LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 1, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp embraces Lucas Leiva after the 3-1 victory over Everton during the FA Premier League match, the 228th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SATURDAY was enjoyable, for obvious reasons. After days of questioning just how attached my head was following the announcement of Everton’s plans for the Joe-Max Moore stadium (or whatever it’s called), to beat the Toffees in a relatively simple fashion was sweet.

However, there was something else. Something that made the win and performance feel just a little bit better, and initially I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Perhaps it was partly how brilliant it was to win in style as a tribute to the late great Ronnie Moran, or maybe it was to show Ronald Koeman just why his team had every reason to be scared of playing Liverpool and to show the Dutchman ‘what goes on’ at Anfield.

Then it occurred to me. It was simply how glorious it was that an 11 that contained Lucas Leiva played that way and won. An 11 that contained Lucas Leiva was not too negative, it was not too slow in midfield and it did not spend all day giving Everton free-kicks in dangerous positions.

I couldn’t believe the levels of it, if I’m honest. It started on Friday when rumours of the team circulated, but then went into overdrive once the team was confirmed on Saturday morning. I never realised how little some people thought of the experienced Brazilian, but they would have had you believe that merely by selecting Lucas, Jürgen Klopp was handing the initiative in the entire Liverpool v Everton narrative to the Blues. They would reign supreme for the next few decades on Merseyside because Lucas played instead of Divock Origi and Ben Woodburn that one time.

That was admittedly a view only held by a vast minority of Twitterati, but it was an extreme of a more widely held view that an Everton win could signal a potential future changing of the guard, and by playing Lucas, Klopp had needlessly increased the chances of that happening.

Personally, I went into the derby feeling oddly serene. I was supremely confident of a Reds win. Everton had indeed been on a good run but the one time they played away to a good side in that run was their one defeat, a 3-2 loss at Spurs that should have been about 6-0. They showed that day how far away they are from the top six, and I saw no reason other than extra derby motivation why that would change, not least because of our return to form and the fact we’d put two better teams in Spurs and Arsenal to the sword in the last few weeks.

While I was confident of success, I was slightly perplexed that it wasn’t matched by all Reds before the game. There were of course plenty who felt we would have too much for Koeman’s men, but many were raising concerns that this might have been when Everton finally got their inevitable win at Anfield. It will indeed happen at some point in the future, but by that time I’m hoping to be driving to the game in my hover car, parking it as close to the newly built 20,000-seater ‘Sadio Mane Stand’ as possible and sympathising with Reds manager Trent Alexander-Arnold after we’re cruelly robbed by a controversial penalty awarded by the Ref-Bot 3000.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 1, 2017: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold is tackled by Everton's Enner Valencia during the FA Premier League match, the 228th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

So yes, the negativity. While it had been there, bubbling under the surface by those who were trying to lay a few cushions for the outside chance of a most unwelcome fall, it almost led to full on meltdown when Lucas was confirmed in the team, and I couldn’t understand why.

On paper, to me, the selection made all the sense in the world. It was of course forced by the loss of Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson not recovering in time, and so Klopp was left with two choices. To push Philippe Coutinho back into Adam Lallana’s role and pick Origi or Woodburn, or to move Emre Can forward into Lallana’s position and to bring Lucas in to play as the deepest midfielder. This was a Merseyside derby that would need some steel and composure in midfield, with a Reds team somewhat lacking in derby experience, and insufficient in natural leaders without Henderson and Lallana. Lucas, to me at least, was the only logical choice.

Now I’m not writing all this just so I can use hindsight to say “told you so”, seeing as Lucas was arguably the best player on the pitch on Saturday, and vital in the way the hosts completely shut down anything Everton tried, sucking the service to Romelu Lukaku up like a vacuum, ably assisted by Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren.

He made 15 tackles, won 15 aerial duels, made three interceptions, three clearances and four blocks. Lucas was boss. Boss was Lucas. Even I didn’t anticipate him playing as well as he did, but what he did well was everything I would have thought most would expect him to offer.

So what particularly perturbed was before the game, many seemed to focus only on the negatives that Lucas might bring. We were apparently going to be slow and overrun in midfield. We would be too negative and provide no service to the front three. We would concede thousands of free-kicks in dangerous positions because that’s all Lucas ever does. No other defensive midfielders do that apparently, apart from most of them.

This leads me to the wider point, the obsession with team sheets. It’s understandable, I do it myself. The problem comes as a fan where you think about it too much and convince yourself that a certain 11 would be perfect, and then when the manager doesn’t agree, you assume it’s because he hasn’t thought it through as much as you have, or that seems to be the trend anyway. Apparently Klopp didn’t know that Lucas concedes loads of fouls, and that he’s slow, and that he never passes forward, and that Woodburn would definitely have had a blinder and Coutinho would fit perfectly into midfield.

Those last two may well have happened of course, but what did happen was that Klopp showed faith in Lucas and was rewarded.

There is even a real danger these days that people are so enraged by team selections that they can inadvertently have an effect on things. If Twitter explodes before a game because a certain player is selected, and that player sees his phone melting and realises it’s because everyone thinks he’s rubbish and will cost them the game, then that might just affect his confidence and performance. Of course it could also have the opposite effect as it did with Lucas against Spurs when he bossed Harry Kane, and then bossed those on social media who predicted he’d fail.

It’s all part of the Captain Hindsight/grass is greener mentality of football fans. Again, I could well be accused of the same myself in this very article, but it’s rife in football where a manager makes a selection, his team plays poorly, and everyone who didn’t agree with the initial selection uses it as proof that they were right, with no proof that their alternative suggestion would have worked either.

I’m trying not to go as far as saying “Klopp knows more about footie than you, so just pipe down”, but… he does, and he knows these players better than any of us. Pete Krawietz has studied the opposition more than we have, and Zeljko Buvac has spoken to Jürgen about who would and wouldn’t suit the next game. They’ve done far more than scribble down an 11 while not listening in a Thursday afternoon meeting at the office (though if my boss is reading this, I was definitely listening and please just ignore that line in the minutes where I question the merits of throwing Marko Grujic in from the start).

My theory is that sometimes good players play badly, and that them playing badly just means that they played badly, and not because the wrong players were selected and in the wrong positions. They just weren’t very good at the football on the day, and the lads who didn’t play could well have also been not very good at the football on the day.

In all honesty, I’ve struggled to pay much if any attention to starting line-ups since 2005. How a team containing Djimi Traore, Igor Biscan and Antonio Nunez with Anthony Le Tallec, John Welsh and Darren Potter on the bench held and frustrated the likes of Gigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram, Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluca Zambrotta, Pavel Nedved, Alessandro Del Piero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Stadio Delle Alpi still boggles the mind, but sometimes football doesn’t make sense. You just sit there, experience it and try to keep your jaw off the floor.

By all means pick your favourite 11. By all means question selections after a poor game, but I just implore for a tad more humility in doing so.

Of course the irony of all this is that I don’t want Lucas to start against Bournemouth. I want him rested for Stoke, and Trent thrown in against Bournemouth. And anything less than this team and/or three points means I was right and anything else was wrong, so there.

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