WOULDN’T it be great if The Reds just went and won all their games of football?
Wouldn’t it make all of this so much easier, make all of us so much happier? It goes without saying that doing this is a lot easier said, by meffs like me, than done (unless your team is managed by Pep Guardiola, apparently).
So if The Reds can’t win all their games, wouldn’t it be great if they won enough of them to achieve something, some combination of a top four league finish, a run in Europe and maybe a cup to raise in the air?
It’s that dream that Jürgen Klopp and his Liverpool team are currently chasing; to win enough games and accrue enough points to achieve something this season. And it’s that dream that was hampered, however temporarily, by the 1-1 with Everton in the derby on Sunday.
The fact that Liverpool didn’t win on Sunday and didn’t win while also not playing their strongest team, has gotten the backs up of some fans. Some are frustrated that Klopp rotated out two of our most dangerous attackers, as well two of our more dynamic midfield options, despite playing them in the 7-0 stroll against Spartak Moscow and with West Brom to come midweek.
The frustrations are fair enough, and totally justifiable. It’s the second time in short order that Klopp has rotated players for a big game at Anfield, and the previous time only garnered a 1-1 draw also. More than that, this wasn’t just another game, not just another rival rocking up to Anfield. The derby will always be the game that the fans want to win most. As such, they will always demand Liverpool’s best team and their utmost effort.
As fans, we want Liverpool to beat Everton more than any other team. But then we still want The Reds to win the game after, and the game after, and every game until the end of time. As much as we can look to the medium and long term, as fans we are dictated by what we want in the short term. Into these Reds, smash them and let’s worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
The problem is that Klopp and his team don’t just have to worry about the short term, or the medium term, or the long term, but all three at once, all the time. While we get to the end of November, size up the fixture list and puff our cheeks out at the ridiculous relentlessness, Klopp has been losing sleep over it since July.
While on derby day the fans bay for Bluenose blood, Klopp has to balance the importance of Merseyside bragging rights with the fact that the two games league games against Everton will offer the same amount of league points as any other fixture this season. When we complain that Klopp is resting players with only West Brom to come, he’s worrying about having his lads at their best for February 14 in Porto.
It is worth remembering that on New Year’s Eve last year, Liverpool beat Man City 1-0 to go top of the league. A combination of injuries, fatigue and the African Nations Cup saw the wheels fall off our season over the next month and The Reds had to hunker down for a war of attrition to make the top four.
Avoiding that collapse has clearly been on Klopp’s mind from the start of this season. Sunday brought the number of changes the manager has made to his starting 11 to 59 for Premier League games this season. Despite this chopping and changing, The Reds are two points off third in the league and have topped their Champions League group.
Of course, it’s incredibly frustrating for The Reds to only take a point from a game they dominated so totally. If Dejan Lovren does not give away that penalty, Everton would not have scored if the game had gone on until midnight. If Sadio Mane squares that ball, we wouldn’t even have to discuss Lovren (again).
Such ifs and buts are no comfort, and certainly aren’t worth any league points, but such is the randomness of football. That rabble in blue are the only side in England to take points off Manchester City this season. Shit happens, go figure.
The true context of drawing 1-1 at home with possibly the worst side to come to Anfield this season (along with Manchester United) will only be revealed at the end of the season. If we come to do end of season reviews with Liverpool in the top four, having had a belt in Europe and possibly with a cup for the cabinet, a point at home against The Ev will look very nice, thank you very much. If we’re looking back at a sixth-place finish and another wasted season, glances will be exchanged and voices may be raised.
But that is not for us to worry about right now. That is Klopp’s job. It’s his job to chase the dream of finding a way to get those lads in red to win as many games of football as possible. Rotating players and playing the long game is a part of finding that way. All we have to worry about is the next game, the next team, the next win.
Into these, Reds.
“They were there for the taking and we couldn’t do it.” 😩
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 10 December 2017