LIVERPOOL won and played well.
Liverpool opened the scoring in the 36th minute. Liverpool doubled their advantage in the 77th minute. Two nils don’t get any more regulation and we’ve forgotten what they feel like. It is what you are supposed to want.
Further, there is a feeling growing that we can’t expect Liverpool to play at 100 miles an hour every week and that they need to be able to make changes, however the manager chooses to next season.
Next season, next season, next season. It’s all we think about during games like this. Joe Allen and next season. Jordon Ibe and next season. What will come next season, what will be different, who will be different.
What makes this conversation difficult is that it’s hard to work out if Liverpool did the professional job against a decent side eager for all three points or if Liverpool and Watford played out a game where there was a bit more bucket and spade than there would be in November about proceedings. It was a hot day and while hot days are the same for both sides, it reduces the sort of bustle Liverpool have at times struggled to cope with this season. And further, Watford are a side likely to change their manager, who have nothing left to play for, who have achieved what they set out to achieve.
It’s been the same with Stoke, Bournemouth and Swansea, all in different ways. What exactly is it that we are seeing? What are we learning? Swansea got amongst the Reds last week in exactly the same way that Watford got amongst them back in December and have since gone and beaten West Ham. Bournemouth switched on when it was too late. Stoke were conceding goals all over the place. In a league season where everyone has fancied it and gone at 100 miles an hour and when a next season beckons with more of the same, what exactly can we – and more importantly our manager and his staff – take from all this?
What suggests it may be a professional job with a regulation scoreline is that Simon Mignolet had to do a fair bit. One save in particular stood out at 1-0. Watford were dangerous in flourishes and could have scored a couple. They played their game; Igalho and Deeney were threatening without quite being as terrifying as they were at Vicarage Road.
Liverpool missed chances as well, or missed chances to set up clear-cut chances. The wrong ball at the wrong time, three touches when two will do. Watford were opened up time and again and Liverpool’s two could have been four or five — what looks like regulation then becomes a rout and everyone has a lovely party in the sunshine.
Joe Allen managed that anyway first half. He was everywhere and whatever happens next season it has, at times, been an absolute joy to watch him this.
For reasons of the aforementioned 100 miles an hour we have had to play against so often, he’d still not be this correspondent’s, nor I’m 99 per cent sure Jürgen Klopp’s, first choice for league games next season, but he has been the Liverpool midfielder I have most enjoyed watching in 2016. His awareness, his touch and the information on his passes is brilliant to see. He passes the ball in a way which makes the decision for the recipient. There’s such intelligence to his play.
Kevin Stewart ended the game strongly, Christian Benteke’s performance was a credit to both himself and his manager — only his sharpness was lacking. Everything else was there. He may well still have a part to play this season, but next season will not be his as Liverpool’s number nine.
Because people like me write things like this, because you like to read and listen and talk about the game, because we love football so much, we like to learn things constantly (so often they number five), we like to be able to say this tells us that and this points at the other. We have to shrug our shoulders occasionally and say that we had a nice day sitting outside, we enjoyed watching the game, we enjoyed seeing our friends. We took the chance to chat about next season and next week and things that don’t even pertain to football.
The regulation 2-0. The end of season game. A good day. Liverpool won and played well.