TAKE a breath.
Be angry with exterior forces later. Do that in a minute or two. But take a breath first, because your take away should be this…
Everton may prove to be the third, fourth or ninth best team in England this season. They are a tidy outfit.
But Liverpool just ran the show at their gaff, in their biggest game of the season, their biggest game in years. There is an enormous gulf between these sides.
Let’s be clear and say that the Merseyside derby must be a nightmare to referee. Simultaneously it must be one of those games that wannabe refs dream of. They must lie awake at night thinking about the chance to embrace the game management challenge of the derby at Goodison or Anfield.
These are bruising battling games and you need to have a temperament of cold steel for this and the eyes of a hawk looking for a field mouse. You can admire that. Big Ols himself does well enough. But he is isn’t helped by the robot we can’t see.
I can be angry with the rules, angry with the VAR, angry with the overgrown infant they have between the sticks, but my god, were Liverpool good in spells. My god, did Liverpool’s midfield show up.
First half Jordan Henderson was just marvellous. He was my favourite, he set tempo like nothing we’ve seen so far this campaign. He was first to everything, only thing on the pitch faster than his legs was his brain. He saw the field, anticipated weakness and responded.
Second though, second we saw Thiago Alcantara get a grip of the game in a way which beguiled and bewitched. Everton had a good 15 and then it was all Alcantara. It was only his third 45 minutes with these footballers in competitive action and he showed the way for Liverpool.
If you came away from the Villa game unsure as to whether or not Liverpool could retain their title, you come away from Goodison Park absolutely certain these Reds will be there or thereabouts.
In the meantime, what you felt was alive.
Liverpool made the game happen at Goodison Park in a way they hadn’t yet under Jürgen Klopp. They left Everton in absolute no doubt. There’s an internet cliche about Everton and a Merseyside power shift. The marvellous Dominic Calvert-Lewin aside, all the power on the pitch is Liverpool’s. Everton feeble in comparison, reduced to bad tackles, to rash moves.
All game Everton were on the ragged edge. You saw it from Allan, from Andre Gomes, from Abdoulaye Doucoure even from James Rodriguez. In the end it is Richarlison who breaks, who throws an absolute stinker in. You only do that if you are second to things. For the last two and a half years Liverpool have been first to almost everything; Liverpool have hardly been sent off, Liverpool have lashed very, very few stinkers in.
The first of the match comes from Pickford. The Everton goalkeeper is, in every sense really, a disgrace. I don’t use that sort of thing lightly. I shrug most things that happen on a football pitch off but for years, actual years, Everton Football Club have deserved better than this clown. What he does to Virgil van Dijk isn’t his first. He left something appalling on Dele Alli when Spurs beat Everton 2-6 and swamped them a couple of seasons back.
Everton were overwhelmed by Liverpool in the early going and the goalkeeper resorts to that. It calls into question the working definition of violent conduct up against serious foul play. For me that should be looked at by VAR, should be reassessed. For Blues who applaud it, not least because it causes an injury to Virgil van Dijk, in the long term they must know he is a liability. He isn’t England’s number one; he isn’t in England’s top five goalkeepers.
Fabinho was excellent as well for Liverpool. It is intriguing how Klopp wanted him to treat Allan the way Liverpool treat Jorginho at Chelsea. They wanted to make him sweat, make him suffer. Allan is stronger than his Chelsea counterpart but less good on the ball. If there is an issue with Liverpool across the whole of the first half it is that they aren’t better around the Everton box having taken Allan out of the equation, having bullied him off the ball.
Repeatedly Liverpool need to make slightly better choices. This was the case at Villa Park as well. I can write at length about where Liverpool’s line is at, about Adrian, about Gomez and Matip but there is a tiny thing for The Reds to work on – it remains taking a breath.
Andy Robertson does it brilliantly today around the area. It isn’t just about working the space and time to look up – it is about then looking up. This is a two-way deal. Liverpool need to be that bit better at knowing and letting one another know.
It’s a shame not to get the three points. A shame not to win a Merseyside Derby under those circumstances. I have yet to see an angle where Sadio Mane actually looks offside. I’d like there to be one. I’d like to be certain but I am very much not. Regardless though, I’ll be fine, you know. You’ll be fine. Liverpool will, trust me, be fine.
But the fact that Jordan Henderson doesn’t get an injury time winner in a 3-2 at Goodison Park, well, that is not fine. It really isn’t. Henderson is the best of us and by us I think I broadly mean all humanity.
There aren’t that many more chances for him to get Steven Gerrard moments. I don’t really want Jordan getting Steven Gerrard moments – that isn’t what it has been about or should be about – but I wanted him to have that one. I wanted him to have snatched the points.
What is very hard to take is the computational cold-heartedness of a system that takes an android mind to games of this kind of passion. The VAR robot robs our captain of his last-minute winner.
Jordan has battled and fought for his right to be here. The robot doesn’t care that the ball has been put into the back of the net by a man that has been handed nothing on a plate, has been doubted at every turn, and whose character has been forged and tested to get him this far. The robot neither knows nor cares and it isn’t clear right now that the unseen eye is even correct.
I’d go for a substantial meal with Dominic Calvert-Lewin. I’d go for one with him this afternoon. I’d look him in the eye and say: “You know what, sound. Does three small plates equal one substantial meal? You were great today.”
I asked you not to get too wound up at the start of this. I hope you haven’t. I hope you all know how much a Liverpool win would have meant to me, to all of us. We all know that. It would have been everything. But it’s OK. Honestly. Again, I promise.
They put in some terrible challenges today, Everton. Football is a contact game with fierce and angry rivalries. But it is never necessary to hurt someone and Klopp clearly cares very deeply for all our players. The red card, however, should have been the second not the first.
We have no choice but to move on from this game. But when it comes to believing that we could have and should have won, we never have to let that go. Everton are a good side. That rivalry makes games like this closely drawn and hard to win.
Prior to the match Seamus Coleman wrote some words in the programme about the game.
“Finally, a message for all of our supporters… In fact, for fans of both clubs today.
“I can’t help thinking that the atmosphere today would have been up there with the best I have ever played in. I can only imagine the noise before the game and, I’ll be honest, it saddens me we won’t experience it today.
“I absolutely love the atmosphere of a Merseyside derby. And not seeing Blues and Reds inside the stadium reminds us just how serious the situation is.”
I didn’t sleep last night. I’m angry and I’m concerned for the city. The lack of sleep was nothing to do with the game, was due to all the ways I feel powerless, feel completely blunted, totally lack literal mental engagement by the crisis. It has put lives on hold. Genuinely, just put lives into limbo. And limbo is at best. Actual jeopardy at worst.
But then the footballers played that game of football and showed how much they cared for the game and one another and for what it all means. We all felt alive, raw, suddenly alive.
It will be there again and we will be. Take a breath, don’t be angry. Be enthralled.
We are on the march, you know. This, this is what it is to be alive.
For instant reaction to all the Liverpool news and events that matter to you, subscribe to The Anfield Wrap…
🗣 Everton 2 Liverpool 2: The Post-Match Show | #Reaction | #LFC— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) October 17, 2020
Our immediate post-match reaction podcast to the 2-2 draw at Goodison…
Listen 👉 https://t.co/aNID8MmNCG
Subscribe 👉 https://t.co/cXuFmbDvp3 pic.twitter.com/ofYcdsgEVv
As attempts to lighten the mood and offer an uplifting narrative that’s quite good. However, it avoids the fact that VAR is not working and just replaces one human being withith another. What is the point of hanging around while some bloke miles away gets it wrong? No point. Bin the thing, it’s not football.
Nice one Neil, good perspective- stay enthralled (hope you get some sleep tonight)
I might try to stop saying “BUT THEY DREW THE LINE IN THE WRONG PLACE!!” now.
I’m genuinely gutted after that. Deflated. I try not to be, there’s bigger issues in the world than not winning a football match, but that hurt.
We were miles ahead. Our team all coming back into fitness, we were fired up and gelling together, and then Pickford assaulted Virgil.
It changed the game. We don’t need Hendo’s brilliant, last gasp, onside winner. We steamroller them. That changed the game completely. We were cheated. Cheated by VAR and then cheated again at the end.
And while Everton celebrate a draw that feels like a win, we mourn lost points but worse, a long term injury to the best CB in the world and a potential injury to the best midfielder.
If 2020 were a game of football, it would be this one.
We know, and they certainly know, they got away with one today. I could be picky about aspects of our defensive play and about our forward play, but not that magnificent midfield three we had out there. Not only did they provide for the forwards, they helped cover the centre back pairing and ultimately Adrian while at the same time dominating what is supposed to be the best Everton midfield since Ball , Harvey and Kendall. Reducing them to waving for cards, and committing disgraceful challenges. VAR is a joke and Hendo was right to call it as he did but he’ll be no doubt charged by the FA for his comments. When the dust dies down everyone will know order has been restored, the trick now will be to maintain it without Alisson and van Dijk.
Hi Frankie, I think the answer is to bin useless officials and bring in people who can actually operate VAR and also officiate fairly.
I’m all for feeling alive, for the whole gamut of emotions but man, that was on the brink of too much. My kids laughed hysterically at my guttural roar when Mo blamms in the second, we were all bouncing around in delight after the winner, then my young lad was bawling when it was ludicrously, wrongly chalked off. Now worse news: is Virgil crocked long term? By that gormless gimp? Like, maybe for the season? FFS. And Thiago too? Honestly, I know we have to keep things in perspective, but that is epic shite.
The VAR offside: Neil, you’re 100% right to talk about Hendo and the moment he deserved, but that call also says nothing of the artistry and vision of Thiago’s pass, the joy of Sadio’s spin and run, and sheer effort of the captain to slap it in, and the sense of justice – temporary though it was – of seeing Mr Brexit flapping around like a seal as it went in. I thought they’d clarified this law? I thought if the rulers and on-screen geometric things didn’t instantly make it clear, if it wasn’t highlighting a clear offside, then the benefit of the doubt was to go to the attacker? So thiago’s pass and Mane’s run we’re both perfect but the man in the wardrobe says it’s not perfect enough? Because of these stupid lines? Surely the ref should make a call on it?
I’m a big fan of science and this isn’t science. In apparently trying to take refereeing errors out of the equation they’ve replaced it with something far worse. This is anti-football, anti-romance, anti-everything. Footballers already playing in surreal, sterile environments, pouring heart and soul into it, just so some wonk can decide on a goal long after it’s hit the net? To drain the joy of the moment? Seriously, get to fuck. Here’s the line: this is it for this bullshit. Let this be the line in the sand, no more of this nonsense. And let’s hope the lads get some of the luck that deserted us today when it comes to the stent of the injuries.
Extent of their injuries, even. Technology, eh? Just give us some flipping luck.
So disappointed with TAW’s reaction. You are supposed to be representative of the fans. Isn’t that the whole purpose of the operation? Yet all we’ve got in this article, the ratings piece, the post match show & pint show, is the “bright side of life” nonsense. I’m already sick of reading and hearing about “feeling alive” this season and we’re 5 games in.
You can do these things on Monday or Tuesday after a few days have passed and some of us have calmed down. But I’m writing this fully four hours after Jordan’s goal was wrongly disallowed by a system specifically designed to get such decisions right, after our most talented player was butchered (and possibly out for the season) and our most exciting signing in forever was bludgeoned (and possibly out for the rest of the season) by a pair of outright c****. In case you can’t tell, I’m still f****** fuming. And from what I can tell, so are most reds.
VAR has to go. The FA, UEFA, FIFA can all go to f***. Every poll ever taken of football supporters regarding VAR has shown the majority of us want rid. But we’re treated like we deserve to be treated. Just like government’s, the people always get what they deserve. The rules are a mess & have been for years. Different rules for different players, teams and different areas of the pitch. What is a guaranteed offence and free kick against on half way isn’t a penalty inside the box. You can legally dismember an opponent a second after the whistle has gone. Except when you can’t. No. It needs to stop.
David Coote has serious questions to answer. I’m all for worker’s rights and oppose summary dismissal, but accountability needs to be a thing.
Finally, a word on our lads. Yes, they played well. But on occasions that isn’t enough when you pull on that liver bird. Pickford destroyed Virgil’s knee in the 6th minute. That piece of filth was on the pitch for a further 89 minutes and not one of ours left one on him. Good bunch of lads aren’t they eh? Te most apt description is nice. What a nice group of people.
Sorry, but niceness can f*** off. Pickford shouldn’t have been allowed to walk of that pitch. He should have been clattered as soon as. The aim to have him stretchered off; limp off, the silver medal. If this occurred, Thiago isn’t waiting on an MRI right now to find out if he’s gone for 9 months. But we’re soft. Too soft. No b******. Sometimes, even in 2020, circumstances simply dictate what needs to happen next and somebody has to be man enough, ney, b****** enough, to go and do it. Robbo had the perfect chance late on and settled for a few angry words when raking his studs down T-Rex’s face was required.
Sick of the lot of it to be honest. Sick of them, them, and them, and us, and you and me. Been that sort of day, week, month, year.
I’d love to think we’ll take revenge at Anfield. Win the match & have two of theirs carted off. But while we probably win, there’s as much chance of Pickford and Richarlison being hurt in that contest as there is Klopp turning into Simeone. And that’s a shame.
TAW still deleting comments I see. No wonder this site gets so littler interaction. 7/8 comments max. Now I remember why I don’t post here anymore. Not allowed to disagree with anyone. Intellectual cowards and snowflakes running the joint. Embarrassing way for adults brought up in the west to behave. The reason we’re in the state we’re in. Do yourself a favour and read Haidt’s The Coddling of the American Mind.
No mate. Our system doesn’t allow new users to be able to instantly publish comments otherwise all sorts of shite (spam etc) would get through. Do yourself a favour and go for a walk.
Agreed that the result not end of the world. Fact of the matter we could have signed player of the year. We were so much better than them. Disgraceful decisions but next game and move on
Just casually making me burst into tears a couple of times, thanks Neil <3 He *is* the best of us. We *are* alive.
The legitimate talk about the vile fouls and VAR from yesterday distracts from a wider issue for me.
SInce lockdown our stats in the League: 14 played, 32 scored, 25 CONCEDED.
In terms of creating chances and scoring goals, we are still purring but the defending has been rather average for some time now.
Yes, Villa and our lack of focus towards the end of last season skew the stats a bit but nonetheless it’s apparent that we are letting in too many goals. With and without VVD/Ali.
Defence wins Leagues and we have dropped our focus in that department. The lads won all the big prizes. Naturally it takes a lot of motivaton to go again and display the same kind of relentless desire and hunger week in, week out like we showed in 18/19 and 19/20.
The Liverpool team from those last two seasons would have wrapped up the game after scoring the 2nd goal. No chance back then that we let their 2nd equalizer happen.
City couldn’t do it for a third consecutive season. Is a drop-off coming for us as well now, accelerated by potential long-term injury to VVD?
This team is elite and should win the League back-to-back. But it’s also the hardest thing to do. We see that in how inconsistent the lads are defending.
VAR can never work in its current form for such marginal decisions like offsides unless there’s some kind of sensor in the ball that can detect the exact moment the ball leaves the foot.
Without that it’s entirely arbitrary.
Do the fucking refs even know the rules
The VAR guidelines state if any part of the body that can score a goal is offside then you’re offside
But you cant score a goal with your arm – so how the fuck is Mane offside
Fuck me – the refs in England are so fucking incompetent
My mind keeps racing back to the Mori injury to Origi that ultimately sent a career very much in the ascendancy into more or less permanent descent, give or take some truly glorious revenge and a some of the most historic Champions League goals in, uh, history.
I am all for full-blooded derbies, but this was pure thuggery. Two absolutely beyond reckless tackles that could have ended two separate careers.
And don’t even get me started on VAR. I’ve given myself a day and I’m still incandescent.
“This perhaps is the biggest issue with VAR: it pedantically adjudicates on issues all but imperceptible to the human eye and yet ignores offences as blatant as Pickford’s. It’s like a parking attendant dishing out a ticket for staying two minutes too long or being an inch outside the space while ignoring the thief putting a crowbar through the windscreen.” Wilson, Guardian
19/20 has made 20/21 less fraught for me….
Even egregious cock ups by VAR and refs cant get me over excited or angry
We rode our luck a lot last season as well as being brilliant. The margins are so lean in a lot of EPL matches that luck plays an outsized role…
So I’m only really peeved about the ineptitude of assessing Pickfords lunge as even being an acquaintance of legality.
PGMOL is an organisation requiring a complete restructure. Wholesale firings and then headhunting the top officials from the global to be EPL referees, touchies and VAR operators.
The best league deserves the best officiating – it currently is getting A League standard reffing which is plain dreadful…
I think Mark above has it right regarding the refs. They simply do not seem to understand the rules. I’m convinced Coote genuinely didn’t know Pickford could be sent off for an offence which took place after a phase of play in which there had been an offside. It’s preposterous and not worthy of a league of this standard.
Pickford shames the sport with his conduct. It was actually quite symbolic. The most majestic centre-back in world football leaving the field with a long-term injury because of the thuggish actions of one of the worst goalkeepers in the Premier League. Pickford is a danger to other players because he isn’t capable of controlling himself. He’s forever out of control. It shows in his general play, his litany of errors, and his temperament. As the piece says, the guy is a complete liability. Wanting him sent wasn’t about gaining a competitive advantage, because having him in goal gave us an advantage because he is an absolute horror show. It shouldn’t be overlooked that the farcical VAR call spared him the humiliation of yet another error. An absolute parody of a goalkeeper.
Our performance was so very impressive, so very assured. Matip was excellent, Robertson too. Thiago & Henderson imperious in midfield. I thought Allan was going to fall to his knees and thump the ground at one point.
The piece is right to point out Richarlison’s assault being a direct result of our superiority. For some reason that player thinks he’s big-time. You can see it in his demeanour. That two-bit Diego Costa impression he does every time he takes to the field. He’s a fucking hooligan too. That hideous challenge was the closest he’ll ever get to Thiago.
The events around the tech must not detract from our superiority. It was a showing to put them back in their place. We will endure.