It’s all about Europe now.
Liverpool as a city often exhibits the sort of stubborn contrariness that draws admiration and admonishment in equal measure. When the UK turned right towards Thatcher, that’s when we elected the most left-wing council ever.
Now the country’s tilting dangerously towards isolationism and turning its nose up at the EU, that’s when Liverpool FC clings on to Europa like a lifebelt. As far as our season is concerned that’s exactly what it’s become.
This is the competition that’s kept us afloat for months. Struggles in the league are but a vague distraction. The three teams still fighting to stay in the Premier League all got a point at Anfield and Swansea last week was utterly wretched — but Man United, Dortmund and Villarreal of an evening? No problemo.
A second-string saunter in 80-degree heat against Watford needn’t distract us any further.
The Leicester City story has everyone agog about the limitless scope of football logic, or rather its lack of it, yet the Reds aren’t exactly following the script themselves. Once the Spaniards were sent packing with a hundred Armada headlines and a thousand sunk sub jokes, the remaining league games became irrelevant. The bigger arguments will be over who’s rested and when.
Chelsea on Wednesday might be as feisty as usual so ideally we’d pick Skrtel to deflect Costa from harming anyone more important, by which I mean everyone else in the squad. Maybe there’ll be a league punishment for the reserve 11 we’re bound to put out at West Brom but I’m I doubt Klopp’s bothered.
He was telling thousands of fans to go to Switzerland without tickets – but clearly he’d been warned to back down. Like that’s gonna stop anyone anyway...
Defeat in the Villarreal first leg looked very awkward indeed but five minutes into Thursday’s game most legitimate concerns had been put to bed. Not that this Liverpool team can’t ever threaten to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, especially with an emptyhead like Moreno in it.
Fortunately everybody else managed to get somewhere near their peak.
The other manager put on a brave face about Anfield’s reputation not bothering them one little bit but his players’ performance and behaviour completely belied that statement.
He didn’t take defeat well, indeed criticising Klopp for over-enthusiastic celebrations. That must have been his twin brother legging it round the pitch like a loon after the first-leg goal, then.
Further complaints about the margins of the rules and the referee’s indulgences also conveniently ignored that snarling ball of inadequacy Roberto Soldado. Mate, if you can play like Luis Suarez or Diego Costa you’re entitled to a little edge in your game.
You can’t and thus aren’t.
It wasn’t all joy and celebration. It was obviously important to mark the Hillsborough verdict in some way but what transpired smacked a little of the club hijacking it for PR purposes with sugar like “the greatest football family” (you can almost see it on a t-shirt) which wasn’t appreciated by some on the night.
And we can do without the Gospel, too. You’re not in Kansas any more, Toto. Just let the fans get on with the atmospherics. We’ll be fine, honestly. Some think “the working man’s theatre” has to be scripted and directed.
Emre Can’s return gave everyone a big lift and he ended up man of the match.
The media wants to make Sturridge the story all the time but there are other decent players in this team if you care to look.
It would be nice to finish higher than eighth in the league but it needn’t distract us overmuch from the task in hand. Sevilla look tasty, they haven’t been to so many finals merely by benefiting from the greedy disinterest of others, but I’ve been doom-mongering ever since drawing United and now look where we are.
If it ain’t broke, dot dot dot.
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