cut out to be frontrunners. Not that we’ve much choice in the matter…

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