JAMES Milner tackles their lad.
James Milner tackles their lad this morning when he has his breakfast.
James Milner tackles their lad while he packs his oversized wash bag.
James Milner tackles their lad from the minute he was born to the second the freekick is given. He has lived his whole life to just tackle their lad at that moment. He has pictured tackling their lad for eternities. Galaxies have exploded, all human life has evolved and become extinct and James Milner is both tackling their lad and picturing doing so.
That moment was the moment where I was reflecting on Brighton home and away against our rivals last season and how frustrating they could be. It was the moment I was beginning to think we could be in for the longest possible afternoon.
James Milner tackles their lad and Liverpool score. From the minute he wins his tackle there is an inevitability about events. For the tackle James Milner should be given:
– the assist.
– the freedom of the city.
– his Sunday dinner in a choice of Liverpool restaurants.
– the right to decide what the dressing room listens to for the next week.
– Maghull. If he wants it.
Flash, flash and there it is. Salah off the post or as near as dammit for it not to matter.
Then he celebrates. Then he prays. Then he pumps his fist staring at the Lower Kemlyn/Centenary/Kenny Dalglish. He pumps his fist looking at me or as near as dammit and we lock eyes, or we don’t, and we are thinking Manchester City drew. Liverpool lead. Everything is vital in every sense of the word.
Man City drew.
Listen, I do this thing. Two things. Both in my head.
Thing one: while I do day-to-day tasks, I do this thing where I have imaginary conversations with the Liverpool manager. It has never been as bad as this, not since 2008 with Rafa Benitez. Maybe never as bad.
I consult Jürgen Klopp. I wonder what he would make of x, y or z. Today we had a lovely big chat about how into Wolves/Man City I should be. We should be. Should we see it as an adjunct to our game? Should we focus on The Reds? Jürgen concluded that we should for now see this all as part of the season’s rich tapestry, as the adventure.
Reader – I went berserk when Willy Boly scored. I kicked every ball of that last five. Manchester City have now dropped 1/7th of the points they dropped last season. That that is bananas isn’t our fault.
Thing two: I brush my teeth and think about the title. I hold a door open and think that is the behaviour of champions. I lie in bed and think about how it would be in May if. If. If. If.
Everything is if. Nothing is when. If.
Send me on a night out and ask me what I would do if it happened. I have plans. Documents. A desk drawer full of contingencies. If. If. If. If.
Yearning on a large scale can make history. The yearning is palpable now and it isn’t even September yet. But by Christ it is fun. It is vital. It is what it is to be alive. Yearning on a large scale can make great nights out.
We’re going to have a lot of them.
I was umming and ahhing about whether or not I was going to go to town.
Then Virgil van Dijk rolled it back to Alisson Becker. And he dinked it, resplendent in yellow, over the onrushing player’s head and controlled it, and you know what, nothing may ever be the same again.
On an evening where much was tinged beige — as it has to be from time to time — it was a technicoloured dreamcoat of a moment. It was what it was to be alive.
Not long after Trent Alexander-Arnold pinged it sweeter than you have ever seen. Earlier, Gini Wijnaldum dribbled past four doing keepy-ups. Liverpool never hit the heights while winning but they are such scamps. They fizzle. Your blood does the same.
Hero worship is a strange thing when you are 37. There was a point in the second half where two of their lads walloped Milner in close succession. The ground was incensed. How dare you hit our heroes like that? The Mancunian referee didn’t give a card for the second.
The curve goes on for so many of these Liverpool players. Twelve months ago juries were out all over the shop. Now the question is which of them you love the most.
It needed graft. Because at times Liverpool hadn’t quite gelled. Because Brighton are a well-organised outfit. Because you can’t win 4-0 every week, it needed graft and it needed care and it needed seeing out. It needed love. Liverpool loved their three points James Milner’s tackle and Mo Salah’s whip-crack finish had given them. They sailed those points home, held gentle between big hands. They understood the delicacy of the arrangement. They never sat back — the left back pops up inside right in the box with 10 left on the clock — but nor did they overcommit. They understood the best way to win 1-0 was to look like winning 2-0, something that has been true of football matches since the very dawn of time.
The love to work remains the best and finest thing about this Liverpool side. That and their sense of mischief. They know and believe that exuberance married to graft doesn’t do the job. It is the job. It is vital. It is what it is to be alive. It underpins the worship and the imaginary conversations and the life lessons.
Three down and 35 to go.
Be scamps, Liverpool. The hardest working scamps we have ever seen.
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“Winning ugly”. We are doing it now, consistently.
Nice to see. 35 League games left and they won’t all be scintillating performances.
Champions know how to scrap. We are showing it right now.
Last thing to do is improve our record against the big boys.
Put down markers against the top6.
Winning ugly is important but it doesnt make you champions. Champions always have a couple of 88min+ winners in them. Glad we haven’t needed one yet but if we tick that box in the next few games I’m going to ask the bookie to pay out on my bet.
Brighton played really well. Thry were effective at breaking up our play and looked threatening without actually threatening to score. However in the few moments when the ball was longing around our area or thry had a header our defence and goalie did just enough to earned 2 extra points than we would have got in this game if last season’s team had played today. Well in reds.
3 to 4 years team building for the title. 5 years for the Champions League. Doing well though. Milner tackles like he’s from Leeds. As he is. God, I miss the old enemy. Great stubborn footballers. Good write up.
Nice one, Neil. :)
I’m obsessed by this side. It’s a cliche but I’m living every moment of it. I care about everything. I care about who scores against us and even who shoots against us. I don’t want us letting dross footballers even shooting at us. You have to be a proper footballer to even get a shot against this boss side.
Salah and Alisson with the two true moments of quality today. Gomez, Van Dijk, Milner and Wijnaldum with immensely pleasing performances. The passing rhythm and combination play was way off today, which is precisely why the win is so satisfying.
Just imagine how we’ll be when Firmino starts playing with authority and we have the rhythm upfront we did last year … in the mean time, winning ugly? I’ll gladly take it
Anyone else finding it pleasantly disorientating to adjust to this defensive parsimony? A keeper who saves the 88th minute header rather than palming it in. A centre back that heads clear rather than misjudges the flight. A unit that works together to manage a game in its many moments instead of freezing and undoing an hour’s good work. Three games in and already it feels like this. Assured, determined, lethal, obdurate, calm. Astonishing.
As you’ve said before Neil, moments are what score or stop goals. Moments win matches. Moments accumulate points. Moments decide where a team finishes. Moments win pots. Over a long season, moments can be forgotten.
Two moments yesterday. Jimmy Milner’s tackle and Becker’s save. Who knows how important those moments will be in the final analysis, but this team is all about moments. Strap in and enjoy the ride.
Totes your best write up to date. And I’ve read a lot of them about a lot more exciting matches. Kudos Neil and cheers mate.
All of that. 5 tough games ahead. A chance to lay some solid foundations. If.
Ffs Neil, with writing like that, there must be loads on here thinking….’has he been talking to my inner-Mrs, how else would he know that? I wouldn’t blab these thoughts, but she would, the mare..’
Superb stuff Neil, what next, a ‘Kopite Catch 22’? Maybe, an ‘L4 Donny Darko’ or, better still, a ‘Mann, (Treaure), Island’?. How about ‘The 39 Steps- to me seat on the Kop’?. Could happen lad, there’s power in yer pen…just ask any of us!
Watched the replay of the game as I missed it. I can see what supporters were saying about the doubts in the latter half of the game. Closing shop was well executed.
Yeah I know, it’s only the 3rd game and still very early days, but it’s starting to feel like the supporters can trust this team to do the job.
Winning ugly is what many of us have harped about, yet always seems to allude the masses, and Jurgen for some reason.
As Liverpool supporters we’ve been mentality scarred numerous times over the decades, but we remember what winning consistently was like before that.
Leicester are probably going to have a few surprises for the Reds, but winning ugly or otherwise should continue to be the mantra and mentality against that lot.