By David Segar
“Just when they think they have all the answers, I change the questions.” – Rowdy Roddy Piper
YOU’LL probably have to go a long way to find a football article that begins by quoting a professional wrestler, but here it is.
There are similarities to be made between the Premier League and pro wrestling. There’s the colourful outfits, the vociferous fans, the heroes, such as ‘The Cerebral Assassin’ Brendan Rodgers, and the villains such as ‘The Mouth of the South’ Jose Mourinho.
Rodgers has been ‘cutting promos’ all season, and after yesterday’s display, he would have been well within his rights to come out and quote Mr Piper. However, instead, he said this:
“We’ve been put under pressure in a very big game against a big opponent but you can see from our football that we are coping. My message to the players is to continue. We don’t need to change.”
That was curious to me, and possibly genius. I’m now starting to come to easy conclusions that, if in doubt, what Brendan says is correct.
Liverpool’s win over Manchester City was of course big for numerous reasons, and for me, was the biggest indication yet that there’s more to this squad of maniacs than meets the eye. He said we don’t need to change, but we did, and we do, and we will again, because apparently, we can.
We have had our challenges during this run of ten wins on the spin. Fulham away, Sunderland at home, West Ham away, and we came through all of them. However, this was the first time that a big team had turned up and actually given us a game. We slaughtered Everton, Arsenal, United and Tottenham, scoring 16 and conceding once in those four games. After 25 minutes yesterday it looked like being more of the same.
City came back at us, pulled level fairly quickly, and looked for all the world that they were going to end the little team that could with 45 minutes of power and David Silva being David Silva. No-one had done this to us, not at Anfield anyway, and no-one of any quality. The ‘lesser’ teams had put in spirited performances, but we had more quality than them and came through those tests, but for the first time, a team with arguably more quality than us were matching our fight, our drive and our determination.
For weeks now, people have asked “How do you stop this Liverpool side?” City thought they had the answers, so Liverpool changed the questions.
Big Phil Coutinho of all people, struck an improbable beauty to seal the points. While playing brilliantly, he’d been shanking much easier efforts wide all game, but nothing makes sense any more. Any coach in world football will tell you that if the ball is behind you, don’t try and shoot. You can’t get over the ball, you can’t get any power behind it, and you certainly won’t beat the England goalkeeper. Coutinho, and this team in general, spit on logic and wipe their backsides with it.
“You can’t go from 7th to 1st in one season.” Can’t you? Watch us.
“You can’t win the league anymore without spending hundreds of millions of pounds.” Can’t you? Watch us.
“You certainly can’t win 14 games in a row.” Can’t you…
With no Jordan Henderson and possibly no Daniel Sturridge, Rodgers is going to be forced into alterations for Norwich, and perhaps Chelsea, but not one bead of sweat is dripping from my forehead at the prospect. Rodgers does what he does, and it works. That’s the situation as I understand it now.
Steven Gerrard wants this Premier League title more than anyone has ever wanted anything. He managed to go several games without a booking to ensure that he wouldn’t miss a second of this run in, and he even did it without compromising on the quality of his performances. His tears and his war cry after the game were of a man who had given his all for 96 minutes, in the honour of 96 souls. He knows it’s on.
Raheem Sterling has convinced me that not only is he cut out to be a star of Liverpool’s present and future, but that his future may, in a few years, include a shiny golden ball that currently resides on the mantelpiece of a Mr. C Ronaldo. He was unbelievable yesterday, in everything he did, and I think I might love him. He knows it’s on.
Martin Skrtel, maligned by many (including me), has been an ever present force at the back, and in recent games especially, has not only been performing at the top end of the Skrtel spectrum, and it is a massive spectrum, but he has been bringing goals to the table as well. He wants this as badly as anyone, so much so that he’s resorted to doing Simon Mignolet’s job for him and rising above attackers to punch the ball clear. Let’s not get caught up in however illegal that might be. He knows it’s on.
Luis Suarez had somewhat of an off day, frustrated by the solidity of Martin Demichelis (yes, you did just read that), but he still played a massive part by using his Dalglish-like backside to dump Gael Clichy on his, before sliding in Sterling for the opener. The King was in the stands and must have felt a special connection with the Uruguayan like never before after seeing such tremendous arse-work. Luis, and Kenny, they know it’s on.
This Liverpool team is together, they know they have their destiny in their own hands (especially Skrtel), they know they are on the verge of greatness… they know it’s on.
Four more tests. Four more teams who will face Liverpool with their own gameplan of how to stop them. Manuel Pellegrini thought he’d cracked it. He hadn’t. Neil Adams, Jose Mourinho, Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew, what have you got?
We go to Norwich. It’s on.