Terrace Talk: Liverpool - Unwelcome rare failure made win unnaturally vital

I can’t be the only quivering wreck around here, writes Steven Kelly.

Terrace Talk: Liverpool - Unwelcome rare failure made win unnaturally vital
Picture:GEOFF CADDICK / AFPvia Getty Images

Belief: “They don’t half make it hard for themselves.”

Fact: “They’ve dropped five points in 29 games and are over 20 ahead of second place.”

No sane person would write both these things in the same paragraph, yet here we are. OK, maybe I’m projecting with “we” a little, but I can’t be the only quivering wreck around here.

The whole place has been on edge for a while, although it’s clearly not been reflected in the results as the Reds ground out yet another home win.

After two unwelcome defeats there was an admirable urge to give the boys a suitable lift to get back on track. The Kop looked fine just before the start, continental almost.

For the actual match, a nervous silence held sway most of the time. Sure, every away end asks if we’re librarians nowadays, but this one had a point. I wouldn’t expect Bournemouth to understand what’s going on here.

There was a sliver of sadness for the FA Cup loss, but countless weakened team selections over the years constructed this path towards inertia. Why worry if they don’t?

The last manager to win a domestic cup got the sack. He reached the FA Cup final too. Didn’t help. Clearly the people who run this place set their sights a lot higher and have a much sharper focus on what ultimately matters to them.

There’s also been some fanciful nods toward all-time greatness recently, including a rather odd TV debate where Roy Keane and Jamie Carragher were asked to pick a combined 11 between United ’99 and Liverpool today.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it would be marvellous television to watch Cork’s finest spontaneously combust live on air, but we’re not anywhere near ‘there’ yet. It isn’t sacrilegious to say that, more the other way around if anything.

The mad stats are clearly messing with people’s heads to some degree.

It took years of normal success (which as we know of late isn’t normal at all) for clubs like old Liverpool and slightly less archaic United to subsequently expect or even demand more than one trophy a year — but it got the squabblers squabbling so job done, I suppose.

Unwelcome rare failure had made a win against Bournemouth unnaturally vital. Klopp has that massive collapse in his last Dortmund season to fall back on whenever he wants people to remain on their guard, despite playing it cool publicly by calling the situation “interesting”.

He could’ve done without the ref and VAR making it more interesting. Everyone thinks Gomez was fouled, but somehow people also still think Liverpool have been handed success on a plate. Just another example of the madness we seem to ignite without effort.

It was also part of another refereeing performance that invoked minnow’s rights. There was niggly stuff going on, but we hardly helped. Old-guard types tutted about Gomez’s fragility on several occasions.

There have been hints of complacency in recent weeks but falling behind to our third relegation opponent in a row proved altogether too much. The players seemed to remember they needed to press and were rewarded with two goals — then slipped straight back into bad habits.

The Milner clearance will be remembered long after most of the goals this season fade into sepia-tinged nostalgia.

We’ve been better at keeping possession when timid opposition refuse to come out, yet that gets boring and players clearly nod off. That’s when you pray we won’t be cruelly punished, Watford hopefully being a freak occurrence where everything went wrong.

You don’t take your own chances, that’ll make you even twitchier. I get the false 9 concept (honest I do) but it doesn’t preclude you from scoring the odd goal, surely?

So, is it merely a mathematical wait now, City’s only influence being on when the magical date will be? They’re the only obstacle, with new Croatian superstar Pandemic their last desperate roll of the dice.

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