Football teams must defend.
We’ve said this for about five years now, like a New Year’s resolution that’s annually broken within days.
It must smack of staggering ingratitude but if my team is winning 5-0 or 7-3 on aggregate, I really shouldn’t have to pray to a higher power to end the game as soon as possible.
But that’s Liverpool 2018. An entire season wrestling with a not unreasonable wish for efficiency before realising it’s a wistful pipedream.
Klopp’s desire to turn every football tenet upside down is admirable in the way people who hop to Antarctica for charity are admired (but still measured for a straitjacket).
He’s made it clear Liverpool will not be his final job. I suspect alchemy or a search for Atlantis is on the shortlist.
Winning our sixth European Cup wouldn’t be far off in the miracle stakes so criticism does seem churlish and petty.
Ahead of schedule, Liverpool supporters have reached the phase where we look for what’s not there rather than what is.
Goals, goals, goals; yes, all very nice and everything — but a bit of organised pragmatism wouldn’t go amiss.
The recurrent theme is dissatisfaction; Evans too attacking for his own good, Houllier (and Rafa to an extent) too boring, Rodgers and Klopp … you get the gist.
During all these infuriating collapses you get pretty paranoid; how TV runs the sport and how Liverpool must be broadcasters’ first choice now because anything, literally anything, can happen. Mo’ panic, mo’ money.
Everyone got back from Rome safely in one piece, anyway. Not really the sort of thing you ought to be grateful for in this day and age but after what happened to Sean Cox at Anfield, it was on everyone’s mind.
If they’d hated Liverpool before, what the hell’s going to happen next time after we’ve wrecked their European dream yet again? There’d have to be concerns, surely?
Lots of sympathy and of course the obligatory team t-shirt with Sean’s name on it, but the Italian papers went overboard on “a thousand Liverpool ultras” heading to Rome. Contrition only seemed to be of the surface variant.
Back home, our media wasn’t much better and when Arsenal inevitably bowed out of Europe, the TV commentator’s desultory tone summed up a nation: “England will just have to make do with Liverpool.”
Yeah, you know where you can stick that. Time for us to be part of Ireland. You start pulling, we’ll start pushing. Nice waterfront, lots of European Cups and the pubs and chippies aren’t bad. Obsessed with the Beatles like, but you can patronise us during those bits.
Domestic football seemed quaint after Europe’s lustre but it was Chelsea and a fourth place still to clinch after all. Fat chance of that.
There may have been some vague notion of exploiting the point and goal difference gaps, then just wait for Brighton next week.
Hands up everyone who knew Stoke would take a point from Anfield and self-destruct the very next game? That many, huh?
The Bridge result was hardly the shock of the weekend. Sort of disciplined and decent for half an hour, then splat — and that’s that.
We’ll need two weeks’ break before Kiev on this evidence. Salah didn’t celebrate his goal against Chelsea at Anfield, then seemed surprised at the reaction to him this time. Almost as if the fans of a club you vaguely passed through years ago don’t actually regard you as their mate.
It’s going to the wire. We may need help from Huddersfield, since they can get a clean sheet (unlike some), or maybe some old times’ sakery from Rafa when Chelsea visit Newcastle next week.
Spurs might even shoot at their own feet again. We’re relying on everyone except ourselves basically, because that seems a bit far-fetched.
So the TV paymasters will get their Super Dooper Sunday drama after all. Who could have predicted that?
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved