There was a minute in the second half today where Tottenham broke through our midfield. Roberto Firmino ran with his man and shoulder charged him off the ball with such ferocity that the Spurs player was left sprawled on the pitch. It was a sulky gesture by the Brazilian and borne purely out of frustration. The goal aside it was the only time I cheered in ninety minutes.
We’ve all read this script before. Liverpool go out with good intentions only to find themselves a goal down to a horrific mistake. Do we put it behind us and see out the next ten minutes of predictable onslaught? We do not. We simply throw another mistake in for good measure and then try our hardest to remember where this came in the strategic plan.
Ordinarily, you can look at a scoreline like that and think the issue was work rate or ‘testicular fortitude’. It certainly wasn’t the former as we saw plenty of the ball, but when it came to the latter it was the same old song. Things haven’t improved since the City debacle or, at least, we haven’t learned from it. The pattern continues. Go behind, look around nervously and then hope the game ends soon. Print.
No leadership, no plan for how to get through the next phase of the game. Nothing.
But what was more concerning was the sheer speed in which we gave the game away.
Last week Man Utd’s plan was to play the game out until the last ten minutes and wait for us to hand them a gift. It would have worked had they the wit to take advantage. Spurs had no such issues.
Let’s be clear here. Tottenham are a good side, possibly even a great one. Kane and Son particularly gave us hell with their confidence and quality, but Jesus we gave them rose petals to walk over today. The match was barely five minutes old before an international centre-back chose not to bother checking the lad running behind him and we go a goal behind. Seven minutes later the same international centre-back throws himself at a ball he can’t possibly reach with such force that Harry Kane is crossing the ball just as he’s landing on the turf. 2-0. It’s okay though. We get one back and have a chance to regroup if we can only get to halftime at 2-1. Enter Emre Can.
Emre has had some good press of late and plays as a defender for his country. It’s startling then that he gives away such a stupid free kick in such a stupid area of the pitch at such a stupid time. Dejan’s gone off so Joel takes over as the Chief Inspector of the Keystone Cops. One weak header later and they have another chance. Alli’s still got a lot to do but any shot on target has us in trouble. Then the keeper balls it up for the fourth.
Tottenham worked us out in five minutes and beat us in twelve.
The walk from the ground was a sobering and sorrowful hour (the time it takes to get through the queue for the Tube even if you don’t want to use it). At City we shat it plain and simple, manager included. Back then we didn’t want to know once we had our hard luck story, but this was something different. Today Liverpool were given a reminder of just how far we are behind our rivals and while we huffed and puffed around their box with glacial determination they simply undid us time and again and finished every gift afforded them.
It was good to see that the manager finally point at his own chest when it came to dishing out blame. That alone is a start as this side labours under the misapprehension that we are a good side. We are not. That may sound negative or a lazy swipe at a team at its lowest ebb, but it’s simply a realistic appraisal. Oh, we have our moments, but this side sits in ninth place with just over half the points obtained by the league leaders.
This side needs pragmatism, not an inflated view of its potential. It doesn’t need ‘I feel sorry for xyz’ or sabre-rattling midweek interviews stating how great we’re going to be from now on. No one is doing well here and it’s fine to say so.
It’s easy to play favourites but after today it’s time for this side (and manager) to acknowledge a few home truths.
Liverpool have been to the two best teams in the division and lost nine goals. Nine.
We’ve played seven of the eight teams above us and beaten only one of them (Good old Arsenal).
Only four sides have conceded more goals than us – they’re in the bottom five.
We have conceded more away goals than anyone in the league.
And this can all change if we just stop doing the same things all the time. Playing the formation which no longer works, the individual mistakes, the lack of cover, the goalkeeper(s) and the acknowledgement that Fortress Anfield is a myth. It’s not a fortress. It’s just an address now.
Let’s just stop pretending, shall we?
Get back to basics, Liverpool. For a start, look at your back four and make us hard to beat again. If the manager is fine with the four centre-halves he’s got at the club, then show us why.
The saddest thing about this for me personally is this – if I were a football manager I’d want to play Liverpool because Liverpool tell you how to beat them. That has to change.
So while today was a public undressing at the ‘Home of Football’ (Christ), it can also be the time where we point out that the Emperor is naked. This is not to say that Klopp is solely at fault or should be sacked, but we need to look at this Liverpool team intensely and arrest the slide because we have to stare the facts in the face.
The only positive that comes from the day is that we might tear up the strategy that’s brought us to this point. 4-1 is a disgrace. Let’s hope we learn something from it.