Liverpool committed a cardinal title race sin by letting Manchester City get ahead, but there is still time to turn the mood around at least…


I DIDN’T watch it.

The Manchester Marathon, the vagaries of BBC Sounds and a slowly dying phone were all I had. I thought I’d just watch it later. Then I knew I wouldn’t.

Reactions differ over time. Frustration to fury, to fuck it all, to some sort of muddied perspective.

Arsenal helped with the latter to some extent, but they were never the issue. This was always about us and Manchester City. Hats off to them, though. I always thought they’d cough first in the title race, but we beat them to it.

There’s no way around it. The last few weeks have been awful. Two terrible games at Old Trafford, the Atalanta travesty and now Crystal Palace. The Reds doubting themselves, being shaky where we were once solid and showing an inability to finish chances. A rising underperformance in – God, help us – xG.

The title race isn’t over, but we’ve not so much as handed over an advantage to City – we’ve hurled it at their feet.

I know, I know. No runners and all that, but I’d feel a lot more confident if we were in any semblance of form. The bottom line is, at the moment, I’d rather play us than City.

The biggest worry is that this season – and it’s been an incredible one – will somehow be written off as a failure, particularly when it ties in with Jürgen Klopp’s departure. It’s nothing like a failure. It’s just that we’ve performed brilliantly without being especially brilliant and that’s hiked up the expectation. Expectations were unlikely to match.

Maybe that’s harsh. We’ve certainly had glimpses and the mental strength has been astonishing, but we’ve gone behind 21 times in 51 games. That has to change.

What’s worse is that we tend to concede early, so any game plan is replaced by panic. Oh, we can patient if we’re only playing the opposition on the pitch, but in recent weeks every game is shot through the prism of the title race (‘what does that mean for the league table?!’) and that comes with added pressure.

Still, we’ve nothing to lose on Thursday so maybe we’ll see a performance and a result. This side can certainly do that. Take the pressure off and we might release ourselves from our own minds.

It’s not over, though the pit of my stomach feels heavier after that. But this is when we show our colours. This is where we pay.

Keep going, boys and girls. Dig in. This is where they need us the most.

And, after all, you never know.


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