WHAT wouldn’t you burn down now?
Imagine being on Liverpool’s coach coming back down the M62. A set of players looking at each other. A coaching staff looking at players. Loads of eyes on the back of the manager’s head. Imagine it.
I genuinely hope they pull over somewhere, some mill town, some junction of the M62. They pull over and they get smashed and they call each other for everything they can think of, lads are dragged outside, hidings delivered and taken. Each of them deserves it. And then they get back to work. Working for and with one another.
Since the Manchester City game Liverpool have lost so much of their fizz. The sheer exuberance has left town. There have been noises that this was beginning to happen before the Manchester City game, but they scored four against a Stoke side who gambled it all on the first 30. They got a deserved last-minute winner against Everton. They undid Middlesbrough. Even at Bournemouth they scored three and should have scored more, despite the shitshow the game became. I’d have given anything for Bournemouth away today. At least that is easy. At least you get out your seat and give it the big one.
This Liverpool side today could have played till midnight and not scored three. They gave it the smallest one. As ever the effort cannot be doubted. Indeed, this Liverpool side is currently the very essence of toil. By Christ do they toil. They graft like nobody’s business. Truly, they are diligent in their efforts. This was diligent attacking. All the things you get told. It was attacking where every touch was considered, where nothing flowed.
Had they played a little better, they almost certainly would have got rewards from this game. I’d be writing sentences like “despite the valiant efforts of Hull and their manager who clearly has them organised, Liverpool…” They were getting closer and closer to Hull’s goal and had they played a little better and not got the result I would perhaps devote a paragraph to them being unlucky. The bounce of the ball at the moment so rarely favours the Reds. The Hull ‘keeper makes a routine mistake from a corner and he isn’t punished. The Liverpool ‘keeper is for his routine error.
Yet, the Hull lads had gambled. You can’t win a raffle without buying a ticket and Liverpool are so lacking in exuberance at the minute they presume the worst before seeing a situation play out. They react late too often to the random. If you don’t take a chance, you can’t talk about luck.
And they didn’t play a little better. They played a little worse. They deteriorated by the last 20 minutes. It was all happening again. They were looking at each other as it was happening again. Groundhog pricks. You were thinking it; don’t you think they were?
What wouldn’t you burn down now? Look at you there with your matches. I had mine out on 85, head pounding again, wanting to roar at somebody, at everybody. My brain blocked, blood pumping. Verging on spots before eyes.
Jürgen Klopp can burn nothing down. And nor should he. But he finds himself in a very difficult situation where a win at Spurs matters, matters enormously. But a win at Leicester also needs to happen. So much of the progress of the first half of the season now feels lost — Burnley away feels far, far more likely than Crystal Palace away, than even Bournemouth away as mentioned before.
Klopp talks constantly about emotions in football, he wants everyone to feel it. He wants to engage that emotion, make it positive and this is a bold, bold move. Because it isn’t like this gaff and its wider diaspora doesn’t already do emotion. It isn’t as though hearts aren’t worn on sleeves. Emotion snaps back at you when things go wrong. Emotion makes it hurt. Emotion leads people to lash out. At his players. At him, his philosophy, his outlook. It’s not called an emotional hothouse for a reason. The heat hurts. It burns.
All of that would be wrong. These lads remain the same lads, flawed in the way all the football teams that don’t win the title (and many of those that do) are. And when a Liverpool manager stops being himself then the whole situation becomes a nightmare. Been there, done that. On five occasions since 1990, frankly.
It is time to remain cool, time to recharge and reassess. Time to think. Spurs out the way and there is a big, big gap. It hurts, but let it hurt together, not picking out individuals, not looking at ones and twos. Not now. These Liverpool players all scrapped against Chelsea and all of them were on show earlier in the campaign when their output matched their commitment. Now they only have commitment.
What wouldn’t you burn down now?
Imagine that bus on the way back. Seething. Fuming. So very vexed. Let it out, Liverpool. Wallop somebody, wallop each other. Let some heat out of the hothouse.
Sort it out, lads. I’m bang into this till May. You are too. All of you. That’s Kloppo’s deal; that’s the covenant. It’s one I wholeheartedly support. It’s the only way it works.
Up the battering each other in Scapegoat Hill Reds.
(To be clear, Scapegoat Hill is an actual place. Just outside Huddersfield. Google it if you don’t believe me. It isn’t just the place everyone is [presumably] currently posting on social media from.)