HUNG on at the whistle. Hung on to give one more ‘is right’ and one more ‘cop for that’ and one more ‘up the Reds’. Hung on to see the manager and the captain in the middle of the pitch and to see them give it the big one, and I hung on to give it the big one back. Bit of a tear in the eye, being honest. Adrenaline coursing through me, being honest. We’ve all had a pint so we can all be honest. Late finish last night, early start today. Being honest, Liverpool weren’t very good but, being honest, I am buzzing more now than I was after Watford and Hull.
Liverpool were good enough. That is the key thing.
It’s a day to give it the big one. The Reds aren’t going anywhere. Twenty-five more hurdles and they will all take some crossing and some surviving — it is outrageous it remains November — but Liverpool aren’t going anywhere and that is the most important thing.
There is a lot to be said about Liverpool’s patience today. At times some would wonder if there was too much. Liverpool kept going one more diagonal rather than more direct, but when they did try to force it, they would give the ball away cheaply.
For me, I would rather watch Liverpool be patient on days like today. I love goals, but I hate shots. Shots are a throw of the dice. There is no such thing as a sure thing when shooting and it allows rest and solace for the opponent. The worst hasn’t happened, another attack fended off. Goal-kick. Liverpool couldn’t get themselves into a position where those dice were loaded in their favour. They couldn’t get in front of the goal and so Liverpool would find themselves throwing the dice.
The opening goal made a mockery of all that, passed deliciously into the corner from an unlikely angle. Divock Origi stamping himself on the game and possibly on the season, given the circumstances. It was a day where the subtlety and cleverness looked likely to fall short, an introduction to an English winter where frozen doors sometimes have to be forced open. Locksmiths falling short; sledgehammer encouraged.
We’ll see about that over the course of the next few weeks. It’s now clear how hard sides intend to make it for Liverpool. Southampton forced back when Sunderland deliberately fell back but this is our reality. We create it by cutting loose as we have. Philippe Coutinho will be a loss but it won’t be terminal for Liverpudlian hopes. Far from it. As long as we believe and hope and urge, urge, urge.
The manager fronted things during the game. He wants a crowd to whip up a frenzy. Urge, implore, scream and shout. Let it all out. He knows that some days we need 12. We need 12 when the referee is a dope and it is cold and it isn’t quite there. We need 12 because 12 is the point and we need 12 because we need to collapse into Saturday nights, feeling like it was everything.
Because it is everything. This challenge for a league title is here and is now. It isn’t “see where we are in March”. It isn’t “don’t want to get my hopes up”. It isn’t “a marathon not a sprint”. It’s an 800m race. Two laps as fast as you can and imagine not roaring them on, roaring them home. Imagine not taking the essence of every marvellous second. Imagine letting it pass you by and waiting for the season DVD. Imagine not feeling like this, this great swaggering, sweating cold/hot mess, heart pounding to the rhythm of Jordan Henderson’s passing, needing more than wanting, wanting for all time. The process is everything for this manager. It’s everything for me. It’s not a big party if it is won. It’s 38 parties. Thirty-eight celebrations of Liverpudlian wonder, wherever you are in the world. Thirty-eight times to make such a racket in a ground where the players know exactly what it means.
They know that anyway. Look at the celebrations again. Look at them post-match. I hung on to take that in. Manager and captain. Giving it the big one. It’s frozen in my mind. I’ll hang on to that all week. They know.
It’s started Reds.
Let’s go Liverpool.