A Big Win For Liverpool, But That Has To Be The Minimum Level Of Performance

There was massive win for Liverpool fans to celebrate yesterday, but it wasn’t the one on the pitch. The leaking of the report into the Champions League final might well have been done by UEFA in the hope that the timing of the leak could see it all but covered up, but the organisation has gone up against the wrong fan base if it thinks that is going to be the case. The independent report completely exonerates Liverpool fans from any wrong-doing and puts the blame for what happened squarely on the shoulders of the authorities. Not only that, but it praises the Reds that were there for ensuring that no lives were lost in what could have become one of the worst disaster in modern times. Quite whether UEFA and the French police will change anything about the way that they police major events in the future remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath as far as that is concerned. Both are organisations that I wouldn’t trust to organise a raffle.

Everyone associated with Liverpool Football Club knows all about Hillsborough. When the images began to be beamed back from the Stade de France, many feared we might be able to witness another one. The authorities thought that they could blame us, just has those in charge had done more than 30 years before. This time, though, the people being wronged had cameras. The press were there and recorded it all. There was to be no brushing things under the carpet in the way that the British government and Football Association had managed for three decades. Instead, it took less than a year for the truth to be written into the record. The footballing authorities and the police were in the wrong, just like they were in 1989. Just as with Hillsborough, those that deny it or try to paint some other picture are just as bad as Covid-deniers or people who think that the earth is flat. The truth is categorically out there and that is to be celebrated from the roof tops.

Liverpool Are Magic, Everton Are Tragic

Whilst the good news was emerging off the pitch, there was more to celebrate on it. We have to be honest with ourselves and admit that Everton are a club in dire straights right now. Whilst I know in my heart-of-hearts that there will be three teams that will conspire to be worse than them this season and they will still be playing Premier League football next season, there is no doubting the fact that it is a club in a terrible state. When they sold Anthony Gordon in January, having already lost Richarlison in the summer, they waved goodbye to their best and most threatening player. He might not know how to stay on his feet, but he is dangerous when he manages to find his sea legs. In his absence, they brought a lad back from a loan at Sunderland and pinned their hopes on him rather than Neil Maupay in the red-hot atmosphere of a Merseyside derby. If that is Sean Dyche’s tactical masterplan to keep them up, they might have to have a re-think pretty quickly.

For the Reds, it was a performance more in line with what we’ve grown used to seeing in the past. We started quickly, rather than at the soporific pace that we’ve seen from the players at times this season, closing down the Everton players and giving them very little chance of escape. We did well to pin them back, but it is fair to say that the Blues didn’t do much to help themselves. It is a set of players that has been assembled by numerous different managers and is only just getting to grips with their new manager’s requirements, but none of the pressing, closing down and physicality that we saw against Arsenal was there to be seen. Sean Dyche is a decent manager, but he’s not one that is overly progressive with his footballing style. He is going to have to take the Blues back to basics first before looking to impose a better way of playing on them. Whether it will be enough to save them remains to be seen, but I don’t think I’m lucky enough to watch them go down.

Liverpool Now Have A Base Level Of Performance

If I’m being honest, I’m not really sure how good we were and how bad they were. They are in the bottom three for a reason, which you could see pretty clearly when they failed to create any meaningful chances when two goals behind. That being said, our players haven’t just become bad overnight, with many of the decisions that they were making more akin to the kind of thing that we’d grown used to from them in the seasons prior to this one. It felt as though Jordan Henderson had a point to prove and I was impressed with how well he worked at closing down space and stopping them from being able to get out of their defensive third. I didn’t think Fabinho Tavares was atrocious, though I also didn’t think he was back to being the player he was 18 months ago. The difference in Mo Salah’s play once he’d got his goal was massive, with the same being true of Cody Gakpo. However, there is little doubt that it was Stefan Bajcetic that absolutely stole the show.

I have to confess that I wasn’t sure he’d have the mentality to play in a Merseyside derby, given the fact that he’s been booked in virtually every start he’s had for us so far. Having arrived at the club as a centre-back before being moved into the six, it is incredible how well he played further forward. He was the best midfielder on the pitch, if not the best player full stop. What a talent he looks for the future. Most importantly, though, we now have a base level that can be expected from the players between now and the end of the season. I don’t think we will make it past Real Madrid in the Champions League, given the hex that they seem to have over us, but I do think that we can sneak into the top four if we get our act together. I think we’ll know more about the players and where we’re at when we play Newcastle, who will be distracted by the upcoming cup final that they have the following week. For us, it’s time to prove that this wasn’t just a flash in the pan against poor opposition.

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