NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 1, 2017: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson and Dejan Lovren applaud supporters after the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St. James' Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

THERE are days when it just gnaws and gnaws and then suddenly kills.

There have been existential masterpieces which cannot match the sheer profound sense of desolation that last 10 minutes had for Liverpool and the worldwide diaspora of supporters. Feeling both young and old, the sheer impotent fury of the young man and the absolute sense of loss of the widow clashing together, not knowing whether to throw things or collapse; fight the world or submit to it; scream defiance over here, mewl head in hands over there.

It’s only a game, it’s only a job.

There are days when everything degrades in front of you. A football team deservedly and remarkably lead but they cannot hold that lead or extend it. The break comes and they manage to get worse. Substitutions are made and they manage to get worse still. Almost everything that happens in the game weakens them, like they have a half life rather than a lifeline, every event leading to them becoming half as effective and the first event is actually scoring a goal.

It shouldn’t be like this, of course it shouldn’t. Liverpool get their opener and they should kick on but instead a simple ball down the middle undoes them. And knocked off their tightrope they cannot ever properly climb back on and walk unafraid again, instead they stutter as they step. That they are unlucky doesn’t matter. Hard luck, hard lines, hard cheese. The point is that it is hard. Everything worth working for is hard.

It’s only a game, it’s only a job.

The goal is righteous, biblical in its glory, a shot where one shouldn’t be but of course is. It goes the wrong side, the goalkeeper wrong footed by pedigree and it is downright irresistible. No forgiveness has been begged for the summer and nor should it be. Instead just a job is being mostly done, though Philippe Coutinho wasn’t marvellous outside of the marvel, but it is churlish to complain. It was a beachhead, a starting point, something to revel, believe and camp out in all in one. You get one of them outside of your own ground you roll with those punches.

Not for the first time, though — Southampton away in 2016 springs to mind — Liverpool managed not to do that and instead did the opposite. The lead wasn’t reviled in or believed in and they look incapable of camping, certainly when Joel Matip can see the pitch and does absolutely nothing to help the situation. Dejan Lovren disappoints but Matip is desperate until his tackle fails to alleviate the panic, instead the ball trickling into the corner.

It’s only a game, it’s only a job.

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 1, 2017: Newcastle United's Joselu celebrates scoring his sides equalising goal to make the score 1-1 during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St. James' Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Second half there isn’t enough from Liverpool, nothing which allows them to feel properly hard done to as a group of 11. Not a thing which should have them mewling as we are left doing. They couldn’t rise above the melee as they managed last week against Leicester. Chaos wasn’t to be tamed. It wasn’t a question of desire, just that of quality.

Second half Liverpool weren’t quite good enough, however much they may have wanted it. This should be the most startling realisation and it is this which brings on the desolation. This isn’t the first time and it also isn’t the last or final time in that they are more than capable of improvement, but it does no one any favours not to act as though improvement isn’t required. It is. Liverpool are neither attacking nor finishing well enough.

You might not like that. They aren’t controlling games well enough nor are they dictating tempo well enough. You might not like that. They aren’t defending quite well enough in general nor are they dealing with scenarios well enough. You might not like that either.

The point is this: Liverpool aren’t playing well. There isn’t an area of the side which couldn’t improve as it stands and that improvement doesn’t need to be from outside. It can — and needs — to come from within. The manager doesn’t like focus on transfers, well, I agree with him. So be better with the lads who are there. Make them better.

I know it hurts, I know it is hard. I know the ball needs to hit the back of the net and I know the rub of the green is a thing in football, but also overcoming when you aren’t getting it is a thing too. Mature sides manage it, possibly by being mature.

That James Milner doesn’t feature and that both full backs finish the game on the pitch is a mystery to me. Rafa Benitez spent a game wanting Liverpool to pass to Joe Gomez. There is an easy solution to that equation — remove Gomez. Instead Liverpool found Gomez over and over and the easy thing for gobshites like me to do is criticise Gomez for being a centre back playing at right back. Well, let’s dodge that bullet and instead maybe wonder why that player finishes the game.

It isn’t the first time I’ve seen Liverpool sides do that and wonder why the dramatic change isn’t made — Liverpool at home 2008-9, Arbeloa at right back and Rafa Benitez as manager. Every side that came to Anfield that season left Arbeloa as an option and yet Arbeloa always remained one. It was baffling. See tonight.

It’s only a game, it’s only a job.

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 1, 2017: Liverpool's players look dejected after conceding the equalising goal to Newcastle United during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St. James' Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda) Dejan Lovren, captain Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge

For us this should be a game, be a leisure activity. Yet football doesn’t allow that — the river never stops flowing around your ankles but you remember how it felt, how you watched it slip away in September 2006 into the league title being none of your business. It’s only a game but it was only a game in the winter of 2011 when Liverpool couldn’t score the goals they deserved but everyone told you they would come, that this was the bad patch, that this will turn and by God did it turn in the league that year, it turned for the worst.

Don’t tell me it evens itself out, this game, don’t give me that blather and blarney. Hard luck stories become sob stories, become sobs, just sobs, no story or certainly not one you want to tell or look back on. Seasons get away from sides, it has been forever thus. They get away from managers too. It happened to Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Kenny Dalglish, Roy Evans, Gerard Houllier and Benitez. That seasons are new and fresh and live and don’t care for your sense of narrative and timing is nothing new. They disappear, slippery, crystalline, into the distance, impossible to touch, too shiny to stare at.

For them it should be a job, a way of making money. They get paid for this. They are handsomely rewarded. But the thing is you know it isn’t. In the same way they bounced out of Leicester you know the trip back from Newcastle is 14 lads hurting and another one or two (James Milner maybe) planning on having a chat with the manager asking what it takes. But we need them to be professional, to not hurt too much, to get beyond it and move along. We need them to stay in the moment, free of context.

We need what happens one week not to impact the next because right now that doesn’t look the case. Right now they look and feel unlucky and that is downright unacceptable. Hard luck, hard lines, hard cheese. We can think it, they can’t. They must shake that off and instead focus on playing every second to the best of their ability not making decisions based upon previous weeks. I wasn’t designed to go so fast, I wasn’t designed to have so much past. Seasons slip and slide because footballers and football managers let them have too much past, let them go by far too fast. Liverpool need to say no to that.

This thing of ours. It’s only a game. It’s only a job. It’s so much more and it hurts, even when, especially when, you don’t lose. It gnaws and gnaws and suddenly kills. But you get to start again. You get another 90 minutes. 90 minutes at the centre of everything, the lads on the green rectangle, throwing themselves into all that matters, 90 minutes with abandon, the greatest 90 minutes of your life.

See you on October 14. Ready to be hurt, ready to be in excelsis deo. Ready to be alive. It should hurt, it should gnaw and kill. But lads, just walk unafraid. Every moment can belong to you if you can stay in it.

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