LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 10, 2017: Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, captain Jordan Henderson and Dejan Lovren remonstrate with referee Craig Pawson after a penalty is awarded to Everton which helps them seal an undeserved 1-1 draw during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton, the 229th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A WIN always helps. And Liverpool didn’t get one.

A win always helps because it helps you shrug off what doesn’t go well; what you disagree with, who didn’t have their best game, what wasn’t right.

It’s another edgy team selection from the manager for a big televised game where a win looked on the cards only for it to be snatched away due to bad luck/officiating. A win would have helped, would have vindicated him, would have been a boost for his team who were vastly superior to their opponents.

A win would also have helped vindicate his decision around the substitutes. Every single one of them looked wrong from the outside. Being fair, subs are a mug’s game on the whole but the frustration wasn’t in who came on, but in who went off. Both Mo Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should have been retained and Dom Solanke lasted far too long.

In real terms, the Liverpool manager will probably be vindicated by the results in the next two or three insofar as he needs vindication. He doesn’t. He’s doing his job about as well as any of his peers are so far this season with the exception of the chap at the Etihad whose side are playing as I type this.

He’s got Liverpool out of their group top and got them playing excellent football on the whole. He’s getting The Reds through their potentially stickiest period of the season and showing how much he has taken from last season and what went wrong. If anything, he may possibly have taken too much from it but that is a conversation for another day which is probably in February.

His team were a bit off the boil. Sadio Mane simply didn’t play very well on the whole, James Milner was anonymous in the centre of midfield, Ragnar Klavan will have, and has had, better days at the back. A win would have helped, a 1-0 when dominant but slightly lacking cutting edge would have been no bad thing. It would have papered over the fact that, of the two key decisions in the match, the one which was under Liverpool’s control Mane got all wrong.

He’s a footballer with so much goodwill in the bank it will scarcely take 10 minutes against West Brom for it to be forgotten. It should be forgotten, like the manager he doesn’t need to be vindicated or forgiven. It was the nadir of a poor performance, but all players, literally all of them, play poorly at times.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 10, 2017: Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Everton's Tom Davies during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton, the 229th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In the second half Liverpool were too casual, too happy to throw balls in and too happy to retain when they could have been looking to expose. This goes right the way across the side, only really Oxlade-Chamberlain had a sense of urgency. Too much was too tame.

Liverpool didn’t think they could get hurt. In what was the second key decision of the game the referee made the point that you can always get hurt. It’s about as innocuous a penalty as you can imagine; it isn’t a penalty and no one in the ground thought it was at the time. I’m with the manager, the captain, the vice captain and the fella who had the penalty given against him. I’m with them because they are right and I am also with them because they are scrapping for Liverpool. They should all do that and things like it more and start making certain officials persona non grata at Anfield.

Indeed a win would have helped for the referee. It would at least have expunged that decision and meant he wouldn’t be called out by the Liverpool manager after the game. Again, well done. Keep doing it if it is what is required.

In truth Liverpool had hard lines. Could they have done lots of things better? Yes, of course. But hard lines happens to everyone at some stage in a season. Liverpool are allowed to win a game like that 1-0. Yet at the minute it seems that isn’t the case.

“A win always helps,” is a phrase my uncle uses. He went to his first game 50 years ago yesterday and he will have been there today. He’s seen enough to know how a season works, how you bounce back from disappointment, how you pull this thing of ours together.

Like much around football, It’s a truism because it is true. A win always helps. But a win isn’t a prerequisite. Nor should it ever be a complete and total precondition. We can still go out and enjoy one another, enjoy the day, enjoy the night. A win always helps but absence of one needn’t hinder. Not hinder Liverpool, not hinder Mane, Klopp, nor you and me.

We’ll always have Anfield as the snow falls. And we have the quest for the season. Liverpool faulter in the winter freeze but we remain on the march. Nobody said it would be easy. A win always helps but you don’t win, let alone win 7-0, every week.

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