THIS Liverpool side has to work harder than any I can remember to score a goal. The stint it has to put in just to see the ball go over the line is ridiculous. When did we get the last cheap one? Firmino scored a belter against Arsenal. It’s either unbelievable graft or a belter.
There is this thing I do when I see any Liverpool 11. It’s play “rank the likely scorers”. I saw this 11. I put Firmino first. The lad has yet to hit five in English football. Five. Second I have Milner. Third Henderson. Lallana fourth. He hasn’t scored in 10 hours of football. Emre Can fifth.
Fourth and fifth are sort of OK in a sense. I remember doing this under Benitez and my fourth or fifth would be Agger. My first though would be Fernando Torres. My second Steven Gerrard. My third Dirk Kuyt. They were good. But more than being good, they were goalscorers and between them they could score all the different types of goals.
They could score the blinders and the belters. They could score the team goals. But they could get you the cheap goal. The goal you don’t always deserve. The goal from nowhere.
I believe Roberto Firmino will have a season where he breaks 15 league goals for Liverpool. But when that happens he will regularly be third in the list of likely scorers from a first 11. Not steaming ahead in first place. Henderson will break 10. He needs to be fourth at best. At best.
Lads who make it happen or lads who get cheap ones. These lads are the lads. They are the business end. And this is the game of football. United have lads who you worry can do the business end but they can’t get there. You probably build them up far too much in your mind, inner chimp with his top off. But Liverpool have the footballers and are doing all the football better bar the football that matters. The back of the net football.
From my vantage point a million miles away De Gea does brilliantly from Lallana. From my vantage point first half Henderson should score. From my vantage point it should be 1-0 at half time. But it isn’t. And you understand why.
Second half is more even but the only true goalscorer on the pitch, the man who will end his career having scored more goals for Manchester United and more goals for England than any other to date, pops up and does the thing which puts the round thing into the rectangular thing. The only thing that matters.
It is the thing you need to keep working at. United buy loads of lads in the same five-year spell that they buy Rooney.
They buy sure things and gambles. They get in Henrik Larsson, Giuseppe Rossi, Diego Forlan, Cristiano Ronaldo, Louis Saha, Alan Smith all around plus or minus three years of Rooney.
They just keep getting them in.
Getting what they can when they can, cutting their losses when they have to. There is no magic bullet beyond committing to bullets. Beyond consistently rearming, changing the armaments, freshening.
One scores the winner today, another has been one of the best players of the last five years. Another is Forlan. Never worked. But brilliant. Alan Smith. Just never worked.
But you keep going. Keep plugging away. Adding these lads. Hunt the goals. Hunt the goalkeepers. Another Liverpool game, the same lesson. Better in the 70 yards between the boxes is great.
Being better in the two boxes is the thing that matters most.