Is it any wonder everyone hates us? Everything about Saturday lured our detractors into a false expectation of incoming karma: Mane’s card for diving, VAR screwing us all ends over, a blatant handball penalty not given, and Man City’s comeback from a goal down against Southampton.
Yes, they all sighed lasciviously: “finally…”
Sorry about that.
I apologise for the sneering tone this column has adopted of late. I do know our comeuppance is on the horizon, but everyone will just have to wait a bit longer. Seven days, probably.
The week’s pressing topic was our upcoming workload, when a midweek cup-tie somehow becomes the final straw.
Klopp has a point about players being squeezed dry, but wasn’t helped by a first-choice team (rested a whole week) that produced its worst performance of 2019 at Villa.
The cynical expect any extra rest periods to only result in profitable, prestige friendlies in warmer climes and not fitness sabbaticals for players. It’d certainly lead to relentless, pressing intensity and presumably wipe out any perceived advantage.
Past Liverpool teams, without the huge squad back-up of today, regularly played 50-plus-game seasons. Whether the sport getting even faster would improve its quality is highly doubtful.
The 5-5 Carabao Cup tie with Arsenal this week drew instant comparison between past and present. 31 years ago, I schlepped down to Birmingham for a second replay on neutral soil. Arsenal picked their first-choice team, one that would eventually win the title.
Despite numerous injuries, Liverpool still selected the best team they could. You don’t even have to go back that far. In 2000, Gerard Houllier chose a strong team to batter Stoke 8-0.
In the present, it’s nothing but the youth cup, with a few ringers. The circus football and abacus score-line couldn’t quite camouflage that. Klopp grinned throughout, like he didn’t really care one way or another, speaking dismissively of “great memories for the kids.” He soon began hinting at withdrawing from the Carabao Cup altogether, and, frankly, who’d be bothered?
Whether they should even be going to Qatar in the first place is the thornier issue, but morals and football went their separate ways long ago.
He left Fabinho out at Villa, so he wouldn’t pick up another card and miss City. That almost blew up in our faces.
For the third league game in a row, we gave up the first goal. Nice to know you’ve got the cajones to come back, but it would be nicer still not to have to keep proving it every week. Some of us already have high blood pressure, y’know.
Liverpool have had tougher games than City up to now, so that six-point lead ought to show we’re favourites. Form, and City’s two-year hegemony, are leading people to predict an entirely different outcome.
VAR continues to be a messy joke. Nobody’s giving up their foolish belief that certain referees are out to get their team any time soon.
Naming the video ref in advance (Atkinson) just confirms your worst nightmare, as if having Jon Moss on the pitch wasn’t bad enough.
Personally, I’d rather not act like an Evertonian whenever my team happens to be losing, but each to their own. Easy to say that after you’ve just won, I suppose.
It would be sweet relief if everyone could bring this weekly tumult of screech to a halt, but my hopes aren’t high.
The late goals changed despair to euphoria. Villa were tiring badly, so the wholesale changes in midweek worked after all.
After Firmino’s ‘goal’, we’ve also learned there’s such a thing as an offside armpit. It’s not likely at this late stage of life, but if I’m ever rich enough to own a racehorse, that’s what I’m calling it.
But evil diver Sadio got the last-minute winner anyway. We’re just the worst, aren’t we?