LIVERPOOL were fucking crap tonight.
Immediately after typing that the realisation hits that this is exactly the sort of writing which means that yours truly isn’t about to be offered Barney Ronay’s column at The Guardian. We could find a wry way around the whole notion. Clever words. But the reality won’t shift — Liverpool were fucking crap.
It’s absolutely soul destroying. In more than one sense this is Liverpool’s worst performance/result of the season. The facts are these — you can play perfectly well against Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur and lose. That’s football. You can also play reasonably well against West Brom and draw. But to be so lacking in spark, inspiration, brio and sheer excitement is not being good enough.
Ben Foster has not had a game he tells his grandchildren about. Instead Liverpool have limped towards his goal and if anything Ahmed Hegazi goes to bed wondering why he didn’t make it 0-1 rather than priding himself on his performance. His tackles weren’t death defying; they were mundane.
Mundane covers much of the game. Liverpool were drab, Liverpool were ordinary, Liverpool were one paced. Liverpool showed nothing upfront which is fine because they offered less than nothing from centre midfield. Watching the speed the ball failed to move at was the biggest issue of the evening. Christ alive did Liverpool dwell on the ball.
There’s a train of thought knocking about that Jordan Henderson isn’t in Liverpool’s best midfield. Tonight should simply derail that train though it obviously won’t. The reality is that Liverpool have four centre mids who are all failing to make a proper, unarguable case for themselves in the grand scheme of things. This is partially due to what the manager is asking, partially due to shortcomings.
There’s no point in this review where there is a shaft of brightness, a moment of “well, you know what happens next”. Whatever happens next, happens next. What is now four dropped points in two home games does not get alleviated.
Instead we get to shrug and remember if Liverpool fail to meet their objectives. This is the issue with the manager’s highwire act; if there are mitigating factors come the end of the season — your footballers being fucking crap — well no one cares. Everyone remembers you on the wire with the balance beam.
For the second successive game a marginal (at best) refereeing call has led to Liverpool being denied the points. We can tell this story walking. For me, it’s a goal. That doesn’t matter, not in the slightest. It’s understandable if it isn’t, and no one walks out of Anfield feeling hard done to, not really. Instead we stride out of Anfield frustrated.
Last week the manager stressed that his “Fab Four” were nothing out of the ordinary against their own teammates and being fair to them they were at pains to be ordinary tonight. Sadio Mane is simply not playing very well. Philippe Coutinho stank the gaff out this evening. The other two were alright if nothing special. Liverpool have taken their own momentum and sacrificed it. They’ve given themselves a slog.
Watching that tonight was a slog. It was turgid. It was porridge. Being fair it was exactly the sort of performance we’ve grown used to in the last 20-odd years at this stage of the season. Jürgen Klopp and his men aren’t unique. Their shortcomings aren’t there for the first time. These are the shortcomings. And, being fair, these things happen. All our rivals have looked mediocre and dropped points like this recently. They’ve all stank gaffs out. It’s football in an English winter.
But all this doesn’t make it pleasant or acceptable or worthwhile. The facts are these — every point counts, Liverpool have dropped four in two at home and when we’re dragging the carcass up the hill in April towards 80 points with the rest of our rivals this will matter, this will weigh the body down. We’ve seen enough of this thing to know this.
Sort it out, Liverpool. It’s two draws. It’s no defeats but by Christ it has felt like two defeats. Do this the hard way by all means but the hard way cannot be lethargic because that simply doesn’t make sense. It’s time to come alive. Now till Burnley, just come alive. If not then it may well be too much to bear.
Not being good enough is one thing. Being dead from the waist down is another thing entirely. Time to dance.
“…very frustrating. It’s probably our worst performance of the season.” 😩
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 13 December 2017