philblundell

PERCENTAGES. People don’t really think about what happens on a football pitch in terms of percentages, when the reality is that they’re in everything. With Liverpool 3-1 up and cruising on Sunday, Bournemouth were 500/1 to win the game of football which is roughly a percentage of 0.2%, a 99.8% chance of not winning if you want to look at it that way.

But this was defied, Liverpool somehow managed to blow a lead that should have been secure, and heads well and truly fell off. One common line seems to be that we can’t keep doing things like this. Let’s be honest, we won’t do things like this very often. I actually can’t remember the last time we led by two goals in the 76th minute and failed to get as much as a point – it’s entirely possible that I, as a 29-year-old, have never had it happen in my life. That is how rare this kind of thing is.

There’s a chance of all kinds of things happening. Steven Gerrard fell over when under no pressure being a really good example of something that happens. It was unlikely, but it affected the outcome of something – an actual title race, in that case. Someties you just have to shrug your shoulders and get on with things.

Football is a crazy game and plenty of things happen that shouldn’t. Liverpool blowing a 3-1 lead shouldn’t happen, but it did. Loris Karius wouldn’t spill that ball at the feet of Nathan Ake if the shot happened another 20 times. Divock Origi quite possibly wouldn’t have pulled off a finish of such high quality to give us a 2-0 lead more often than he would. Although, replay the same situation in injury time, and he hooks that shot into the net as opposed to over the bar.

In football, and sport in general, things that really should happen often don’t, and things that really shouldn’t happen do. In South Africa last week, a side were losing 1-0 deep into injury time and their goalkeeper went up for a corner and managed to score an overhead kick. If that happened to us, what do you do? You just laugh, don’t you? I couldn’t be arsed getting angry about that but no doubt someone would complain about the marking for three days.

The important thing now is to move on. Deal with it and move on. In a 38 game season mad things will happen. Southampton basically lost at the weekend because their goalkeeper had a ball hit his standing leg in his six-yard box – when do you think he’s ever going to do that again?

The reaction to the second and fourth goals particularly annoyed me. How did so many people manage to look like they were inches away from getting something on it? Why wasn’t the shot from Steve Cook closed down better? Why wasn’t the ‘keeper able to hold it? Why did he spill it where he did? So many questions that any answer you can come up with is basically irrelevant. It’s happened now. It’s very unlikely that this Liverpool side are going to replicate that any time soon. Maybe no Liverpool side in our lifetime will. That is how unlikely what happened at the weekend is.

Twitter, WhatsApp groups, Facebook Messenger groups and internet forums went into meltdown at full time on Sunday, and that’s fair enough. It was frustrating, it was annoying, and the fact that we were 500/1 to get beat means that it’s clearly going to grate and push people to the bounds of rational thinking, but rational thinking is needed in these situations.

If you can’t comprehend what you’ve just seen, why bother trying? Things happen, things that are likely and things that are unlikely – why let the unlikely things bother you? I personally found the Burnley performance far more of a concern than what I saw on Sunday, I wrote a piece basically wanting Jordan Henderson and James Milner shot and then had to say I was wrong a month later. At least we actually looked really good for large parts on Sunday.

Some will say I was knee jerking then and maybe I was, but I’m not looking at anything from Sunday and finding any real long term issues. The goalkeeper? Maybe, but I think the reaction towards him is very much over the top. The willingness to write him off so easily is really, really strange.

Go back a little over a year and see what people thought of Divock Origi and then have a look what they think of him now. There seems to be a competition to write players, particularly young ones, off as fast as you possibly can. I really don’t get it. Adam Lallana has had it, Origi has had it, and now it’s Karius’s turn. Hopefully he recovers from this initial judgement in the way the others have.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 4, 2016: Liverpool's goalkeeper Loris Karius looks dejected as AFC Bournemouth score the second goal during the FA Premier League match at Dean Court. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If you see a player 10 times and he makes a mistake, maybe it’s not his true level and maybe he’s just done something he won’t do very often? Play the percentages again. When a team scout a player they don’t watch him for a few weeks and make an immediate judgement, yet football fans do. Some players you can obviously look at and judge quite easily because they’re that bad. Karius isn’t, like Lallana and Origi weren’t.

How we bounce back is the important thing here. In a 38 game season you’re going to lose games, if you want to win the league you can probably lose about five, maybe six. We’ve got a game on Sunday that you’d almost want to handpick, with no disrespect to West Ham. They look a mess, their manager looks broken and they’re absolutely all over the place with injuries. We bounce back with a win there and we can draw a line under a freak occurrence and move on.

We can’t afford for this to be a momentum stopper. The last time we lost we were absolutely abysmal and managed to then not lose for over three months. If we go just over three months without losing again we’ll be deep into the season, in mid-March. See the weekend as a blip as opposed to any reflection of where this Liverpool side are.

If we go into the derby without a win for four games, then you can panic and start to worry about the way things are heading. But a game where you have a two goal lead with 15 minutes to go? You don’t worry about that. You see it for what it was. An accumulation of mad stuff that won’t happen very often.

There is also one fact we might have to consider given we’ve conceded as many goals in the three games without him as we have in the 11 with him – Joel Matip might be the best player in the history of football. He probably isn’t but I’ve seen him play 10 times for Liverpool so I’m running with it.

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