NIL Satis Nisi Optimum.
Long been my favourite of the football mottos. Only the best will do. Dwell on it. Roll it round your mouth. You can build any organisation around that. You can build a football club around it. Only the best will do.
There wasn’t a lot of Nil Satis Nisi Optimum on show from Liverpool’s visitors this week despite a lot of talk from many quarters who should know better about closing gaps, about a side ready to prove itself at Anfield. The only thing Everton proved today was how much they have to prove. Forget any win at Anfield, win two or three times a season at a top six ground. Any of them. And then we can talk.
When I talk about people who should know better I am talking about Liverpool supporters among us making joint 11s with Evertonian centre-halves and Joel Robles in goal. Our defending and defenders are far from perfect but there is a gulf between what we ask of our defenders and what they can do against those wearing blue, and that gulf was on show today. Everton’s response to their injuries was to protect their own defenders by playing five, to cover, cover, cover. Whereas Liverpool looked after the top scorer in the country. Trusted their lads. Backed each other.
The Liverpool goalkeeper showed himself to be far better than Everton’s Brad Jones tribute act. Simon Mignolet looked, well, classy. Certain. It could be Mignolet’s most impressive performance of the season in terms of doing what is required.
Assurance marked Liverpool’s performance. Across the park Liverpool knew they had the matter in hand barring for 10 minutes after Ashley Williams did Emre Can and the Reds came out of that slump well. It was a terrible challenge by Williams and he wasn’t alone. The Liverpool manager did well to temper his response and calm his lads down from getting sucked in.
There’s been talk recently about this rivalry and how unpleasant it has become. The conditions of it now verge on the unbearable — an Everton side so psychologically weak on the one hand and desperate to demonstrate commitment on the other. A Liverpool end anxious about the loss of the run on the one hand but enjoying crowing so deeply on the other. An Everton end able to show deep respect to Ronnie Moran and then chanting “murderers” in the second half because they see the way this is going yet again. Liverpool’s response… and on we go. The truth of the matter is that that chant is the equivalent of the Williams tackle. “We’re not going to win so leave one on the Red pricks.”
On the pitch Liverpool rose above. Lucas Leiva did the absolute business again. He guided his lads through the 90 brilliantly. Always there to show, always there to double up. The aforementioned Can in the wars but grafting. Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho fabulous scorers.
Liverpool weren’t actually that good. They worked so hard for their crowd and their manager and for each other. They believed in themselves and each other. Everything that matters in a team was there. But at times the raw quality dropped. That didn’t matter. They were just always going to be good enough. You see, Nil Satis Nisi Optimum has a lot to recommend it. It’s the ethos, the aim, not always the outcome and nor does it need to be. Be good enough to be the best. Liverpool Football Club on Merseyside right there. Next eight games though, Liverpool need to show their best.
Next season is the 125th anniversary of there being two teams in the city. There is talk that the kit will be redesigned and it will have the old motto on, the city motto. This:
“Deus Nobis Haec Otia Fecit.”
“God has given us these days of leisure.”
Get that on the kit. It’s Latin for TOWN. Town. Town now, lad. Town now, girl. Town for the rest of your life and these are the days of leisure. Liverpool dominate Merseyside. The city is red and will be till Everton sort their heads out. Town.
Up the Nil Satis Nisi Optimum Reds. If they show their best between now and Middlesbrough it will be good enough.