IN writing about Swansea City you are also writing about Bordeaux. Which is hugely convenient as there wasn’t a review of Bordeaux.
There wasn’t a review of Bordeaux because pretty suddenly I wasn’t at all well. Aching joints, sweating profusely, dizziness. It transpires I am pretty much allergic to the Europa League.
I hung on through the 90, watching Liverpool huff and puff their way to a 2-1 that probably should have been 4-1, before staggering through the crowds leaving Anfield, nearly get run over in the act of getting a taxi and getting back into town.
I did The Pink, got into bed and found myself in an unbelievably feverish sleep. Unbelievably feverish.
I was having this mad quasi dream where I would be in agony in my shoulders and neck if I stayed in the same position for too long. I’d then shift and the pain would go. But there was a time limit and it would come back. And then shift.
Each of these time limits halved themselves on every shift, sweat pouring off me, turning left, turning right. I had to force myself out of this dream, had to force myself into the real world. I had to wake myself up. I kept trying but the dream and the pain kept coming back.
– Gibbo’s match ratings: Liverpool v Swansea City
I grabbed my phone. I went on the BBC’s website. And I looked at the league table.
I stared at the league table where Liverpool were six points behind Arsenal and Manchester City. Eight points off the top. I looked at everyone’s games coming up. I forced myself into the real world, the real world was one where Liverpool could win the league. The real world was one where if an act of supreme will is enacted then the league is possible. This was the real world I woke into at 3am, the real world that got me out of my agony and got me feeling better.
I think about the league title a lot. Probably more than almost anyone. I’m probably in the top one percent of people who talk about the league nationwide.
I talk to myself about the league title. I know I’ve said this before but it has dropped into my constant running inner monologue. “Let’s have a shower and then we can win the league and then have a bit of breakfast.”
Let’s sort my songs out for The Rider, get the league won and settle down for the evening.”
It’s become this placeholder in all of my thinking, this staging post for getting something that really needs doing before moving on.
I went to Ben Johnson’s house last night and we got into it over the manager picking strong sides for Europa League games when the league could be won.
Ben (and charisma’s Adam Melia) made a series of perfectly valid points that it is an opportunity for him to work with, and on, his players.
Our previous manager said that managing a football team is a lot like building a plane while flying it. This is the case for Jürgen Klopp. More than any manager.
My issue while speaking to Ben is that I want someone to be telling the magnificent son of a gun who is our manager that this could well be the best chance he has to get the plane he is having to build to its ultimate glorious magnificent destination.
This could be the best chance he’ll get if he is Liverpool manager for five years, for all the reasons we’ve covered before, for all the reasons Paul Tomkins has covered in even more detail.
I want the manager to know that. I need the manager to know that. He comes across as such an optimistic, self-assured chap I worry — genuinely worry — he thinks we’ll keep getting better and it will become an irresistable reality over time.
He may well be right to think that way. I think he probably is. But.
There’s a league title going here.
That’s the problem.
There’s a league title going here. There really, really is. Right here. Right now.
And so I can think of little else.
Ben and Adam tell me I need to relax. Tell me I need to enjoy it more. Brockle says, ‘is he talking about the fucking league again?’ and then we drink all the red wine in the world and eat all the cheese and there is lots of love and music.
When the final whistle goes today, and we are six off the pace, I almost pop with a surge of energy. The three points goes right to my head and lodges.
I might have a specific part of my brain which does all the thinking about the league title. The three points goes straight there. Sits there. Throbs. What a weekend of results for the Reds. The Anxious Reds. The Hungry Reds. The We-Might-All-Be-Mad-You-Know Reds.
0 – Neither Liverpool nor Swansea managed a shot on target in the first half of their game. Bluster.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 29, 2015
135 – Liverpool have now been awarded 135 penalties in Premier League history, more than any other team (103 scored). Specialists.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 29, 2015
The final whistle goes and we are six off the pace.
My point with all of this is that I don’t feel like I have a fantastic handle on reality where the league title is concerned. I’m consumed by it.
That’s why, when people say things about getting carried away or when supporters from other football teams end up with my tweets on their timeline and feel the need to be snide, I feel like going, ‘you don’t know the half of it, lads. You want to come and have a go at doing this for a couple of days. See how you get on with this specific part of your brain doing this all day every day’.
The final whistle goes and we are six off the pace and everyone has to come to our place and we’ve been everywhere. We’ve been very good at times this season. We’ve been very bad. We’ve been alright.
Liverpool were alright today in weather conditions which were diabolical. Playing football in high winds is no fun. But Liverpool were alright and suddenly Liverpool look a little like they have options.
Emre Can was mostly excellent in centre midfield. Henderson came on and ran round a lot looking huge. Sturridge came on and ran around less looking interesting. Allen didn’t start and Liverpool won without Coutinho, Lucas and Sakho but with Lovren and Ibe impressing alongside Emre Can.
The final whistle goes and we are six off the pace.
Liverpool’s shape out of possession is good. They get in it very well other than when The Hungry Reds become The Anxious Reds and they have a wobbly 15 minutes but then they come out of the other side.
Liverpool frustrate a little in the final third, as they did against Bordeaux, but they get a bit of luck and they take it, Milner’s penalty certain.
Six off the pace. No one is impressive. No one is scary.
The statement win we all felt we could do with at home hasn’t come. The battling win that was probably always going to precede it has come though.
It is a win on a weekend where so many of the sides around and ahead of us haven’t. It is holding on when we haven’t before. It is winning a home league game, something the magnificent son of a gun a mentioned a few paragraphs above hadn’t done before for us.
Liverpool 1-0 Swansea FT: Shots(OT) 10(2) – 8(0), Possession 53% – 47%, Rating 6.92 – 6.60 https://t.co/zRZhz1MPS9
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) November 29, 2015
I mention that while mentioning winning the league because it doesn’t have to make sense. It won’t make sense when we do it. It won’t be sensible. Remember that. It won’t be sensible.
But I digress. We are meant to be talking about Swansea but Swansea is done. Let’s go dancing about the league title. I digress because I always will. It is everything. Everything else to do with Liverpool Football Club pales into insignificance in comparison. Go to Newcastle. Win. Beat West Brom. Let’s see where we are on Boxing Day. Let’s get handily placed.
Close your eyes to sleep tonight. Six off the pace. Wake up in the morning. Look at the league table. Something could just be coming. Could just be becoming. It’s going to hit like a train. It possibly already has.
Let’s try to relax. Try to enjoy it. Add wine and love and cheese and music.
Six off the pace.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
Like The Anfield Wrap on Facebook
You are not misplaced in your wild thinking, mate.
This league is very average and is deffo there for the taking. By a team with the self belief to have a go.
Deep down, I think Klopp has sussed the situation. He knows but will not allow himself or us to get ahead of ourselves. He sees what his side can do to Chelsea and City on their grounds. Just get the momentum going at home and who knows.
Yes. I like this.
Superb – we can do this, extra signing or two in January and the top sides have got to come to us, not a problem. Got to keep beating the average teams though, oh and a league cup trip to Wembley be nice too starts by beating he Saints on Wednesday. Rest players, nah – just keep winning eh lads
Great stuff, love the optimism Neil, a perfect weekend results wise makes us handily placed and with a run of games coming you expect to at least have a decent points total then it would be rude not to dream! For me this is the biggest win of the season, not because of how we played but getting the 3 points having known what had gone before in the last 24 hours, we’ve bottled in the past but still with a very far from full strength starting 11 we look like a team who knows how to win again.
By the way Neil thanks to the Anfield wrap for the tickets on Thursday night, we had a great time and meeting ex players and the TAW crew was brilliant, hope you and your other half are feeling better now..
It’s fucking on!
A prophetic voice… Let’s believe in this insanity and go and win the league!
Jesus! Another game that during it had me questioning whether football actually makes my life more enjoyable or slightly unbearable. That feeling on the hour mark. The one Jurgen talks of. Deflated, thinking I’ve seen this before and it doesn’t end well. Amidst the gloom there is always that hope though. Then it happens and things get even darker. Not scoring is disappointing but letting a lead slip near the end is worse. It leaves more what if’s. It felt like I had electrodes strapped around my waist and prior to every one of those 20 odd corners they had after our goal I was given a slight shock. Just enough to stupefy me for 10 seconds before breathing again when it was cleared. Awful experience.
This was one of the best wins I can remember though. On Thursday I was telling my mates we may well win this league. If we win our next 4 then we’ll be close to the top on Boxing Day. Why shouldn’t we beat those shit teams to come? Our form is WWWLWWW. The Kazan trip is the reason for the L. Everyone’s picking up injuries. Our crisis is coming to an end. Utd can only score from set pieces. Chelsea are fighting among themselves. Our squad is strong. Logically, we must be favourites when you look at what’s gone and what’s to come.
It’s definitely on Neil, strap in for the rollercoaster :)
Just read an article in the Guardian about creative types in Silicon Valley taking micro amounts of LSD to help get the old juices flowing. Can’t stop myself wondering if Neil’s having a bit of a dabble after reading this one!
Back to the game.
Gerry Byrne (RIP Gerry) would’ve been proud of the tackle that Milner got booked for – perfectly timed taking ball from the side with the man then falling over his foot.
Lana needs to buy boots with studs.
Emer needs to take one less touch.
Loved the “part time supporters” chant near the end.
Really important 3 points. How many points are we off the pace again Neil?
Having missed the game today I clicked on this link expecting to get a “match review” as the title suggests, however all I got was a load of ridiculous spiel about the fact that we can win the league and I also learned that Henderson came on and did some running and that Sturridge came on and didn’t do much running, good to know… This post should have been called Neil Atkinsons fanciful take on Liverpool’s prospects. I’m all for optimism but if you’re gonna label something a match review at least review some part of the match. I don’t want to be the nobhead who just moans about stuff but this was the straw that broke the camels back for me, feels like there is enough of Neil’s spiel throughout the shows without having a full match review dedicated to it. Anyway, I’m off to the BBC website to see what actually happened in the game today.
All the best!
I also said after Citeh, if we win our next 6 games (all so called winnable) then we will win the league.
And if we are to win it then we will win it with the players we have now. Not just that we might not buy in January but moreover that we need above all else Stability. No more new players bedding in such was the preference of Rodgers.
No stability and and continuity and momentum, that is what we need now. And Klopp is perhaps honing in on his starting 11 and pluses.
Let’s go :)
Not sure where you are getting that “bedding in” notion. Sturridge and Coutinho? Lovren and Manquillo? Allen and Borini? Milner and Benteke?
In May 2014, Rodgers goes: “I don’t want to put a figure on how many but I would rather have one or two absolute top players than seven that might not help us.
“It’s about the quality. We can’t be going into the Champions League this year with doubts about players. We have to be going in knowing what the players’ capacity to play is and their capabilities.”
He wasn’t looking to bed in some raw potential. He wanted an elite replacement for Suarez that would walk into the first 11 of any side challenging for the title. Instead, he got Mr. Dynamite, the Least Hardest Working Man in Football, the incomparable “Super” Mario Balotelli. We ALL needed a bedding in process for that one.
I’m with you brother. £25 on Liverpool to win the league the day Klopp took over at 66/1.
Current odds 14/1 and I can cash out apparently and earn £70 profit. They’re offering to pay me £70 profit to not keep my bet. Fuck that. We’re gonna win the league because why the hell not?
Put 2k on us at 5/2 to finish top 4 as soon as we announced Klopp as boss. We were 4/1 after the Everton draw when we were still managed by a charlatan.
Here’s what I wrote at the time about the bet and in response to idiots claiming it would be a “gamble” to replace Rodgers with a vastly superior manager:
well done. I remember you mentioned you were going to place that 2k…
You can safely start spending the ‘winnings’ over Christmas…:)
Yes at a time when the pro Rodgers cabal were calling the radicals disloyal plastic fans too.! Dalglish’s LC win was certainly one more chuckle than Walter’s Poster Boy gave us
I’m glad you got round to reviewing the match eventually, as I was over halfway through it when I’d already decided how this reply was gonna go:
“This is no way a match review, but it is an amazing piece of writing and I am now firmly onboard. Thankyou”.
I am now convinced – even more so now I realise that I am out of the country for the whole of May and will miss the whole, glorious run in. Just my luck!
Don’t you worry. We will wrap up the league title by end April for you.
Neil, another great article. I share the same experience of looking at the league table a thousand times before and after the match.
Btw, Pink Floyd lyrics…”the lunatics are in my head…
…the lunatics are in my hall…” :))
Anyone who isn’t banging on about a league doesn’t get it imho (unless you’re some little kid who can’t remember 2005 or the cup in 2006). Tell them all to swivel, Neil.
I’m expecting us to go into 2016 with 34 points. I’m allowing for possible draws at Watford and against Leicester. Nothing less.
A bit of honesty: Trophies are nice, but unless they are the Champions League, there is nothing even remotely close to the league for me. Winning the Carling Cup with KK was good for a chuckle, but our league form and squeaking by on penalties against a team that finished 6th in the npower Championship league meant it wasn’t a very hearty chuckle.
Even the FA Cup is a bit of a sideshow, and has been for me for quite a few years (for a variety of reasons). Barring the Champions League, it has been the sustained drama of the league runs in 08/09 and 13/14 that have really got me hot and bothered.
A lot of supporters, particularly the more knobbish ones, kept on about Rodgers not winning a trophy. I was a bit sheepish because it didn’t bother me nearly as much, my mind racing back to the 84 points we had picked up only a season ago, mad thoughts of a +51 goal difference despite conceding 50 goals.
Crashing out of the Champions League group stages was a bigger pill to swallow, as it had been with Rafa following 08/09. But unlike many pointed fingers, my two were directed at John Henry tweeting jokes about Reus while Balotelli negated the strengths of our best players.
Back in dreamland, where I belong, I am thinking that Klopp just might have the tools to give us the best of both worlds – a great league run and a shiny new trophy. But I won’t be under any illusions as to which one will mean more.
I’ve never backed the reds to win the league title before, but I stuck €30 on over the summer at 35/1. Out of nowhere, it was just one of those voices-in-your-head moments where it seemed like a good idea.
It’s very much on and the reds are coming up the hill. Believe.
Lots of the teams above us will be raking points off each other around Christmas (city v Arsenal for example) just keep picking up the wins and keep in touch.
Jurgen is right, talk of the title is Crazy. I fucking love crazy.
Make us Dream.
Are the following three equivalent paths directly (no additional games) to the group stages of the Champions League?
1. Top 3 finish in the Premier League
2. Winning the Champions League itself
3. Winning the Europa League?
If so, winning the Europa League trophy is, without a shadow of a doubt a massively more important goal than winning the Capital One or the FA Cup.
On the other hand, winning cups is desirable in itself. Furthermore, it establishes a ‘winning trophies’ pattern.
I’ll start tentatively dreaming that we’ll win ‘the League’. Realistically, I’ll be hoping for top-3 or winning the Europa League, plus at least one of the two domestic cup competitions.
Winning the EL is a better outcome than finishing 4th. 4th is not good for us. 4th gets us a dodgy CL quali game against sides with better coefficients and all that stuff.
But right now, 4th should be seen as the least best outcome for this season. we have it all lined out in front of us – there are better outcomes on the table for us this season. that’s where we are heading.
I like your enthusiasm, but…I did not think we are at that level yet…
We should be destroying teams, like Norwich,Swansea,Southampton, and in that matter Crystal Palace too..not earning ONLY 3 POINTS from AVAILABLE 12 POINTS…
That is our reality, and that is our problem, all those years, mate..
You just CAN NOT do that in the League…If you want to WIN IT…
Well some one’s gotta win it!
The hard games are not the ones against the big teams. The hard games are right here, Swansea is a perfect example. The so-called scrappy games are the ones that make you a champion. It’s them which need to be won consistently.
Ask Bayern. Most opponents will sit as deep as possible and do nothing else. Then even Bayern have problems to create clear cut chances. But it’s not Bayern failing offensively, it’s the opposing side playing their part superbly. This is something I miss here in general, the recogniction of the opponent’s efforts. I don’t know how many dirty wins I have seen from Bayern. Three points, next match please. You cannot expect fireworks in every game.
This said, LFC fans should also reconsider how they rate players’ performances. If Firmino, Lallana and Benteke did not shine as they did against ManCity, then it’s clearly because Swansea made their homework and not because Firmino et al. are “shite/mediocre/whatever” players “prone to failing/unreliable/inconsistent” etc.
Stop bashing, grow patience.
Swans, no doubt, came with a good defensive plan. Klopp mentioned that in post match interview as well.
but, on the other hand, Firmino and Benteke not being able to control simple balls, or missing simple passes, should be more with fatigue or just form…or just blame the strong wind..?
we can win the league,
and the league cup,
I’m saying nowt!
Next international break, can TAW do a show about the chants?…as an oot who hasn’t made the pilgrimage, I’d like to be informed and involved?!
The Europa is massively important as we are going to be in CL soon, so the squad may as well get used to the travelling and playing two games. We are competing in every competition under Klopp. Sacrificing one competition to be competitive in another is a hang over from Bodgers low ambition and lack of ability.
There’s definitely a chance for many teams to win it this season. City and Arsenal look like the strongest teams – certainly the two teams with the highest top level – and then you have United and Spurs who both are very solid and very hard to beat.
Then there’s ourselves, who are very much at the start of something. Difficult to say what we are at the moment and what we can expect in terms of points in the end. Looks good at the moment in terms of results, but the performance level we need to be at in order to ensure stability of results isn’t there yet. Keep working on our game, stabilise our performance levels, keep picking the points while doing so, and we’ll see where we are in February/March.
City have the potential to win ten in a row run away with it, but it probably depends on Silva and Aguero staying fit. Without those two, there’s a weird fragility in that side that really shouldn’t be there. Maybe it’s their very loose midfield. If they don’t do that though (run away with it), we have as good a chance as the other current top six to stay in contention.
I hear many people saying the league is ‘poor’, ‘average’ etc. I disagree with that. Just because there’s not a team as good as Bayern, Barca, PSG or Real Madrid, it doesn’t mean it’s a poor league. It’s actually a very competitive league. Look at the bottom 10-12 now compared to, say, 10 years ago. They are much better football teams now, and all have players who are capable of hurting the top teams. Not just park the bus, fight, hit long balls and rely on set pieces; but actually play football, score goals and beat them.
So yes…so far there’s nobody doing a Chelsea and running away with it. But for me that’s partially because it’s very competitive. 80 points could well be enough to win the league this season (depending on what City do); but getting those 80 points will be very difficult, due to the ever increasing quality of the mid-level and bottom half teams.
and Bayern, PSG, Barca/Real, are pretty much on their own… but in the PL, it is a battle with every team… (except some easy games against Chelsea and ManC of course :)
I think the fever,sweats and general malaise is part and parcel of drug withdrawal, Neil.. stick with it tho.