IT’S going to be a rushed job, this. Who previews Liverpool at home to Leicester at Christmas? There’s stuff to do. It’s a busy time.
I gave myself a Christmas break, in honour of Jürgen Klopp and his people. They love a mid-season break in central Europe. My visit to Berlin — what a gaff that is — caused me to miss only my second away in the past couple of years. Me and the lad watched the Watford match in a jarg Irish bar off the Alexander Platz, under a railway bridge.
I was on the Kilkennys and curry wurst and sitting pretty. Then that game started. It finished me.
This has been a mother fucker of a season so far. I can’t think of another way to describe it. It’s not exactly been the worst, nowhere near a good one, and too weird to be dubbed a good old-fashioned “rollercoaster ride” of a campaign.
There’s the pre-Klopp period. I’ve blocked that out. I can’t remember anything about those couple of months. Who did we play? Who was in goal then? Did we actually score any goals?
Then the big man swaggered into town. I can recall every minute of every moment Jürgen and me have shared together. From the first press conferences and interviews, through to that phase with all the running and the winning going on, and finally to the past month with the wheels coming off so suddenly and so dispiritingly.
The Watford beating was a tough pill to swallow. It really felt like we are now defintively in a snakes and ladders game of a season. That one, down at Vicarage Road, was one long bastard of a snake.
It was easier to take the defeat against Palace, even the loss at Newcastle, because Liverpool had shown enough beforehand to suggest we were already very much in credit at the form bank.
The draw with West Brom and the defeat to Watford definitely put us back in deficit. It’s just rubbish. Who knew that we would end up letting bloody Watford steal Christmas?
The cast for this year’s panto all need sacking, mid-run. Let’s get a whole new crew in. Let’s bring back Bobby Davro, her from Atomic Kitten, and Pete Price, and give this year’s storyline a happier ending.
So what if league leaders and humiliators elect, Leicester City, are in town. Who cares what they’re doing, or that they have horribly reminded us of ourselves just two seasons ago?
Right now it looks like we should simply try and buy half their team in January and just be done with it. But the thing about football is the way it always adheres to the “it’s darkest before the dawn” adage. It’s uncanny how often that maxim applies.
And never did it feel more apt than in 2005, as we limped through a league campaign in Rafa Benitez’s first year, lamely trying to hang on to Everton’s coat-tails. I recall just wanting that season gone from my life.
Then, in the late March something happened. We found oursleves in a European Cup quarter-final against Juventus. Then we noticed ourselves winning that tie.
Oh look, now we’ve got Chelsea at Anfield and we’re 90 minutes away from the biggest final in world football. Us. The shitty, frustrating mob who couldn’t catch Everton or a cold.
The rest is the best. You know how it goes.
There comes a time in the life of football teams when it really isn’t much about the tactics, the quality of player or the CV of the man managing the opposition.
It becomes about the collective will. The degree of desire to prevail. Liverpool Football Club is in a funk right now. We don’t even know where to point fingers, it’s got that bad. Fortunately, it won’t take a whole heap to make it swiftly better. Just one convincing home win may do it.
How can Liverpool beat cock-a-hoop Leicester City then? Beats me. I’ve no idea. I hope Jürgen Klopp has. I suspect his main job though is to convince his players that he has the remedy. The truth is not important. A pep talk with Christian Benteke will hopefully pay off.
The relative merits of the squads or the selections on the day are not vital. Klopp’s mission word, “belief, is though. Liverpool need to find some. To summon up Anfield ghosts and harness that famed sense of entitlement in the cause of winning just one football match.
So bring on yer Leicester City, bring on your Cockneys by the score. It’s Christmas time. Mistletoe and lager. The Reds are at home on Boxing Day. I say we’re going to win. And when we do, the world will look a better place.
The team that can restore dreams and give cause for songs: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno; Can, Lucas, Henderson; Coutinho, Ibe, Benteke.
Pics: Propaganda-Photo–David Rawcliffe