GOOD lord. #PrayForGibbo.

As ever a long season finds a way to get longer. At least this wasn’t heart-renderingly intense. The third round of the cup rarely is.

I have no issues with the selection. Maybe Daniel Sturridge ahead of Divock Origi or Ben Woodburn, perhaps he could have helped lads through the game a bit more. But I don’t know his fitness and I’d rather be watching Origi or Woodburn than Milan Jovanovic.

It’s what much of third round cup football has become under the circumstances. A young, or at least heavily rotated, elite Premier League side at home against a side from the bottom two tiers knocking and knocking and knocking on a gnarly, experienced door. There are tons of reasons for this that go beyond this article and the who, where and how this has happened also go far beyond this piece.

It’s important to say this is not automatically a bad thing. Typically well written Gutmann’s preview was, I didn’t feel as though it all warrants the nostalgia or that the competition needs some big pot of money to have it be taken seriously. Manchester United are the holders. Arsenal won the two before that. I’d be surprised if this season’s winner doesn’t come from the top six. I’d be amazed if one of the two finalists isn’t from the top six. Indeed, the Premier League era has, if anything, led to more winners from the big clubs, a pattern that began in the 1980s has intensified. I don’t know quite what we are meant to be nostalgic for other than our own feelings and we control them.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 7, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Cup 3rd Round match against Plymouth Argyle at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Yes, 30 years ago Liverpool wouldn’t have played such a young side in the third round. But then 30 years ago Liverpool weren’t bringing many, if any, youngsters through. These lads have to play for the first team at some point, and the ultimate nostalgia, the nostalgia that trumps everything will always be that lads from the local area and the youth ranks get a go. (Though even there the pedants among us can note the number of Scots imported to Anfield in 1892. As ever, history is a slippery bastard not to be trusted, nostalgia its Chinese Whispering sister, honeyed half-truths about it always being better in the old days).

Today was poor. Dull and poor. Jürgen Klopp will have learnt a lot about his young players. They will also have learnt a lot. In general — beyond just today but these lads all work together — Liverpool’s attacking play isn’t currently as good as it was in October. It’s fine margins, fine lines, but fluency has been just lacking for weeks. It isn’t just the lack of Sadio Mane, Liverpool feel a goalscorer light even now. Quietly fascinating developments for the top scoring side in the top flight and counterintuitively a reason to be cheerful — it shows the sky is the limit for this side.

Derek Adams and the 9,000 full Plymouth end can be proud of themselves and the concentration their side showed. They stayed resolute throughout the game and got their reward. I’ve seen variants on this game so many times I feel like I can work through the stages and tick them off. Firstly, get through the early part. Then stay compact. Get the half. Work after the break to show a threat. Then have a good 15 when the cavalry appear. Lastly, just hang on. There’s a sixth stage which is nick one but that never looked likely. Good on them though. They fought for each other and made a great racket.

So we do it again. Probably the same lads. The same process. The same faith. The same stages. It’s the magic of the cup.

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Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo

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