IT’S easy to have fun when the sun’s shining.
There’s nothing better than having a pint in a beer garden when the sun’s beating down on you, having a laugh with your mates. I’ve got no idea if it was actually bright and sunny when Liverpool last won a trophy, but in my head Wembley and Cardiff were always bathed in glorious weather when the Reds took teams apart to lift yet another trophy.
Footballers must love sunny weather. Yes it’ll be hot, especially for our lads working the way that Jürgen Klopp wants them to. Yet, it must be easier for them to have a laugh when the sun’s cracking the flags. Throwing Cruyff turns in and dispatching teams with ease. The 4-1 over Leicester City felt like that; a gang of lads having a laugh in the good weather and just enjoying themselves.
All being well, we’ll experience the same thing towards the end of the season. Great weather in May as we sneak past Chelsea at the top of the table. The sun glinting off the Premier League trophy as Jordan Henderson lifts it above his head and supporters around the world go absolutely bananas. Next season, when Sky show that moment of the trophy being hoisted aloft before every game they show, keep your eye out for the sun beaming down onto it.
There are games to be won before then, though. Games that won’t be played in the sunshine. Games played in rain, sleet and snow. Players wearing long sleeves and gloves, battling it out and wishing they were somewhere else. While the lads in Germany put there feet up in front of log fires and laugh at their English counterparts, we’ll be watching the Reds play 300 games in one week.
The start of the season was fun and, with any luck, the end of it will be too. However, we might be heading into a bit of a slog for a while now. We’re probably going to have a bit of a fight on our hands for the next couple of months. That’s alright, though. This feels like a team equally as ready for a battle as it is for a laugh. The way the Liverpool captain fronts up the likes of Diego Costa and Ross Barkley and watches them recede into their fake hardman shell suggests he’s not afraid of a fight.
Klopp knows it. His post-match comments were interesting in the wake of the derby. He said: “You cannot be 100 per cent sure what the opponent is going to do. We had an idea of course, and it was pretty much like what Everton did; making a wide game of it, starting like they finished [against Arsenal] — pretty wild and intense, with man-orientated defending. We did it in training to cope with this.”
Football can seem so simple sometimes. As fans, you want your team to go out and batter all-comers, especially after seeing the way this Liverpool team can play when it’s at its best. Watford were no slouches but we put six past them. Managers can’t view things through such a simple prism, of course. Their job is to figure out what opponents are going to do and come up with something to counter it.
In the heat of the moment, it might have felt as though Everton had the beating of us in the opening third of the game and perhaps a better team would have done. Klopp knew what he was doing, though. He knew they’d come out with all guns blazing and try to hurt us early doors, and he knew that they’d fade. There are very few teams in the league as fit as us and if we can maintain that fitness throughout the season then more teams will try to take us on but blow themselves out, just like Everton did.
We’ve got some horrible games coming up when you look at what the weather’s likely to be doing. Sunderland on January 2 won’t be fun, especially as we’ll only have finished playing half an hour before it kicks off. Hull at the start of February won’t be a laugh either, though if we’re lucky they’ll be just as abysmal then as they are now and we won’t have too much of an issue. The good news is the weather should have broken by the time we need to go to Stoke.
It’s easy to play well when the weather’s good. When the sun isn’t shining and it’s freezing cold and rain or sleet is lashing down it’s not as much about winning in style as it is just winning by whatever means necessary. As we entered the final stages of the game at Goodison Park on Monday night I thought ‘this is the sort of game Chelsea have been winning 1-0, we simply have to do the same’. We did. There’ll be more games like that before the sun breaks through the clouds. Let’s have a few more results like that too, hey?
Up the battling Reds. Have a good Christmas, everyone.
– Here is the Central League show our look at the latest goings on at The Academy with special guest Michael Beale, free this week as part of the TAW Christmas Hamper.
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