You know when you’ve arranged with family or friends that, owing to financial circumstances, you are definitely NOT doing the present thing this Christmas/birthday/whatever? And you know the way that seems like absolutely the correct call at the time and you’re definitely okay with it? And do you also know that pang of ludicrous and illogical disappointment when the day arrives and you are indeed present-free?
That is very much the feeling that gnawed at Latest News on the drive to work earlier, with the transfer window closed and, as we already knew, no new shiny footballers leaning on stuff at Melwood. Somehow, despite all rational understanding of the situation, we hoped that perhaps Uncle John might deliver a little impromptu treat to bolster the squad.
However, upon setting up camp in front of the computer to begin today’s communiqués from AI Towers, an altogether brighter mood had begun to settle over us, with Jürgen Klopp’s observations after the draw with Chelsea warming the chilly recesses of our black hearts.
Should the former Dortmund native ever choose a career in politics, he will lay waste to his opponents in an inexorable rise to power. The disappointment of an opportunity missed and points dropped was like a dull ache in the minds of Liverpool fans this morning, despite their pleasure at seeing the team return to something like its former glory. Klopp, however, whilst acknowledging the gap to the top and the failure to close it, took a view on last night’s proceedings which was both inspirational and life-affirming.
“I’ve said it again a few times [in earlier interviews] – I really prefer a draw like this with a good performance than to have three points and no idea why we got them,” the manager insisted. “The best thing would have been this performance and three points [so] obviously it was not the perfect night for us, but Si saved the penalty so it’s OK. I am really fine with the performance and I am happy we could give a little sign we are still part of the league and we’re still playing football – and sometimes, really good.”
One need not be a psychologist or anthropologist of note to pick up on the messages inherent in those words. The team is far from done. There remain some very worthwhile goals attainable. There may have been some rabid overreaction to the perceived slump in form. Think Latest News is reading a bit much into the above? Well, witness what followed.
“[It was an] unbelievably good atmosphere, I have to say, but this club – we all have to learn,” he cautioned. “We need to learn to keep our nerve. If you [had] put us in a time machine and brought us 15 matches before the end in fourth position… ‘Come on, let’s play 15 games with all you have, with everything, full squad, go for it’, who would say ‘Oh no, please’? I’m pretty sure if we’d won tonight a few guys would have said ‘Yes, but we lost at Burnley’. I don’t understand this, but when we were really good in the season then we conceded too many goals, then we should’ve already bought new defenders, all that stuff.
“Stay cool, that’s a season, a football season, we’ve worked really hard. As long as this club keeps the nerve and [then with] what kind of power we can create, it’s outstanding. Let’s stay cool and have a little bit of fun when you think about Liverpool and look ahead and, yes, nothing has been decided until now, but we have a chance. So, go for it and then if not, then it’s 14 games, 42 points – go for it. There’s a lot to get for us and we will see where it ends.”
The ability to “stay cool and have a little bit of fun” is not one most football supporters – excitable types by nature – can claim. The wisdom in this none-more-Klopp exhortation is undeniable, however. Although it is an ironic fact that his Liverpool team had actually stopped taking that advice themselves, on the evidence of last night’s showing they have found the path again. Look, friends, any man who can poke gentle fun at fan pedantry whilst evoking images of time machines has got to be worth listening to.