Terrace Talk: Ticker takes beating but at least the lucky ‘neutrals’ are thrilled

Got any beta blockers? My season’s supply ran out and it’s only February.

Not sure I can take much more of this. I’ve never believed in the idea of ‘The Neutral’, that shadowy fan of ‘sports’ and figment of TV producers’ imaginations, but if such creatures exist they’ve had more than their money’s worth out of Liverpool by now.

It had already been a frenetic week for everybody else. Under pressure of European failure and criticism over verbal diarrhoea Pellegrini, Wenger and Mourinho weren’t in the best of moods. So Rodgers was the quiet one all along? Who knew?

It’s hard to suppress hilarity when domestic rivals fail in the Champions League. It makes our task of picking up where we left off a lot easier if there’s little progress during our absence. Lots of arrogant head-shaking goes on, like your dad when you tried to play some complex toy. “No, no, you’re doing it all wrong. Give it here…”

We’ve still a way to go before we can take our overdue turn, though. That fourth spot’s been ours for some time. Marooned between an outside shot at the title and fending off piranhas nibbling our toes, it makes games like Swansea seem hardly worth the effort.

Such dangerous thinking can produce damp squibs like Villa (h) and West Brom (a), with Fulham almost added to that ignominious list.

Oh, to be an Evertonian, reading their manager’s eulogy to romanticism and pouring scorn upon all that grubby success stuff. Maybe he was mind-gaming with The Spesh, which seemed foolhardy, although the visitors certainly deserved something from that game. However, the late winner was an entirely unsurprising return to normality.

We never received favours from the Etihad or Emirates either. I’d forgotten what a strange way of spending your Saturdays it is to want teams that have barely whispered all season to roar just once, for one day.

Jesus, even United won. Cold, chilly fingers emerged to throttle us in their frosty grip of hubris. All that Euro-mockery, all that hand-rubbing over the exertions of our Sunday opponents and fifth-placed Tottenham. Where was this all heading? We couldn’t, could we? We could, and did — twice. There was an effortless sway into a 2-0 lead, amid undercurrents of unease. No not the defence, they’re always nerve-wracking, but Swansea didn’t deserve that and kept coming, having not read the Anfield ‘game over’ script. Shelvey was given acres of room; since we already knew he could switch from train-wreck to Superman in a single bound what followed was inevitable.

Not a fan of these “do excuse me” non-celebrations on old hunting grounds (or haunting grounds, given Jonjo’s Fester-ish features) but the lad’s heart was always in the right place so let’s look the other way this once.

When they equalised, first with a dubious free-kick and then again with a penalty we thought we knew the script by heart. People were already getting irritable with needing three goals to win any game; now it was being ratcheted up to four.

We were also being overrun in midfield and we may never utter the words “thank God for Joe Allen” again, but it was a smart move by Rodgers. It released others to get the winner, without anyone thinking it would be Henderson.

Jordan’s an unlikely hero but it’s one of football’s great sights to see him bellow.

Brendan’s old and new teams produced a gigantic head-burst of a match. Who can honestly say they were surprised? Suarez has started to play like he’s worried he may have to stay after all, but there could be an injury and eventually it never mattered except to those of us with large medical bills.

If we actually became genuine title challengers I might have to sell a kidney.


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