WAKING up and it doesn’t feel much better.
Liverpool’s 2-2 draw was the most disappointing of likely outcomes, not least because of the substitution which saw Liverpool shift to a back three/five, saw Liverpool take a backwards step, saw Liverpool yield the initiative to Bournemouth when a third Liverpool goal seemed more likely than an equaliser.
LISTEN. We are not the Liverpool manager; not one of us reading this knows what it is like to be the Liverpool manager and while we live our seasons we don’t have his lived experience, his time working with the players and his football brain. It won’t be a change he has made for no reason. He and his team will have had their ideas and if Liverpool counter attack better it becomes a substitution which even if we don’t laud we can shrug our shoulders about. All of this stuff is easier when it isn’t your job. Most people’s jobs seem easier when it isn’t your job.
But the change did seem to confuse his players and it did knock Liverpool’s momentum. And it wasn’t his last change; well it was his last change. That’s the point. A manager can make a move on 65 and then make another one. He still had two more in his back pocket and while Liverpool were 2-1 in the game it never seemed quite right (though would I be writing this if Josh King steers his effort wide? Probably not. I’d be drinking Aperol Spritz and contemplating a European tour and talking about a scruffy win).
He’s a strange cat this great manager of ours. We’re used to managers who are exceptionally hands-on in one way or another and make the point publicly. I grew up with Rafa Benitez and Gerard Houllier. These were men who had a plan, wanted you to know they had a plan and would execute that in front of your eyes. This great manager of ours doesn’t operate the same way in the most public of spheres though he is clearly exceptionally diligent; last summer’s transfer business and this season’s approach should make that clear. In general his work around substitutes seems occasionally haphazard; haphazardly occasional.
Within this game he made a big, hold change when it wasn’t crying out for one — Philippe Coutinho’s illness not withstanding — and then didn’t make one when lads looked goosed and uncertain. And with a period of reflection…
…I’m alright with it. There are lots of things Jürgen Klopp will do as Liverpool manager that I won’t be behind or like. But I want Klopp to be Liverpool manager and to be himself as he does so. I have said a million times on these pages that we need our Liverpool managers to be themselves. If they start second guessing themselves then we have a problem. Maybe this is Jürgen second guessing himself. We’ll only see that if it becomes a pattern. For now, while losing the points is utterly frustrating I’m sure there is no examination on this page which will be more thorough than the self-examination of Klopp and his staff. They have all the info. They have the football brain. They have the lived experience. They have all that is seen and unseen. We don’t.
We need to find the language and the shrug. Let it be “one of them” — and by God, let it be “one of them”. We have things to do.
Elsewhere, Liverpool need to find ruthlessness and need to find it soon. Chances and chances to create chances were missed. Liverpool didn’t play well but still created more than enough to put Bournemouth to bed last night. Bournemouth wanted to lose that game 3-1 and when that didn’t happen they took the only option that was open to them — draw 2-2. Something which the two sides who lead the league have done well this season is give opposition sides what they want. For all the huff and puff about everyone able to take points off everyone else and for all the talk about Liverpudlian frailties, Bournemouth last night weren’t great in any way and they and their fans would have gone home at 3-1 and wondered about what you can do. They would have said Liverpool were just that bit too good. West Ham earlier this season wanted to do the same thing. Instead they both end up with 2-2 draws because they just aren’t put to bed.
The positives — Coutinho scored my favourite of his goals this season. He scored the goal not of a Brazilian genius, but of a left-sided forward. This is very good news indeed and we could do with more of this kind of thing. Divock Origi got onto the end of something with aplomb and for a while looked at his unplayable best rather than his unselectable worst. Emre Can again got in the thick of the game and personified nuisance in a good way. Nathaniel Clyne was very unlucky not to score a pearler; an excellent save from Artur Boruc.
Liverpool need to take these positives and their tired legs to the Britannia, get all three points and give it the big one. Seven from this nine would always have been good enough.
Up the hard way Reds. Because they are the only ones we have at our disposal.