TO WHOM it may concern. (To some it may not):

Went the loo on the final whistle.

Went the loo on the final whistle because I appear to be suddenly attempting to drink all the beer. All of the beer. Went the loo on the final whistle and crossed Steve Graves the other side of my handwash. He said: “Is right”. “Is right,” he said. Is right.

Liverpool were abject, Steve Graves is doing maths. Liverpool were diabolical, you should be doing maths too. Is right. Is right.

Let’s be clear – Sunderland are a dreadful football team. It’s astonishing how poor they are. Unable to be alehouse. Unable to clog it. Unable to do the basics that anyone needs to see or feel or have. They are eleven lads, trying their best but unable. In a sense it is heartbreaking. I love Sunderland, love the place and the people. They are a good set of lads on the stands there. Our lads in a sense. An unironically good set of lads.

Through one manager after another, one set of decisions after another they are left with a football team which is neither use nor ornament, hither and thither, betwixt and betwain. Allardyce needs a window. And even if he gets one and is successful all that window does is further exacerbate problems further down the round; another layer sticking plaster which leads to no scabs that can stand up to the slightest trauma. Another fine mess someone else has got someone else into.

Football - FA Premier League - Sunderland AFC v Liverpool FC

Liverpool couldn’t despatch this football team. Liverpool lacked certainty. Liverpool lacked quality. Another goalkeeper thrown up in the dying seconds. Another corner to be anxiously headed clear. Another win needlessly complicated. Another win where there wasn’t quite as much quality as there needs to be. We all know this. We all know that quality and composure and assurance.

There’s a contradiction here; Liverpool defended with certainty and they attacked with uncertainty. They held together well and effectively and they were rarely troubled. Apart from in moments. It’s the moments that bite, the moments that hurt, the moments which mean the attacking is uncertain, the moments which mean everyone knows a second is required.

Dejan Lovren for the second successive game was impeccable at the back for Liverpool. He was the business for Liverpool. He was what you want Liverpool to be. But you worry. Because of moments. He has moments in his past. He may have moments in his future. No wonder they snatch too often at the ball in the final third. They know more about moments than you or I do. One goal doesn’t settle the nerves but maybe two will.

For the second game on the bounce one goal has settled the issue and the same man has scored it. But even Benteke doesn’t get to settle. Does he fit, does he suit, is he a Liverpool player? All valid questions but he has scored the only goal in three 1-0 wins for Liverpool this season – this should count for something. This is what being a match winner is – scoring the goal that wins the match. But moments. Twice now in two games he should settle the question in Liverpool’s favour but moments don’t happen as they should. The question keeps being asked, keeps being repelled. And each time you think. Each time you think. You thinking, me thinking is what needs to stop. Matters need to start being beyond doubt.

Football - FA Premier League - Sunderland AFC v Liverpool FC

But Liverpool won. Liverpool go on as winners. Frustrating winners. None of Lallana, Coutinho and Firmino should be in gilded cages. None showed outrageous quality tonight bar perhaps Firmino who also had the moments you don’t want. This is how hard it is to be Liverpool manager – a centre forward who scores who doesn’t score enough. A troop of tens who don’t quite create enough but create enough for the centre forward to be missing enough. Centre backs who play brilliantly until they don’t.

I read a book recently where Klopp describes the ninety minutes as an ongoing state of emergency. Till he came here he won’t know the half of it. Liverpool, where the catastrophe curve curls upwards, takes you six behind City when they still have to come to Anfield, Libpool, full of urgent, hungry no-so-young men like me who need to see one thing happen, who hunger after it, crave it like vampires. The Reds, where there is always opportunity to become the thing and the whole of thing. Imagine. You shouldn’t have to. But imagine. It is here and it is now.

Instead, in spite, because, who knows. But this: We can drink the beer, all the beer, and look to West Ham United and imagine what three more of your points can do, imagine where three more of your points can ever so quickly lead. We can drink the beer, all the beer, and sing songs with our friends. We can drink the beer, all the beer and wish Liverpool, Libpool, The Reds, the Manager, all the luck in the world and remind them what is at stake. Instead, because, we can look at one another at the end of another year and nod and say “is right”, say “is right” because everything is at stake. Everything is possible. It is here, it is now and we are all alive and nothing is ruled out. Nothing should be, regardless of moments.

Nothing is ruled out.

Steve Graves is doing maths. I tell you this with love and certainty and delusion and silliness.

Thank you for reading, for listening, for putting up with it all. You really don’t have to.

With enormous love (come to town, lad),

Neil.

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Pics: Propaganda-Photo–David Rawcliffe

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