AND now you are going to believe us.
The game is bananas. Liverpool didn’t deserve to go 1-0 up. Five minutes later they deserve to be 2-0 up. But the second goal doesn’t come. By half time they should have a third, they have the ball in the net twice but they don’t count.
Then second half they start playing.
For 15 minutes they marmalize Manchester United. They take them to the cleaners. They are playing a game that United just cannot live with. We carve them open over and over again.
But the second goal doesn’t come.
It doesn’t come and it drives you mad. You are on pins. You hurt. The nerves hit you and for the first time in so long Anfield is a tiny bit anxious.
Manchester United have a mild resurgence, create some chances and then move the ball around a bit. Liverpool are under it. For reasons that I struggle to comprehend we suddenly are where we are.
It’s where we have been often this season. But rarely like this, rarely when it is an affront it hasn’t been put to bed. Rarely when Liverpool have felt openly profligate at 1-0.
In the middle of the park, Gini Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson put in performances which are off the charts. They run the show.
Wijnaldum has one chalked off and Henderson elicits a magnificent save from De Gea and he can only get it onto the post. The pair look after the ball, prompt and probe. They set a tempo.
Wijnaldum creates so much with his touch and his running. Henderson keeps everyone honest, never stops talking, never stops bollocking. He demands excellence and supplies it over and over again.
Henderson would have deserved that goal. It would have crowned what he has been up to the day Fabinho made his return. He has been the best player in the country for eight weeks, he’s led this historically brilliant Liverpool team from its heart.
He is going to lift the Premier League title. He is going to give it little legs. And he will deserve the honour as much as any.
But the second goal doesn’t come.
Mo Salah spends the game wrestling and scrapping with Luke Shaw. Shaw plays ever so well but lives in the red, lives on a tightrope. He has to play there to keep Salah at bay. But he can’t keep him out of the game. The strength and touch Salah displays through the game is tremendous.
Sadio Mane can’t be lived with but can’t quite get to where he needs to be on the pitch. Adam Lallana comes on and can’t get the pace of it but the pace is changing. The centre backs win their battles barring five minutes where United turn Liverpool around.
Liverpool get corner after corner but get nothing much from them bar that first goal, which is enough in a sense but you want the second.
Manchester United are game. They lack quality and the setup isn’t right but they fight for each other. They fight for Manchester United. Manchester United are worth fighting for. The 20 times Champions of England.
They are our biggest rivals in the sense of being our rivals and being a club whose name rings out. But they need to sack that manager soon. He’s an affront. He shouldn’t be allowed. We’ll laugh at them and him but surely the universe rights itself soon.
The full backs keep overlapping for Liverpool. They make run after run, outside, inside, back post, driving into the box. They never stop. They are trying to force the issue and still manage their defensive responsibilities. They play the big switch a few times. They work Manchester United into the ground.
But the second goal doesn’t come.
God it was nervous by me. It was strange, something that just hasn’t happened. Manchester United means something. The fact their neighbours dropped points yesterday meant something. To win meant everything in every sense. It wouldn’t do to drop points in front of their end. To concede an equaliser. The pressure ramped up. Liverpool penned back with set pieces.
And then the second goal came. Alisson sends it perfectly. Salah does the absolute business. Slots. A lot happens:
– Salah takes his top off.
– Henderson collapses centre circle.
– Alisson runs the length of the pitch.
– And now you are going to believe us.
Anfield fervent. The song emerges fully formed, from nowhere to everywhere, roared out to our players, roared out in front of them. At 6.20pm on the 19th of January 2020, Anfield calls it, Anfield gives the big one. From 0 to 120mph. Anfield tells the nation. The nation knows.
People piling on one other, everyone at the top of their voice. The thing no one has wanted to say. The unspoken truth. We’ve taken 91 points from the last 93 available. We have climbed the biggest mountain.
Tonight I want to give it all to you. Tonight I want to lay it at your feet.
Tick them off. Clear the hurdles. The work doesn’t stop. We kick off 0-0 at Molineux. We want to win there too.
Believe us. We can have done no more. No one ever has.
This football team is so special. Believe us.
Believe us. The thing we have wanted and craved for so long, the trophy that has us up nights, the promised land we have never quite arrived in, the very last world for Liverpool supporters under 45 to truly conquer is within our grasp.
The second goal comes. And now you are all going to believe us.
We’re going to win the league.
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This entry, Neil, this whole entry. Bless you.
It builds and builds and builds and then it releases, just like the match.
That ending. That beautiful ending. Hits me like a ton of bricks. The most beautiful ton of bricks right in the heart.
“At 6.20pm on the 19th of January 2020, Anfield calls it, Anfield gives the big one. From 0 to 120mph. Anfield tells the nation. The nation knows.”
We, in the rest of the world, know too. Far from Anfield, far from England, in each of our little corners of the world, whether it’s night or day, we know.
And now you’re gonna believe us.
Surely that 120mph was allison too Salah. Yeah
It had to happen sooner or later this season and when that 2nd goal went in it was just an explosion of emotion. Personally I am still pissed at Firmino’s goal not being given as i don’t think it was a foul. Given that there was 4 VAR decisions in 2games against Man Utd this season, every solitary one went their way, 3 of them wrongly. However it was good to beat them. It was great to go 16 points clear with a game in hand. We now need just 30 points from our remaining possible 48 points possible and that’s only if City win all their remaining games. Today we can all smile. Today we can sing such songs about possibly winning the league.
Next up Wolves away. It will be another tough game. Lets hope it’s another 3 points for us.
COME ON YOU BEAUTIFUL, GORGEOUS, SEXY, WONDERFUL, FANTASTIC, MIGHTIEST OF MIGHTY REDMEN.
Lovely piece that Neil – cheers
Neil – such drama and emotions in this article. Excellently written, takes reader through the journey as if we are watching there, live.
Well Done LFC (YNWA) Anywhere!!! To All te Players, Management,Coaching Staff and All concerned at the CluB. Our Best Wishes and everything of the Best for the Games Ahead.
Be and Feel Proud but Stay Humble till the End.
Once there, Won it Al, We can then CeleBrate !!!!
Keep Marching On!!!!!?
Neil for poet Laureate ! The Shakespeare of Anfield Road !
Not sure I’ve ever commented on an internet post.
I’m too middle-aged.. have too many fights with my phone-addled teenagers over theirs..
But I’m commenting now… and copying every Red friend who doesn’t already read every word you type..
9.13am in Midleton, Co.Cork.
Singing it my head.
Was waiting waiting for you to say it’s done.. I guess it’s done.. can we enjoy it now?
Someone finally said its done.. we can enjoy it now.
See you on the 9th.
Beautiful stuff as usual Neil.
I think I finally feel brave enough to say it.
It, the second goal, brought tears to my eyes. It’s been, by anyone’s standards, a tough 18 months for me and for my family. This is real life stuff.
But this club, manager, squad, indeed this special group of supporters, the Wrap, football, all have helped no end in getting me personally through it. Football is not important, but, as Tim Vickory often quotes, “It’s the most important of all the unimportant things in life”. It’ isn’t just 11 fellas chasing another 11 fellas and a ball around a pitch is it. We all know it. It helps us in ways which are sometimes daft but it does.
Nice one Neil, yet again, brilliant writing. See ye in Cork next month.
What a time to be alive. I’m 49, I’ve seen and probably not understood the achievement of winning a league title because back then we simply were winning it a lot. I’ve been through the lean years with my fellow reds old and new and never before have I witnessed a sensation like this. I live 300 odd miles away and have never felt so connected before, I get to go once or twice a year I’m saving to take my two boys up (hospitality our only option) but it’s worth every penny.
We are fucking awesome, up the reds!
I read this last night and I was still a bit giddy and amped. Having re-read it now, both the true significance of the match and the glory of this write-up have sunk in deep. I had to listen to the second half in the car: longwave, the sound ebbing and fuzzing, like I was tuning into a rave taking place in another dimension, except with John Murray speaking over the top. It was doing my nut in. Every time we attacked it sounded like we’d scored except we hadn’t, every time they put two passes together it sounded like they were almost going to score, but they couldn’t. It would have been a travesty, one befitting their graceless and flailing manager, but sometimes the world rights itself. That second goal – what a release. What a rush. No wonder the chorus rose up, defiant. If we’d just bopped Norwich two-nil it wouldn’t have been aired, most likely, but in those circumstances? Inevitable, and damn right too. All I’ve wanted was the league, but dare we say it, we could actually write a season for all times here, one no other team is likely to ever match. A few favourable draws and we could do it. And if we don’t – still the best ever, in loads of ways, in all the important ways. Finally, the waiting is over. Keep ’em coming lads, glory awaits, it’s just a few steps away.
Brilliant article brilliant game brilliant result brilliant season !
Beautiful Neil, just beautiful!!! The only downside for me was VAR ruling out a magnificent goal from Bobby!! I’m 48 years old and remember the glorious days of the 80s and of course our last title win! I’m not an emotional person but I feel very emotional now, it’s close, I don’t know how I will feel when we do get over the line but all I know is I’m going to be so happy and proud of our team and our club! Klopp is special, his words will stay with me forever “we must not forget, we are Liverpool”. His leadership has led us on this glorious path… what a manager, what a man!! Amen
Think for a moment of the import around that conversation in a Blackpool hotel between Klopp and Van Dijk. In a sliding doors moment VVD goes to Man City, they become the greatest in history, but Klopp holds those doors ajar with full force of his devastating brilliance, devastating charisma, and the legendary pull of Anfield nights.
With that chat, so full of import, Liverpool go from the most exciting team in football, the best on a given night, to simply the best team in football on the planet, having a go not just at Pep’s Man City side, but his Barcelona in their prime.
Van Dijk allows the fullbacks to do what they do, the midfield to compress and give full flower to the most underrated part of our squad. All of which allows a vice-like control over games, no longer reliant on scoring bucketloads, which we can do but without the same sure consistency.
Van Dijk brings centreback partners who are extremely good into the most elite echelons of defending, allows Alisson the security to go from the most promising GK in the world to the best.
30 years in the coming, but that conversation in Blackpool not only stopped this from being an era defined by City to one defined by the six times Champions of Europe becoming the stuff of Merseyside legend. YNWA
On the group text with some fellow Reds, I pointed out that (while not technically correct for a number of reasons), many people claim that Gerrard slipping against Chelsea was the moment LFC lost the 2013/14 title race. Likewise, while not technically correct, I reckon Mo’s 93rd minute goal will come to be widely regarded as the moment LFC’s title drought came to an end. In the same way the haters have spent the past 5 years posting that image of Captain Fantastic on all fours as Demba Ba races onto the loose ball as symbolising LFC perennially falling short, one photo will surely become synonymous with the promised land finally being reached:
Mo Salah, shirtless, back turned, revealing the sort of muscular definition that would be the envy of most gym junkies and is probably rivalled only by Ronaldo of the current players in the Big 5 leagues. Rapidly approaching Mo, but frozen forever in time, our keeper- arms spread like an eagle, gloves balled in fists, mouth wide. Further behind him, what appears to be the entire LFC squad on the pitch, all running towards Mo like an army. Further back the crowd is faceless but obvious, both in shadows and in light under the beams of the stadium floodlights. Pure glory, forever captured in just a fraction of a second…
So while not literally the moment LFC clinched the league title, I’m happy for it to be regarded as such- considering who it was against. The fact their fans were the ones privileged to enjoy a front row seat to it happening, after 3 decades of giving us shit is schadenfreude in its’ most delicious form. Only bettered (perhaps) that title #19 could become official at that other ground across Stanley Park. Jab that into my veins, lad!
But Wolves at Molineux are next- and focus has to now be given to doing everything possible to eclipse Arsenal’s invincibles. Clearing the 100 point record. After years of “next year is our year” and “history FC” and “You’ll Never Win Again” and all the shit we’ve copped while Man United, Chelsea and (more recently) City fans have carried on like swinging dicks, I want to not just win the League but rub their noses in it and force everybody- even the most ardent of haters- to admit we’re the best team ever seen in English football. And do everything to match United’s ’99 treble. Time to go all out, one game at a time…
It’s all spine tingling and after a long walk lost in a jungle for years the golden gates of home are suddenly looming into view.
Klopp will have his Ronnie Moran at Melwood keeping them focussed. Nothing won yet. Work hard lads. Keep doing what you’ve been doing. One match at a time. Don’t give them anything. Nothing. Be angry. Play even better. It’s a joy to be alive.