TERRACE TALK: Liverpool - Defending is pretty important too

Here’s the opening quote for the entire season’s columns. Cut out to keep and tape in every week. Ready?

Football teams must defend.

If we’re back on the rollercoaster Rodgers designed and Suarez built (then dismantled) at least give us some notice to stock up the medicine cabinet.

Dampening the ardour of fans so early on, especially after winning at such a jinxed ground, might seem callous. A bit like dressing up as Santa on Christmas Day, then whipping off the beard in front of the kids and saying “do you realise how much all this costs, you ungrateful sods?”

If Liverpool fans ever get a chance to believe, surely it’s in August? Much as I hate pouring water on a drowning fan-base, a little perspective helps keep everyone sane during a long, fraught season.

In a league where the difficult is getting impossible, improvement will suffice. This is an excellent start.

No European football should help, yet Klopp’s Liverpool might be as erratic as Rodgers’ teams, worse if anything. The Europa final saw them squeeze a whole season’s worth of heightened hopes and dismal disappointments into 90 schizophrenic minutes.

The agent saboteur that night, Moreno, is still around. Still the proverbial accident lurking in the shadows. He was diabolical again here.

Last season’s cup runs, replays, and extra time racked up the work-rate on a squad often on its knees before Herr Gegenpress arrived with his deceptively jovial cruelty.

That might ease somewhat but after the preseason there’s been no let-up with injuries. After a while you begin to suspect something’s wrong and it isn’t just Lady Luck giving you the brush.

It’s another tricky start to contend with, for one. Vague hopes of a title challenge arise when you win game one. Remember how Rafa in 2008 and Brendan in 2013 both flew out of the traps?

Arsenal away, day one? Yeah, thanks for that. In a way they’re in the same boat, travelling luxury class maybe but the same boat nevertheless. That second place in May fooled nobody.

We’ve got some good players up front and the goals were outstanding, but defending is quite important too y’know. Picking between Moreno and Milner as your left back encourages the accusations you’re not taking this terribly seriously.

The final whistle came with joyous relief but football teams that win trophies sow those games up once Mane’s magnificent fourth triggered ecstatic scenes.

But no, we’re Liverpool and that means you’ve not suffered enough. They just about managed to seal victory with a three-goal lead this time after last season’s shenanigans. Has it really come to this?

Of course it’s Arsenal. As bad as they were at the back there’s still a threat almost everywhere you look. That can’t be allowed to deflect from what’ll happen when the talent in our team takes a day off, as it often does.

So there was one glass half full and one half empty. Drink from whichever one you fancy. I habitually expect calamity, especially there, but thankfully it was accompanied by sheer genius this time.

Long term? We never really count Hapless Hodgson or Caretaker Kenny. That means Klopp follows four managers who challenged for the title. He’d be an odd candidate for first proper failure to do so, but if he’s not being backed properly then what can he do? Buy him a bloody left back!

The season’s earliest impressions are that it’s going to be erratic.

This day ended well, thanks largely to Coutinho, but it mightn’t have. Hoping all the big teams will be knackered by Christmas sounds a bit desperate.

Even for Liverpool.


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