Football - Football League Cup - Semi-Final 1st Leg - Stoke City FC v Liverpool FC

OUR man John Gibbons in the ground at half time. God, look at him. My days, walk around him. Resplendent in a Hat Scarf and Badge bobble hat. You should have seen him. John Gibbons half time: “You’ve got to do 100 words minimum on Joe Allen. What a first half. Like a 16-year-old playing against 12-year-olds. You run over there, lads, I will stride into this space here.”

What a first half from Joe Allen. What a performance from him. Worthy of all the words. For 80 minutes the game was his in a manner that stuns you. Where did that come from? How did it happen? As a performance it had everything but a goal I reflected when I walked away from the ground.

Then I saw the assist.

Behave.

Then I watched it again.

Seriously. Behave.

Joe Allen, ladies and gentlemen. Where did it come from? Where did it all come from? Liverpool abject at times at West Ham throw this in. Liverpool do it again. The swines.

There’s a piece my brain is halfway through. It is this:

  • We’ve tons of good players, you know. The issue isn’t how many good players we have. The issue is how many very good players we have and how the lack of them leaves minds unfocused at times.
  • We’re desperate to lash the baby out with the bathwater. That we have this strong a squad and a weak first 11 doesn’t mean we need to force an exodus. We need to simply keep working on that first 11 question.
  • We’ll get it wrong a bit. Get it right a bit. Get it a bit right. Get it a bit wrong.
  • We need two very good windows back to back. Slightly problematic as very few sides get them.

That’s the piece.

Listen: The Pink – immediate post-match reaction after Stoke v Liverpool

These lads versus Stoke, they are all able to contribute for Liverpool. Look: they all have contributed for Liverpool. That is what contributing looks like. Working for each other. Working for us. They can do that.

Week in, week out? Two days in, two days out? That is harder.

Football - Football League Cup - Semi-Final 1st Leg - Stoke City FC v Liverpool FCWhen you don’t have a star player to carry you, when you can occupy a half of the pitch but be more likely to concede than score? That is harder again.

But these lads can contribute to the cause. They want to, trust me they do. They are Liverpool players because they want to be. They want to win games for Liverpool. They want this thing. They don’t need to be here.

This is important. This is the other thing I want to say in this thing I will write later today:

The Liverpool manager is Liverpool manager because he wants to be Liverpool manager. He wants this thing. He could have hung on for Chelsea. For Real Madrid. Maybe for Manchester United or Bayern Munich.

He didn’t want that.

He wanted to be Liverpool manager.

He wanted the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. He wanted this nonsense. He wanted our nonsense. This is what he wanted. He isn’t doing us a favour. He wants us. We want him.

Dwell on that. Think about all that. These lads and that manager and his staff. They want to be part of this club.

Football - Football League Cup - Semi-Final 1st Leg - Stoke City FC v Liverpool FCThere’s more to say about this game. About Kolo and Lucas being brilliantly makeshift and defending with gusto.

There’s a ton to say about Emre Can. The goalscorer Ibe and the unexpected graft of James Milner.

But it comes down to that they want to win for Liverpool. They all, lads, manager and his staff, just need a bit more help sometimes. And sometimes not.

Sometimes you eat the Stoke. And sometimes, well, the Stoke eats you.

We ate the Stoke. Two more excellent last third players means we do that almost every week. No-one thinks that will be easy. But we all know. We all know.

In the meantime, Allen. The business. For now, he will do for me. If you’ve any sense he will do for you, too.

Match ratings: Stoke City 0 Liverpool 1

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Pics: Propaganda-Photo–David Rawcliffe

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