Despite the lack of calm heads off the field, it was faith and calm heads that prevailed on the pitch for Liverpool against Newcastle…


LET’S talk about faith. George Michael was keen on it.

Football support is a largely masochistic endeavour. In terms of silverware, hardly anyone wins anything even once in a lifetime. The majority – the overwhelming majority – fail.

Seasons are seldom successful. You are not ‘by far the greatest team the world has ever seen’, despite your weekly claims. But you turn up and do it anyway.

Games are slightly different, though it’s a fool that is completely sold on a huge victory before kick off.

The comedian Jasper Carrott once suggested that the Golden Goal ticket should (an antiquated scratch card game which gave you a minute and second of the game – say, 44 minutes 26 seconds – on which the first goal was scored), in Birmingham City’s case, read ‘October.’ He also observed ‘you lose some, you draw some’. We’ve all been there.

But there’s always a chance in a one-off game. An ill-deserved three points, a draw stolen from a hated rival, celebrating because a player who once wore your shirt scored against someone you don’t like. The Pyrrhic victory.

Faith, then.

A goal down, the silliest booking I’ve ever seen and a red card which was dubious at best. What’s more, The Reds have lost their heads and can’t get past the Newcastle press.

You need your captain there, but he was busy kicking tables over and punching walls somewhere else. You need your vice captain then but he was in a running battle of headspace with another player and losing. So what do you do?

You take time out. You calm down. You remember what you’re about.

Not easy when they’re lashing tackles about with impunity and the ref’s urging you to just frown at him, but you play with a straight bat.

That’s the team, though. What about us? They’ve got skills for this. What have we got?

We have faith.

No game has ever ended on 28 minutes. No club has bought two centre halves at half time. No game has ever been won by shouting about investment on the internet. All you can do is dig in and shout.

I saw this game in a pub in a remote part of South Wales. That’s three games in three different countries so far this season. I’m like Bill Bryson in Adidas. The pub was loud in its criticism for the majority of the game and then raucous in its joy. Faith was never lost.

Darwin Nunez had faith, too. Think about it. He can’t speak the language other than four words, he’s seen the system change, others come in and take his place and seemed set to play 10 minutes a fortnight. But he knows what he’s good at and knows it will be needed.

I suppose that’s because he knows there are still flaws in the side. There’ll still be rejigs and trials as Jürgen Klopp chops and changes so the door is never closed. Just take your chances.

This was a game won on patience and faith.

Liverpool aren’t great yet. They’ve just done great things. Two red cards, two hard aways and behind in two games. Seven points. That’s been achieved by working things out when things go wrong. You need faith to do that.

Here come Villa. Dig in again.

You gotta have faith.

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