THERE was a line running through my head before the winner. It was this: “The record books don’t record everything.”
This while Liverpool are toiling at 1-1 and down to 10. Thinking that will look like Liverpool have failed to back up one good win with another; a failure rather than what it actually is — Liverpool played reasonably well against a side better than their league position in very difficult circumstances.
This wasn’t Newcastle, West Ham or Watford away. The Reds were doing all they could and if not winning then not losing their battles all over the pitch.
“The record books don’t record everything.”
And it remains true. The record books don’t record everything despite Christian Benteke’s winner. They don’t record the intelligence these Reds showed. They don’t record the pace and danger that Palace showed. They don’t record the heart and passion displayed by both sides.
Both sets of footballers were a credit to their supporters and their managers. Were a credit to themselves — however unfashionable saying that sort of thing might be.
So we must do that. We record everything. It’s our job to do that, the job of the brilliant 3,000 in Selhurst Park. The job of the millions of Liverpool supporters around the world. The job of this column, as limited as it is, and those who like it. We record everything else. Everything beyond those bare bones.
I think I’d probably rather come up against Messi than Bolasie at this stage. There is some sort of muscle memory he has that against Liverpool he gets some sort of aristeia — the state in Ancient Greek literature where a hero performs far above himself in battle; unstoppable, physically dominant, certain of his own victory.
Every time Liverpool see Bolasie he walks two foot taller, runs two seconds faster, takes two more touches. He is simply terrifying. I can’t really hack it, to be honest. God knows what our players think.
But our players keep on and keep keeping on. There is something you can do when you fancy your lads to create late on.
We would all have thrown Daniel Sturridge on, not Kolo Toure. Again, the record books make that look like a defensive change. But it wasn’t. Our manager looks to create the platform which means the chance will come and Liverpool will keep probing. He is able to make the counterintuitive change because he trusts these lads will dig something out.
This is a serious sea change. I trusted these lads would dig something out. I thought Benteke’s chance on 92 was it. But I knew we would have something. Benteke ran the channels well when he came on for Divock Origi.
The bald facts have that sub, too. Origi off, Benteke on. But Origi again showed the value of being a physical front man who created space. He softened them up. Ensures they couldn’t rest. He’s fast looking hard to look past.
Jordan Henderson’s early yellow inhibited his performance. That he gets it essentially for Jon Flanagan doesn’t get recorded. Liverpool improved when down to 10, or rather Palace didn’t know quite what to do, suddenly given a new set of problems and for the only time looking like a side who haven’t won in the league since December.
The performance of both Emre Can and Dejan Lovren before and after the red card are worthy of praise. Can was Liverpool’s best midfielder throughout and then dropped in and dictated from centre half. Lovren won everything that came near him. An outstanding performance, one he has been threatening to give. He had no interest in not winning.
Liverpool’s grafters grafted. Lack of guile as ever a problem but you earn the right to show guile at Selhurst Park. They don’t put it on a plate for you.
We record the moment when Benteke wins his penalty and dispatches nonchalantly. We record the joy.
Jürgen Klopp’s Reds remain flawed. They will always, I suspect, be imperfect. These lads will never let us down for fighting spirit. They’ll have good games and bad games. But they’ll scrap for everything. For themselves. For their supporters. For their manager.
Seven days ago they were on the floor. Oh what a feeling. Dancing on the ceiling.
Write that down.
Up the gnarly Reds.