Whether it was our diving, the safety of their transport or VAR, they wove a narrative of City suffering all week.
Now guess whose supporters sang “always the victim”? I appreciate the irony, if nothing else. The barefaced gall is gorgeous.
After 15 minutes, they’d locked into that role with unsettling relish. I’m not saying it wouldn’t make an interesting survivalist task; cancel a Liverpool goal at Anfield, run 100 yards to the Kop and give the opponents a penalty, then try to leave the ground in one piece.
All week the talk was of bitter rivals. Is this a widespread Manchester thing now? Carragher wrote a column about “mutual loathing” between City and Liverpool, but I’m just not feeling it I’m afraid.
Now that may spring from a snotty, superior attitude. Even now it’s hard to align them with their success and quality. They were a joke for so long, it’s difficult to change that mindset.
It all feels very pantomime, put on. The two best teams must hate each other, surely, so enmity moulds itself around the obvious plotlines.
From their angle, there’s a hint of desperation and disappointment it’s not United immediately in their slipstream. They surely haven’t bought into the Old Trafford brainwash of their taking a breather while this (undoubtedly hideous) nonsense blows over? So, we get it in the neck for that too.
I refused to join in the general clamour about Mane not being a diver, how dare Guardiola blah blah blah. All managers do this full-bladder potty dance whenever simulation’s mentioned. “Everybody else, but not my boys”. Sadio was on the programme cover, too. No, this isn’t getting petty at all…
I see the exact reaction to incessant criticism Chelsea had in the previous decade when they were the cash-bloated arrivistes. My much-missed Examiner colleague Trizia simply met such taunts full on, no holds barred.
City do the same, even making spurious claims about Liverpool’s old domination being achieved in identical fiscal fashion. It wasn’t, not even close, but straws clutched and any port in a storm.
It’s almost like there’s suppressed guilt underlying the glutinous glee with all that trophy hogging. Given City were a barely modified clown car before all this, I imagine it’s enough to give anyone the bends. At least Chelsea had won things before Abramovich.
Personally, I’d always focus on how legitimate pathways to the summit were closed off by a steadily richer, increasingly manipulative elite that gets stroppy about anybody else gate-crashing ‘their’ club.
Sure, it’s not ideal getting 97 points and coming second but there’s little sense in whining incessantly about the others. Thankfully, this is a view Klopp shares and mostly focuses on how he can fix things – and how.
Oxlade-Chamberlain got another goal in that tense huff ‘n’ puffer against Genk. Since he’d scored against City twice before his injury, there was talk of letting him loose again.
Because of his average all-round play, Klopp stuck with his faithful midfield grinders. Thank God he did. Fabinho’s goal and Henderson’s cross for the killer third surprised many, including the protagonists themselves no doubt.
Cheering goals became a welcome relief from all that booing. Hyperventilation was a serious concern. Guess I’m one of the few who doesn’t detest them, although Sterling did his best to pluck nerves with a ratty, conniving, crying performance.
We’ve rarely seen clinical finishing this season but chose a perfect day for its return, and Mane wiped Guardiola’s eye in the best way possible.
I’ll say again that the continuation of City’s wretched Anfield record is one small proof that money can’t buy you everything. Their fume overload was the cherry on the cake.
By the end Guardiola was utterly demented, and his team’s obvious sense of entitlement only wrapped the cord round their necks tighter still. So okay, they do annoy me a little… Now to conquer our biggest opponent of all; complacency.