ONE of my favourite Liverpool stories — and it really does come up over and over again — is the number of people whose dad said that Ian Rush wouldn’t make it at Liverpool.
No-one is saying that about Ben Woodburn.
Nor though, and the Liverpool manager is right to say it, should they be saying he will definitely score 10% as many goals for Liverpool as Ian Rush. That he will be one 10th as good a player as Ian Rush. Because Ian Rush scored loads of goals and was frankly amazing at football.
But it’s exciting, always exciting, to have a young attacking prospect to urge on. It was, when he cracked his finish past Marco Silvestri in the Leeds United net, a gorgeous moment, a moment we are all either still dreaming of or lamenting that dream has had to die. It was a moment not when a young talent announces itself — that’s almost always imposed in retrospect — but just when youthful reverie became flesh. Someone else having what you had always wanted. Imagine it, the purity of it. What was pleasing was the calmness of the strike was completely opposed to the intensity of the celebration — everything there balanced and in order.
Elsewhere in the game, Liverpool were occasionally in danger of not getting the result while simultaneously getting a similar outcome as the weekend just gone. Liverpool opened the scoring through Divock Origi with 15 to go on the clock, got a second and never looked like conceding once they were ahead. Liverpool are in danger of finding themselves with a regulation 2-0 in their back pocket.
There was a lot to like about the evening:
– Beating Leeds. This is very important. This wasn’t some crowd from the Championship whose results you will keep an eye on and hope they do OK because they did OK at Anfield. This was Leeds United. An awful set of lads. Let’s be clear about this with a thought experiment: Through some unknown set of circumstances you are obliged to take a night out with either 10 random match-going Manchester United supporters or 10 random match-going Leeds United supporters. It is a toss of the coin. Heads Manchester United, tails Leeds. Imagine it. If while that coin is spinning you aren’t urging it with every fibre of your being to fall with heads winning, your decision making is all over the show.
– Trent Alexander-Arnold. He’s good, isn’t he? Looks the part and should be considered if not for Middlesbrough then quite possibly for Stoke at home or Sunderland away when it starts to speed up. The ball for the opener is a belter and he is very assured. There will always be a reason not to risk him in a league game but he has made quite the point today and yet again confirmed the Liverpool manager and his team know what they are doing when they started to work with him to play full-back (a process which started with the current academy staff before Jürgen Klopp arrived) and then chose not to strengthen there before a ball was kicked this season.
– Fifteen minutes of Ovie Ejaria in the first half. He looked irrepressible.
– Georginio Wijnaldum hitting the post. It’ll be knocked over in the excitement but that was neat link up play and the sort of space filling which has been absent recently.
– Sending Leeds back to Yorkshire having had a look at our new stand and with nothing to show for it. Hope they don’t win again this season.
– Lucas Leiva makes a lovely little run just before the opener which creates a teeny bit of doubt in Leeds’s players minds, which in turn allows that little bit more space for Alexander-Arnold to put the ball in.
There was a fair bit not to like:
– Shots from distance. Just pack it in, lads. Especially you, Albie. Don’t think I’m not watching.
– We felt a senior player down in centre mid, when we came under the cosh. Which, when we were playing two of them, was a bit out of order. They do well when we are ahead, but there were two patches of Leeds pressure in the second half and we don’t really manage to do much other than allow them to punch themselves out.
– And simultaneously we felt an attacker light until Woodburn came on. If the front two of the front three is Daniel Sturridge and Origi then we perhaps don’t have that problem. Each can play as the conventional front man and occupy people and hold the ball up. And then take turns dropping in and wide. Sadio Mane seemed a little lost in that and needed us to be that bit more orthodox and symmetrical.
– Some people joined in with “Stand Up If You Hate Man U”. It wasn’t great. It used to happen a lot in the ’90s and would always be attempted to be drowned out. The likes of Blackburn would come and give it an airing. See above, though — this was Leeds United. A terrible set of lads. Don’t give them a thing.
– Origi getting kicked all over the place with very little protection.
Things to like and things to not like. But there were also things to love, encapsulated in firstly two lads who can still play for the Under 18s walking off the pitch together, one with an assist and another with a goal. One having captained the other. That’s a massive part of what football both is and also should be.
Secondly there’s this moment when Woodburn’s scored and Lucas jogs over to him and you know now that Lucas would rather have not played, and Christ you completely understand why, but he is beaming, absolutely bloody beaming; there in that moment is also a massive part of what football both is and also should be. It has to be said and dwelled upon what an impressive young man Lucas Leiva is. He’s not even 30 yet.
This thing of ours. Always new favourite stories. New favourite things. New ways to fall in love. Teenage dreams, so hard to beat.
Hull please, if we can. Until then Bournemouth etc. Let’s go, Reds.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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It cannot be adequately articulated just how awful Leeds fans are. I’d forgotten all about it. The ‘you’re shit, aaaaaahhhhhhhh’ chant? Seriously? Get to fuck with that Sunday League shite.
It seems to rear its head every summer, but the idea of Lucas being sold to some Turkish retirement home always annoys me.
We’ve invested almost ten years in the lad and he’s the ideal squad player. No idea about his contract situation, but he never makes noises about leaving. We’re not well-stocked in the ‘experience’ department as it is, with Milner being the only other one in there. And as you say, he’s not even 30. He should be kept around the place. Experience always comes in handy when the chips are down in a run-in.
I’m hoping Klopp has a spare pair of specs and a seat in the dugout for him once he packs in.
Our Scouser from Brazil.
I think he already has Specs. Think I remember him wearing a pair when he got sent off for throwing a bottle of water in St. Louis.
Last night served to remind me of just why I hate Leeds so much. I wasn’t really old enough to appreciate it in the ’70’s but it was drummed into me that they were a historical rival and a horrible set of pricks who just encapsulate everything about wools. From their inbred meff following (and ANY L’pool ‘fan’ applauding or worse joining in with ‘Stand up if yers hate Man U!’ last night give yer frigging heads a SERIOUS wobble! Singing about teams we aren’t even playing ….. Serious Sky generation wool shoithousery that! Hang your collective heads in shame!); through to the sly, dirty twats on the park, they’re just a horrible, horrible football club.
Doesn’t matter the era or manager, Leeds continue to be a dirty set of ____ on the pitch. It’s been ingrained in the clubs DNA right through from Revie. And the current version seemed intent on living upto that last night by going through anything in Red. Helped by a lame ref. giving them carte blanche to go around that.
Not the greatest of games, but man did it feel f-ing BOSS to dump that shower out. Hopefully it’s a LONG time before we have to suffer them at ours again. Topped off by young Ben’s great take. Absolutely chuffed for him.
15 and counting. Roll on Sunday.
Up the treble hungry Reds!
I am with you on Lucas. Class act, both on and off the field.
Great stuff, as always, Neil. Loving the Teenage Kicks quote. Perfect on Woodburn, Alexander-Arnold and Ejaria and the crazy, lovely emotions that go with it – for them and for us.
Agree with you and PWL about Lucas. The sort of bloke you always want on your side.
Great first paragraph (enjoyed the rest too) . Went to see Rushie play against Preston reserves when I was about 7 with my Dad – we were certain he wouldn’t make it. Loved the clip of Milner celebrating the goal last night – great to see the experienced lads made up to see the youngsters doing well
Had a message after the game from a mate who’s a Leeds fan upset about a section of our fans singing about Istanbul and stabbings. I thought their support on the night was good apart from the Man Utd bit and loads of reds around me joining in. They took the piss out of themselves a fair bit as well. Let’s look at ourselves first Neil. We have a section of plain nasty haters.
And there was me thinking it was only my old man who was dumb enough to think Rushie would never make a player.
Serious Sky generation wool shoithousery that! Really??!! How do you know it was wools?
I am unlucky to work in Leeds and work with Leeds supporters – nice enough blokes until we talk about our own teams. Their fans are mostly Neanderthals who would probably vote for Paul Nuttall to be prime minister. They are crowing today about how they ‘showed’ us and that Super Leeds were coming back. So pleased that it was our youngest player ever to score against them.
That Trent Alexander-Arnold is good indeed. I know he might move into another position at some point but give him another yeah or so and what a complement to Clyne. Clyne, a consummate defender who is useful going forward but who never looks like a player converted from further forward. TTA, a player converted from further forward.
Agree on the shots from distance and the senior player in midfield. England’s Kev Stewart struggled a bit I thought and Can seems to be better suited to playing there than further forward. We could of course have played Lucas there but it seems that Sakho’s goose is well and truly cooked and poor Illori seems to have fallen through the cracks. But more than anything I thought it showed the difference that Sturridge can make.
Most importantly, Liverpool – second in the league, Liverpool reserves in the semis of the League Cup. Shankly would be loving this.
What if that thought experiment was 10 Leeds fans and 10 Chelsea fans though? Doesn’t bear thinking about.
It doesn’t matter who it was. It’s wool behaviour and frigging embarrassing to have L’pool fans doing it. Wherever they happen to be from.
A bit to the late to the article on this side of the world (US), but thanks anyways Neil for a nice review of the last match.
I watched it with an open-mind after seeing the selection as to see who could keep up in this mickey mouse tournament. Great to watch Klopp’s trust in the younger players and orchestrate them towards a win.
Loved to see the look on Woodburn’s face. I hope the fucking media don’t over-hype this kid too and fuck this up for everyone and him. Case in point, Ibe, Sinclair, Sterling, etc.
I really didn’t care for the stupid shots from distance. What is with these players today that they forgot how those wonderful players from yesteryear knew where the goal was when shooting? What the fuck do they practice on the training grounds?
Anyways that was my rant. I LOVED how the kids played. I really enjoy the youngsters to revel in the atmosphere, to be under pressure and then overcoming it with moments of brilliance. Their spirit is yet to be tarnished. I hope it goes on for as long as they can play. They are genuine in this approach.
I wished so much for Lucas to just fucking score. Lucas please score next time.
I’m not sure about Leeds and Leed’s fans, except know that Damien Hirst is a huge fan. I don’t give a toss for his so called artwork, nor do I for his team.
Now on to Bournemouth. Remember Burnley lads, don’t get too cocky, keep heads about you and trust in the manager. The 12th Man better be right alongside – yeah us fucking fans. Be there all the way and lift these Reds up!
I wish Jurgen has enough this weekend to keep the Red Machine in full effect. It’s going to be another tough scrap.
Up the Reds!!!