THE dust settles, the Reds leave the Big Smoke with a point and we are all disappointed.
Do me a favour and have a think about that for a minute. Last year, Tottenham finished third in a two-horse race and were being praised by all and sundry as the most exciting young team around. If you engage the rational half of your brain a point away at White Hart Lane is a good result. And yet we are all disappointed.
Well, mainly because we deserved more. The Mighty Reds deserved so much more from the game. We went to their ground and dominated 75 per cent of the game, created the better chances, hit the bar, had a goal disallowed, missed an absolute sitter, had the better opportunities while limiting them to just a couple and somehow come away with a 1-1 draw and a huge sense of frustration. In reality, we should be taking nothing but positives from this performance.
This Liverpool team is pretty good all told. Overall, we are playing the game better than the teams we are facing. This means something, surely. Over the course of the season this means something, doesn’t it?
I had a conversation on Saturday with my mate who has gone a bit bluenose in his footie views of late.
He was unimpressed by the Reds’ performance and spent half-an-hour after the match bemoaning that this side doesn’t control games, always looks vulnerable to the break and doesn’t have anyone to control midfield.
Every one of his concerns was met by an emphatic response as to why he was chatting shite but on Sunday, as my wine-addled brain tried its best to get me through the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
While I wholeheartedly disagree with his assessment of the game on Saturday I couldn’t help but agree with the general points made. We do lack someone to control the midfield, we are always susceptible on the break and, in games of this nature, the way the Reds play is very much edge-of-the-cliff stuff.
We don’t seem, on the face of it, that arsed with controlling these games. The difference in my view is that I don’t see these things as much of an issue — I think it is just an alternative way to play, an alternative style that Jürgen Klopp has specifically set out to achieve.
We are potentially susceptible on the break because we are happy to commit so many men in the counter high up the pitch and are confident in our ability to scramble back into shape to disrupt any transition towards our own goal. We do lack someone to get their foot on the ball at times but is it essential for this team in this shape? The evidence so far this season would be that it isn’t, although it would be nice.
3 – Liverpool are the first team to play away in their opening 3 top-flight league games of a season since Chelsea & Bolton in 1997-98. Trip
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 27, 2016
One issue with this type of football that might be clouding people’s judgement is that it isn’t easy to watch as a fan. It is nerve-wracking — brilliantly exciting edge-of-the-seat stuff at either end of the pitch.
However, the way Liverpool play is so aggressive that the defence are constantly being asked to make last-minute interceptions, to step out on the front foot to intercept with a distinct lack of a safety net behind them. It could traditionally be viewed as a lack of control, but for me it is a known risk that we are happy to accommodate.
It can, however, put you out of your comfort zone as a fan watching it as you can’t help but think that every mistake will lead to a goal. I think this perceived lack of control is allowing people to harbour dark thoughts — a bluenose mentality which then affects their assessment of the game and the general state of affairs for this team.
I have a belief that this longing for control is a romantic hangover from Rafa Benitez’s time as manager. He is a man who loves control — who has fought for it at every club he has been at — and spent his whole time at our club telling anyone who would listen why it was so important.
Benitez’s approach is still infiltrating our mindset and is difficult to cast it aside. We spent the entirety of Brendan Rodgers’s reign decrying the lack of shape and our susceptibility on the break, even when we finished second. His inability to set up a team done for him in the end. We are still banging on about it now.
On Saturday, we should have been able to close the game down, apparently — to see the game out 1-0. While I understand the rationale, and agree with it to an extent, I don’t think many teams will go to Tottenham and limit them to as few opportunities as we did.
Some of the nonsense bouncing around about Klopp and Liverpool, at this stage of the season — his first full season in charge — is unbelievable.
The Reds have gone away to the second and third best teams in the league last year and have picked up four points. In both games they were the better side and had the better chances. In both games I think it is fair to say that the opposition managers were relieved with the outcome given that the result may have been much worse.
The relentless pressure being exerted by Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea has everyone going bananas when points are dropped but they haven’t played anyone of note yet and the season is only three games old.
All of those teams will get tired, make mistakes and have hard lines at some point this season. If Manchester United or Manchester City maintain a 100 per cent record after the fourth game of the season then we might have to start worrying a bit, but until that happens can we all just relax a bit and try to enjoy what we are watching?
Instead of worrying about things outside of our control let’s concentrate on what we can do. The first home game of the season, a 5.30pm kick off against last year’s champions and with more fans able to watch us at home than at any point in years — let’s get them beat before the game even kicks off.
Beat Leicester and that’s seven points from four games, having played last year’s top three.
Find a way to beat Chelsea and that’s 10 points from five played — two points a game. Go at that pace for the majority of the season and we will be alright.
As a great man once sang: “Don’t worry about a thing/’Cause every little thing gonna be alright.”
Let’s go, Red Men.
For podcasts on every Liverpool game this season, transfer gossip, the lowdown on new signings and more, subscribe to TAW Player for just £5 per month. Minimum sign-up is just one month. If it’s not for you, all you’ve shelled out is a fiver! More information here.
Our latest FREE show is here, just press play: