WITH every passing day, the point from Monday’s literal stalemate against a dogged, ultra-conservative but supremely well-drilled Manchester United looks better and better to me.
In the wake of the 0-0 draw there was an eagerness; a desperation to put thoughts of the game to bed early.
Instinctive reaction was to lament any number of Liverpool shortcomings on the night; a renewed inability to pierce a packed rearguard, an erratic return from Emre Can, a midfield failing to bring the front three to life and emboldened determination to write Daniel Sturridge off as a “Klopp player”.
Seeing SKY TV man-of-the-match awards go to Ander Herrera, plaudits given to the admittedly superb David de Gea and refreshed judgment offered that Jose Mourinho serves up a tactical masterclass; without knowledge of the scoreline the uninformed might have thought United had suckered Liverpool into conceding all three points.
The reality is that, without hitting any heights, the Reds improved during the second half, dominated possession, went closest to scoring and garnered a valuable point. You can’t win ‘em all and nor do you need to.
Disappointment lies solely in our true ambition. Reaction from the Manchester camp was a telling barometer of respect towards this Liverpool team’s attacking capabilities and overall credentials.
All this with the disruption of the World Cup hiatus (we need to stop fretting over “international breaks” and get a life), injuries to two key facilitators of this season’s fluent form and an Anfield candle which flickered before being doused by a surfeit of tourists and neutrals masquerading as Liverpudlians.
Touting, from opportunistic locals accepting a one-off bounty that pays for a season, organised grafters who work the credit system for a living, and the more “legitimate” packages can see even a midweek fixture hijacked by too many attendees who add nothing to the occasion or atmosphere. Manchester City fans sing “We’re not really here…” and this would make a perfectly apt song for our gatecrashers.
Anyone who was at the mental Europa League fixture in March will describe a completely different demographic and atmosphere. The issue needs tackling by the club, perhaps first in the new £9 Main Stand seats; in theory the access designated to embrace the disenfranchised native but by all accounts ending up in all hands from Reykjavik to Singapore. And, these gullible zombies are not paying nine quid for them.
Ask my mate, Chris Maguire. He came down from the Main Stand loft on Monday speaking fluent Icelandic; wearing Fisherman’s waders. As a Glastonbury regular he’s not averse to waterproofs – even in summer, but come on…
An old-style nil-nil from this fixture was an extremely valuable, worthy, point in a Premier League world that now derides the draw. Yes, titles are won with wins, but in a league where there are at least six, if not seven teams (yes, that’s you Blue boys) capable of taking points off each other, not losing might become a vogue thing this season.
By my reckoning, the seven title contenders and/or genuine Champions League coffer-chasers are playing 12 six-pointers.
Usually the preserve of relegation fodder, nearly a third of the season falls into this old-fashioned world where a last minute equaliser and the gleaning of a point is shin-slicer for those of us in the ground who are actually arsed about the result.
Now, have a look at the league table. There we are – the definition of handily placed – sitting, under the radar, in fourth place. For some; the conservative, joyless realists who bizarrely think Champions League dosh ends in up in their own mothball-stinking wallets, that’s enough. The race for fourth is the new Ryder Cup for non-golf fans.
Fourth is a mere bridgehead in the first battle of this long title war. We’ve already weathered what can only be described as friendly fire from serious enemies. One, superficial wound inflicted by a Lancastrian sniper.
Only one stern opponent still lies in wait but under the dark of Old Year’s Day – when the City walls close-in and travel packages are in short supply – we’re readying an ambush by a fierce, drunken mob.
Two measly points separate the Reds from the summit. Between now and then, it’s time push on; to fix bayonets and charge. Eight winnable games now ensue before the pre-Christmas family feud in Walton. By the time advent comes, we’ll be in Berlin gorging on coffee and cakes.
Stop apologising for thinking it. Keep on saying it. Embrace the winning mentality. Win them all.
Shankly, Paisley; if you’re listening, don’t fret, we’ll take each game as it comes and still win them all.
They say you don’t win the league with draws. And maybe that’s true – but only sometimes. But, equally you don’t win leagues by staying mute; being fearful, apologetic and lily livered.
If, as they say, it’s all about the wins, let’s win the next eight.
Bring on the might of the Palace, Watford, Southampton, Moysie, Bournemouth, West Ham Wanderers, and Boro.
Stop worrying about sneaking through those parked buses. Like the Tommies, like Evil Knievel; we’re going over the top.
If we crash into Tony Pulis and his Baggies tomorrow, don’t come looking for me. I’ll be in Spain.
Up the Reds.