“DON’T shoot,” says Ben Johno.
The ball goes to Daniel Sturridge.
“Don’t you fucking shoot either,” I say.
The “r” of either leaves my mouth as the ball hits the back of the net and even in Head Of Steam in town everything is pandemonium. All I can say is “oh my god.”
Oh my god.
What a goal that is. What a goal. It is hard to imagine anything quite like it. Right now it is my favourite Liverpool goal ever. Come next May it could well be one of our most important.
The beats. The story:
- 2012. He turns up. He’s a football genius.
- 2013-14. He’s so important to us, it is just that Luis Suarez is Luis Suarezing.
- 2014-15. He gets injured and is never the same again.
- It never quite takes flight for him since the Europa League final when he scores one of the great lost Liverpool goals.
- He goes to West Brom last January. He is done as a Liverpool player. Everyone knows it.
- He comes back in July.
- He does the summer. He does the pre season. He looks his manager in the eye. His manager looks him in the eye. And they know.
- He scores first day.
- He scores first Champions League game.
- He scores midweek.
And then he does that. He does that. He knows, and he knows, and he knows, and he does that then. He makes it 1-1 from a million miles. He strikes that not as a shot in the dark, but because he knows he is capable of it.
It is one of the great Liverpool goals. It is Sturridge and, as discussed before, we shouldn’t have favourites. The 11 should be our favourite. But he is my favourite, my very finest, the man I go to the ends of the earth for. The most marvellous, broken man who reminds us of our own humanity, our kindness and brilliance. When he does that he is the biggest star in the whole wide world. He is Beyonce in Lemonade. I would always get in formation.
The whole wide world is a thing. What a game of football that was. Tonight there is every chance we watched two of the best six sides on the continent. More things. More beats. More sheer adrenaline.
There is this thing where we know one of the reasons we watch the best footballers on the planet is the television money. And the coverage is phenomenal. Look me in the eye and tell me that BT and Sky aren’t adding to our knowledge and understanding of the game in both tactical and human terms and I will call you a liar.
We are brilliant at The Anfield Wrap, we’re the best. But they still find ways to take your breath away, these people. They find ways to make you think and reason and feel, that stun me and I am *good* at this, I assure you.
But. But, but, but. But part of me wanted our run last season on terrestrial television. I wanted the country at large to watch this Liverpool team, the country at large to appreciate their brilliance. I wanted the neutral to become the opposite, to become a Liverpool supporter. I wanted the neutral to appreciate the speed Liverpool play at, to appreciate what this game is.
Fucking get in Daniel Sturridge ❤ pic.twitter.com/mt2t8zbySi
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 29 September 2018
Tonight. Tonight was the greatest imaginable advertisement for the game as it is now imaginable. Tonight’s first half was one of the quickest I have ever seen, but at no point did the technical ability drop. These were the two best in the world knocking lumps out of each other in a manner which prompted and brought about brilliance.
The moment at the final whistle when Jürgen Klopp smiles at Maurizio Sarri is because he knows what that just was. What a thing, what a game. The country should get to see that not just as highlights but to understand it was all highlights, all potential highlights. Every snapshot we were 10 seconds away from a would be highlight.
David Luiz was brilliant. It was his game, all speed, all activity, all ragged edge. He pinged it and won it. He strode forward with the ball and niggled away without it. He lived just there, just in the place where marvellous, maverick footballers live. It couldn’t be too fast for Luiz. You make it faster and he stands up.
Gini Wijnaldum, one backpass aside, is not dissimilar. He wants the big game and the stage. He wants the challenge and the speed. He wasn’t backwards about coming forwards.
These teams reinvent what we want from holding midfielders every week and remind us how limited our perception is of the game’s evolution. Every now and again we see that leap forward that managers see, have planned for. They work out what the next dimension looks like with their players and then they enact it. I mean, wow. We trail in their wake.
Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk showed the needs and wants of centre backs for this Liverpool side. They showed the pace and presence. They were impressive throughout.
I hope I sound overwhelmed. I hope I sound so hopelessly in love with this game of ours. I hope I sound like I think footballers are the very best of us. I hope you hear me here, not some neutral voice, not some dispassionate thing. All this is is passion and all there is is love. All there is is what is brilliant about the round thing on the green thing and aiming for the rectangular thing. All there is is 22 men who tend to be between 20 and 30, and everything else is fluff and nonsense. All there is is our game played so quickly and brilliantly.
But there is also a league table which Liverpool are jointly at the top of. There is the idea that not losing next week means Liverpool finish their first eight level on points, at worst, with last season’s marvellous champions. That is what Sturridge’s finish means — it means Liverpool have the opportunity of succeeding in phase one of this season’s mission.
In the end, Liverpool salvage a draw that has the value of a win. In the end we are spent, exhausted, impressed by their heroes, delighted by ours.
In the end, all was Sturridge. Our most remarkable human from all the best of us. All was Sturridge. All was resplendent. All was our broken magnificent wonder. Hot sauce in his bag.
Deus Nobis Haec Otia Fecit.
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One of your best dissections, Neil
Oh, yes. That piece did exactly what I wanted it to.
I think we all thought don’t shoot… what do we know. Unbeaten and fighting for everything. Just read that the motto was written by a Roman poet named Virgil, bet you he was a big fucker.
I went for a slash as Sturridge was preparing to come on. And as I’m standing in front of the urinal I had an imaginary eavesdropp between Jürgen and Daniel.
Wonder what he’s going to tell him to do? I asked myself. He’s seen our front three toil and stumble throughout the whole match, so he’ll probably tell Daniel just to have a go. “As soon as you get a sight, just have a pop, Dan lad. You can hit them like no one’s business, test the keeper.”
As soon as Sturridge receives that pass from Shakiri, I knew he was going to lash a shot into the top bin. Wanted him to hit it. It happened exactly as briefed, was quite a surreal moment.
Did you see him knock it in or were you still at the urinal at that point?
Was trying not to conjure up any images from Lewis’ post, as it truly is a journey of too much share and then this statement above. :)
Brilliant Mate. Just brilliant
Indeed.. what a battle.
Nice one fella.
That stuff about Dan…..I think I’ve got something in my eye.
The sliding doors moment when Sturridge gets Hodged. If it didn’t happen then, would his body have given out soon after? We’ll never know, but somewhere out there is an alternate universe where Sturridge gets the whole of 14/15. He is glorious. *We* are glorious – just as thrilling as we promised when Klopp visited with his German lads that summer. Coutinho and Sturridge continue in perfect telepathy. Gerrard ends his days covered in glory. Sterling, that pacy little bastard, grows and grows under the wing of his “big brother.” There remains only one Brendan Rodgers, whose fortunes in both the league and Europe are vastly different with all that grace and goal threat rendered incarnate by the presence of Sturridge.
But, just like that, the doors slide closed and none of it happened. The wriggling arms fall silently to the sides. Month upon month of grueling rehabilitation. False dawn after false dawn. A traitorous body at once capable of magnificent feats, but equally capable of gross acts of betrayal.
But is there anything more powerful in human experience than redemption? To fall to one’s knees only to will yourself back up, to refuse your lot and summon up strength that not even you knew was there. To stand up once more, humbled but unbowed.
What an endless gift of human drama it is to witness this club, these lads. Sturridge, the phoenix, among them.
Beautiful comment. Thank you.
Really lovely bit of prose, Walter. Thank you for sharing your gift.
And same to you, Neil. This goes down as one of my favorite Match Reviews and I’ve definitely got something in my eye…
Up the Saved-by-Sturridge Reds.
Fuck me thats some very nice concise poetry there mate
I’m 36. Was 7 when I watched on itv at my aunties place when Michael Thomas score at Anfield. Can barely remember or recall the league win the year after. Was too young over in Ireland with limited watchable tv signals. Pretty much from the souness years I understood. It’s been a long time now. Tonight’s draw really did feel like more than just a draw. Somethings brewing. I like it. Up the fucking reds!
This is brilliant reading. Fantastic…
Is right JONO Top piece mate fucking perfectly sums up The mood x
Yes Neil. Proper writing. Proper feeling. Proper emotion. All the emotion. We watched it in a pub. It went off like its never gone off in there before. It wasn’t just that it was a sublime, late min equalizer that felt more like a winner. It was Daniel. That player who epitomizes the fallibility of our heroes.
At 70mins I turned to my mate and said, we need Daniel. We need someone with magnificent feet and incredible technique. We need genuine quality. With more than a dash of self-belief. I wasn’t even sure who should come off. Then the commentator says Daniels coming on. But it turns out to be Naby. So its not going to be Daniels night. But Jurgen was listening. And Daniel was listening to Jurgen…. and we all prayed for a moment of divine intervention. And it arrived.
What a goal. What a moment. What a player.
This is why we follow these Reds. For moments of sheer, unadulterated, unbridled infantile joy. Joy. Joy. Joy. And embraces with random fellas.
That lad who ran on during the goal celebrations wearing AM95s… brilliant!
Dance, Dan, wherever you may be,
Home or away, Danny dances free,
And he’ll lead us all wherever we may be,
When he scores the goals for the LFC!
I first wrote this is 2013… but, boy, does it deserve a dust off!
He danced at United and he danced at the Bridge.
Broke bitter hearts with the Dan-i-el Sturr-idge!
Down at the Cottage, Danny scored all three,
And he danced again for the LFC!
Excellent write Neil.
Indeed what an advert for the beautiful game. End to end attacking play, no onfield tantrums and theatrics, Hazard and Van Dijk oozing majestic class, both sets of fans chanting and singing till the very end, two magnificent goals (tho I thought Allison should have saved it) and best of all for me two passionate quality managers at the final whistle embracing each other in deep mutual respect.
@John Peet I agree with you.
Great piece Neil. I appreciate you writing about Sturridge in the way he deserves to be written, unlike the myriad justification pieces of Henderson and Lallana as if they were Gerrard, Daglish, Souness, etc.
For me, Sturridge will always be above Mo Salah and Mane. He is in the mold of O Fenômeno, Ronaldo, no not the metrosexual cry-baby at Juve.
Credit to Klopp for not giving up on Sturridge.
Sturridge has similar attributes – class, instinct, confidence, selfishness and movement towards goal. If he wasn’t hampered by injury, he had speed to boot to. Watch Ronaldo’s games, especially the earlier ones to see what I mean. Ronaldo decides to go for goal and he does just that.
I don’t know what’s gotten into Mo or Mane. The front three are creating chances, but unable to put them away as easily as last season.
Maybe it’s the Mickey Mouse awards they’ve been showering on these two, or maybe they’re just good enough to function well when they play as a team.
Back to Sturridge – he seems beyond all that. He came in last night and decided he was going to score. That’s all. Mo and Mane have been undecided and it will cost us important games, if Klopp doesn’t sort out whatever it is that’s keeping them from realizing their full potential.
Also there was a big swing in momentum as soon as Shaqiri and Keita came on, you could see the difference they make. It felt like we would be scoring and maybe winning. Shaq and Keita are quick, creative, bold and in form. They will be better over time if Klopp can rest Henderson, Mo and Mane, and maybe Firmino.
Well done Reds and away supporters. Not easy to go to the Bridge and come away with what felt like a victory point.
Napoli is going to be tricky. Their loss against Juve shouldn’t be underestimated. Looking forward to the game.
So after Saturday’s game praise for our back up players who you questioned on Wednesday night… Hmmm! Perhaps Jurgen knows exactly what he is doing.
@J Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post.
Yes, I did question the back up players but it was in context to how many changes Jurgen had made, since it also involved players who have not had much game time (Moreno, Migs, Matip, Lovren, Fabinho).
These are the backups I, and many supporters don’t think are ready to take on full games if the first team players are injured/sick for extended periods of time.
I also stated that Sturridge, Keita, Shaq had much to offer, and showed it after coming on in the second game against Chelsea. They offer more guile, creativity and goals than Milner, Gini and Henderson will going forward.
‘Don’t ask me, what you know is true
don’t have to tell you, I love your precious heart..
We could live, for a thousand years
But if I hurt you, I’d make wine from your tears
I told you, that we could fly
‘Cause we all have wings, but some of us
Don’t know why…
I think this song is a poetic version of another great piece of yours, Neil.Great stuff!
This is the beauty of Sturridge, and his greatest flaw.
The fact that he is broken, the fact that he is as fragile as fine glass is what makes him more special.
I recently went to the Ulster American Folk park in Omagh, a living history museum, where the late 18th and early 19th century is brought to life. One of the main attractions is the Blacksmiths forge, where the master artisan wows the visitors with making items out of iron.
On my visit he made a razor, a cut throat razor, sharp as can be, slicing paper as easy as it cut the air.
And then he broke it.
Shattered it. In to little pieces. That brilliant, sharp razor.
And he remade it.
Stronger, better, but still brittle….
Bravo Daniel. Bravo.
It takes a certain kind of footballer to hit the bar with sumptuous strike in midweek and five days later arrow precisely the same shot into the toppest of top corners.
Has a football ever been kicked so perfectly into the top corner? Has that bit of the top corner ever actually been hit like that?
How do you even do that? Zero back lift. Nothing. Just one swing of the left boot.
Talent alone is what draws you back in with Sturridge. He’s an elite level forward and we have the luxury of bringing him off our bench. Every single person thought he was finished when he went to West Brom but once again he’s drawn us back in. Every goal he scores takes me back to 13/14.
Great bit of writing. I’m a Chelsea fan and had my Anfield season ticket holding brother down with me to watch the game on tv in tense respect for each other. Sturridge scores, I watch victory fall away, but really, so what? Brilliant goal, equally brilliant game with both sides playing to their strengths and not seeking to nullify the other. No player had a bad shift on either side. Loved the interchange between Sturridge and Hazard at the end. If only football was always that good and that balanced.
Over here in The Netherlands, sat on the sofa, watching the match with my lad, 12. “Don’t shoot,” he says. Two seconds later, it went off over here. Mayhem. We’re a country away from our boys in red, but only in miles, not reality