I love my dad. He’s been an excellent father to me, is a friend as well as a parent and is the reason I’m a Liverpool supporter. Yet when we talk about Liverpool matches, it’s often apparent that he sort of forgets that the other team has the ability to influence the game’s outcome. That’s what a lot of Liverpool supporters are at risk of doing with the Merseyside derby. It’s easy to talk about the Reds’ inability to put a run of moves together and the disjointed look of things, especially in the final third. But that plays down how well-disciplined Carlo Ancelotti’s men were and how little interest they had in seeing a game of football break out. They turned up determined to stop us getting any sort of flow to our game and it worked really well for them. That, combined with the fact that we haven’t played together for more than three months resulted in a match that was stilted, lacked flow and struggled to take off in the way many of us had hoped for.
Ancelotti has mentioned his 4-4-2 in pretty much every interview since football’s return. Here it is in all its glory from Everton’s average positions vs Liverpool. pic.twitter.com/zMFmNdeNFA
— James Nalton (@JDNalton) June 22, 2020
Having spent over one hundred days dreaming of seeing the Reds play again, many of us have unfortunately forgotten that both Goodison Park and the current Everton manager appear to be Jürgen Klopp’s Kryptonite. Since November 2013, Liverpool have only scored twice at the home of our local rivals. Everton have only scored against us once. There have been four 0-0s in the same period. I don’t think we should be shocked that the first game back after the suspension of football because of the Coronavirus outbreak wasn’t exactly a barn-burner. I’m not sure that we need to read too much in to that, either. Everton had a clear objective and they achieved it; they nearly even turned it into a smash and grab as the match reached its conclusion. Evertonians will be happy that they managed to delay the inevitable, whilst Liverpool supporters need to be careful not to go over the top in analysing something that was always likely to happen.
The Reds Have Been Sensational This Season
I often write on this site about the importance of asking why certain stories are being told. Transfer stories are often out there because one of the selling club, the buying club or the players’ agent wants the story to be in the news to strengthen their negotiating position, for example. In the case of Liverpool this season, the simple truth is that talking about how brilliant Jürgen Klopp’s men have been isn’t interesting and won’t sell newspapers. Editors and journalists have to try to find ways to put a spin on a story that will make people want to buy papers or click on links, even if those clicks are from people who are angry about the way the story has been reported. So it is that Jonathan Wilson in the Guardian was able to write about Liverpool ‘deserving full measure of praise’ one day and then spend the next suggesting that this season may yet become an anti-climax. It’s clearly nonsense to hold both of those views, but it earns clicks.
60 Man City
46 Man Utd, Wolves
44 Sheff Utd
42 Spurs, Palace
— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) June 21, 2020
Even now, Liverpool have dropped points in just three Premier League games. Think about that for a second; the Reds have been so good that we’ve won all but ten percent of the matches that we’ve played in. They haven’t all been electrifying performances, I think it’s fair to say. The season has been about big moments, like the two goals in the dying minutes at Villa park, more than it’s been about crushing the opposition. Yet we’ve seen in games against Leicester City at the King Power and Manchester City at Anfield the manner in which this team still has the ability to overwhelm when it needs to. The Reds are still on course to win more points than any Premier League side has ever managed to, so don’t talk to me about anything being an anti-climax. That’s to say nothing of the fact that even if we only draw five more matches and lose the other three to claim the title, I still won’t care because we’ll be Champions of England.
We’ll End The Season In Style
There’s no way of knowing how the last few weeks of the season will transpire. We don’t even know for certain that we will manage to cram the last eight games in before a second wave arrives and everything needs to be shut down again. It won’t take much for critics of the Premier League’s return to start banging the drum that things should be settled on a Points-Per-Game basis in order to stop the spread of Covid-19. Yet we’ve played too well throughout this season, been too dominant, for things not to return to that style before the campaign is drawn to a close. Every time Liverpool return from sort of break there are countless think pieces about how they lack rhythm and don’t play very well for the first couple of weeks. Very few people bother to point out that Jürgen Klopp’s job is to think about the long-term as well as the short. He could send the players back roaring, but if they burn out quickly then what good would that do?
Didn’t miss the fume you know mates. Reckon it’ll be sound you know. Absolutely fine to be frustrated but the bigger picture and all that. 103 days between games, bound to be a bit rusty.
— Mike Kearney (@MikeKearney1) June 21, 2020
This time around things are even more complicated, given that the players are likely to have a very short break before the end of this season and the start of the next one. Klopp and his backroom team need to be thinking about not only how to get the players to hit their peak at the right time for the conclusion of the current campaign but how they’ll also be able to start the next one in a winning way. Once the tension of securing that nineteenth title is out of the way, I think Klopp will begin to experiment with his team and let them unleash hell a wee bit. I think we’ll start to see the players be more relaxed and other teams suffer as a consequence of that. What, I wonder, will need to happen for the likes of Wilson to admit that the season has not, in fact, been an anti-climax? I’m intrigued, but I also have to admit that I don’t really care. I don’t think any sensible Liverpool supporters will find the securing of a title for the first time in thirty years to be anticlimactic.