WELL well. The inevitable points dropped. They were going to be dropped somewhere. And they couldn’t be dropped better than that; couldn’t be dropped with greater elan and panache. That’s the strange thing.
Process and outcome. We have a manager in Jürgen Klopp who is all about process, who is very much engaged with that, who wants to make his footballers play and knows everything come from there. But he is a manager who will take outcome when he has to. He never had the opportunity to do that today, though his players deserved that.
Accentuating the positive? Perhaps. But Liverpool went to Southampton and forced them back and missed most of the key chances in the game. Only Charlie Austin’s header gave Southampton a sniff whereas Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Nathaniel Clyne will all feel they missed in big moments.
What’s true is that I might not be able to manage 26 more of these. My heart pounded, fluttered, did somersaults. Kicking every ball and it is still November. What can you do about this? Enjoy it? I am, but by Christ I am going to have to make sure I don’t miss another game. This nervous energy needs to go somewhere.
We didn’t need to be nervous. Loris Karius, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren resolute. Assured. Every touch a good touch, reading the game with aplomb. Jordan Henderson in front of them spending his time prompting and probing, sitting when he needed to, covering across with aggression. Clyne and James Milner mostly secure in their own back thirds and the only question being is they can offer more in the final third.
Clyne probably should score; aiming for the side netting when anywhere in half the goal would be enough. Milner constantly on the verge of getting in behind, needing another pass rather than a cross.
Many will wonder about the changes. I like a sub, a fresh start, a new dawn, a different problem. Yet the manager second half was watching Liverpool create cracks, be perpetually one more chance away. Easy to think change it from the nervous seats, the TV seats, the cheap seats. He manages these lads and thought they had it within them. He trusts them and that is a better place than anything else.
But still Daniel Sturridge did look a live wire and the side did want to play through Coutinho. That coming deeper, sooner may have been no bad thing. Sturridge and Origi could both wonder about conditions, wonder about touches not quite coming off, wonder about the value of being the finishers, the professionally dead-eyed and wonder if they could just have offered that bit more clout. Football isn’t digital. Some things aren’t on or off, right or wrong. They are degrees of difference.
Still, Southampton deserve credit. Virgil van Dijk was excellent the first half, José Fonte excellent the second. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Oriol Romeu solid, and Steven Davis deservedly in better company than when I saw him last Friday in Windsor Park. These are good players destined for a top-half finish. Liverpool pushing them back, forcing errors in their own gaff all the more significant for that.
You can’t win every week but every week you can show why you can win any game. Liverpool have done that. Dropped points but not pride, not momentum, not class.
Up the dropped points Reds. Process first. Promise.