There is one record I want breaking – the 30 years it would be between league titles.
Liverpool Football Club have never gone as long between winning the league since the establishment of the club in 1892 than the gap currently is.
When they ran that chart of total points in English football’s top flight on Twitter the other day, one of those charts which grows through years, one of my takeaways was that in about 1958 Liverpool were still top six since association football began in this country.
There is a perception around Liverpool that just because Bill Shankly found the club in the Second Division when he arrived it had been forever thus. This is nonsense. One of the reasons Shankly came to Liverpool is because they were a very serious proposition – a sleeping giant. They had them in 1959 as well.
We have never been so long without lifting the prize which says you are the best of English football’s best. We won our first title in 1901 and since then there has never been a drought like it.
If this Liverpool side can break that record, can make that stop then they are the ones that will do for me. They know that. This manager knows that. These players know that. They know the seriousness of the task and that it really is 38 cup finals.
Thirty-eight cup finals. This is a cliche which has so rarely actually been true. No side has ever lived 38 cup finals like these lads have. Given what happened with Manchester City last season I reckon these lads have been playing cup finals since the clocks last went forward. Their ground state is cup final. They dial down from there.
I think they could well be the ones that do for us. They could well prove to be the most our boys.
There is a desire among commentators and rival supporters to act as though this is all too easy for Liverpool, as though the standard of the division is in some way up for question. I wish somebody would tell me this and convince me of it. I’ve spent the last four months living every kick, because most of the time every kick has needed to be lived.
Liverpool may well have won 20 games from 21 but their goal difference is of a side who have won 15 – absolutely brilliant, perfectly respectable but not something obscene, unlike the points total. They get the job done but the point is that there is so often a job to be done.
The reality is that Liverpool are digging deep every single time. They are so rarely gliding through games, gliding away from opponents. They have to work for what they get. That was as true today as it was against Sheffield United.
Unlike Sheffield United (who are two points clear of Spurs I hasten to add) Tottenham are capable of landing a blow. They land more than one. They have a plan and they stick to it, phase it through the game. It isn’t a perfect plan, it relies on riding luck as and when, but it is a relatively tidy one and had you offered them -1 on 75 they would have taken it.
From there they are the side most worthy of a goal. Football sometimes works like this. These two sentences are true…
– Liverpool deserved to be two or three goals clear by 70 minutes.
– Tottenham are worthy of an equaliser last 20.
Goals are rare – forgive me if I might have mentioned this before – which means that games can occupy a number of states simultaneously. There is even an argument (not one I agree with) that Liverpool deserved to be punished for being so aware of their superiority to Tottenham by the 70-minute mark.
Some football matches become Schrodinger’s cat. The game is both alive and dead. Both sides should have one more goal, both sides should be punished. Football matches like these are quantum. They aren’t one story, they are six or seven. Facts are lazy and facts are late. Facts all come with a point of view, facts don’t do what you want them to.
This is true before Roberto Firmino’s goal. Had he not scored there would have been talk of Jose Mourinho doing a job on Liverpool when the reality was so very different. The game belonged to The Reds. They should have scored first half, and when they did the story is of Liverpool being the better side. They should make it two.
On an evening when Mo Salah’s touch is beyond sumptuous, they don’t make the most of where they are. When Gini Wijnaldum runs midfield, they don’t make the most of what they are. And Joe Gomez eases through a game on a yellow card, yet Liverpool give up chances.
We want to say that Tottenham are poor but that just isn’t the case. They are set up to hit Liverpool with a jab and then dance around the ring. They do it reasonably well and they deserve credit.
Jordan Henderson is beneath it a couple of times and is pressed, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is on the periphery and alright, Sadio Mane is doing more going backwards than forwards and neither full back will look back on their final third contributions with pride but – crucially – are always there, never shirking.
That’s this side. Always there. Never shirking. Even when it is too glorious at times, too easy, they rouse themselves to work. Adam Lallana does 90 minutes running in 30. God knows what Henderson or Wijnaldum do.
This performance, this game – a springboard for Tottenham possibly. The late miss was astonishing, a reminder they aren’t messing with an xG of (guessing) 0.73 – they can be missed. But a landing for Liverpool. A moment where one of the threats for the rest of the campaign has been dealt with.
United at home next. Then Wolves away. Not getting any easier but you would still follow these lads to the very jaws of hell and beyond. They are my favourites. I am sure they are yours.
Seasons are quantum. This is the season Liverpool streak away at the top, unimpeachable. This is the season Liverpool grind single-goal victories out.
Twenty-one down. Seventeen to go. Seventeen to the one record we want. To the one moment we want. We will (Hiya John) – like Michael Atherton playing cricket, like Steve Graves playing shuffleboard – we will get them in singles as it is the only way to do it. Today a single. Next Sunday a single. The Thursday that follows a single.
Give me that record, just that one; give me that dance, that scream, that kiss; give me that moment of sheer bliss.
Only one record counts, and we with our glorious one game at a time Reds have taken another massive step forward towards it.
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Another game that feels like a huge win. One or two moments where Spurs should draw level. They don’t have the composure or class. Though they stretch liverpool at times during the second half. Its ok when you got attackers who can play back as well as Sadio Mane.
It could have been more and would have been if required. Nobody said it was gonna be easy, why should it be. These lads have no difficulty dealing with history.
17 points ahead of City with 17 games to go!? Come on! Let’s say it already, Neil! These amazing, sumptuous lads broke the record! There you go. :D
Why do you feel the need to saying anything of this nature?
This is just a comment to appreciate that wonderfully woven “Crosseyed and Painless “ quote.
Fantastic article as ever Neil. If it stays like this (the gap between us and City) then it’s just 12 more games. Just 12!
Brilliant summation Neil.
And the reason that Spurs don’t get that goal is who they’re playing. Because Son misses knowing he only gets one chance to score against the European & World Champions with that big bastard in goal. And Lo Celso misses because he knows it’s his big moment, but it’s against the European & World Champions. Against any other team they get a draw. But not against the European & World Champions.
This team is an absolute joy.
Every game I watch them play, I see something new and beautiful.
I’ll be seeing David Byrne on Broadway in two weeks. I’ll pass on your theory of the relativity of football matches. Facts.
Great writing. Just wanna say that finals are nervous affairs and over the years we have been in one or two. I do not enjoy the finals themselves more the occasions beers travel etc etc and the eventual winning.We as you say have 38 finals to play. We all enjoy the occasions but we all are acutely aware of our roles to play . Get behind this great wonderful team and club of ours. Enjoy it at the end . Every game at Anfield I sense a real togetherness, same as travelling to finals . Them against us . Well fuck ‘ them ‘ it is about us no t them. This team is an absolute pleasure to watch but the nerves still remain until that final whistle. Onwards to the next final . Ynwa
Every match at Anfield needs European semi final night decibels from here on. Starting next Sunday. These are the days we dreamed of but feared were never coming back.
“Life is a present. We must have fun with it and entertain.”
Jurgen Norbert Klopp
Watching this game, I got a feeling that we might be taking things too seriously and even Klopp needs to be reminded of that. The metaphor of a relentless march has been a good one for us to get to this position. But, at some point, we need to take in the view from the summit. To do a little happy dance about where we are, how we got there and the records we broke while doing it.
Perhaps TAW can estimate for us when it will be appropriate for us to do so without losing momentum. Not sure what the mathematical formula should look like but hopefully then we can fully emotionally appreciate this magnificent season without tempering our expectations and warning ourselves about the dangers of overconfidence.
We need to print T-shirts with “38” and an * on them and wear them with pride and self-deprecation. We need to have fun.
I miss the swagger of early “Heavy Metal” Klopp. “Just Get the Job Done” Klopp has been fantastic at raising the kids, building the club and collecting points. I hope I get to see “Let’s Talk About Six, Baby” Klopp soon.
Perfect Love drives out Fear.
Our injured are returning. The dreaded schedule is clearing.
Mancs up next at Anfield. Let’s have fun like we did in the League and FA Cup Derbies. A bit of swagger and a lot of love.
We got the “let’s talk about 6” klopp after we won the trophy. We’ll get the “let’s talk about 19” klopp after we win the league. In the mean time I’m more than happy with the “just get the job done” klopp. You win nothing by dancing & acting the goat. Let’s just stay focused.