Moments of prescience are rare in football.
Surely there can have been no one in Anfield capable of predicting such a ludicrous outcome in a Merseyside derby, but I believe I was closer than most.
With the clock ticking down, the blue smoke gathering in the Anfield Road stand and the Fates about to point their cruel finger at Jordan Pickford, a thought passed through my head.
‘Is this the day when someone makes a name for themselves? Is this to be ‘the Joe Gomez Derby?’
The ‘insert name here’ games. They fall in both categories, good and bad. The Gerrard final, the Owen final, the, um, Zidane final. Who, if anyone, would it be this time? Surely such a hectic game can’t end 0-0.
Of all the unlikely candidates to bestow such a title, Divock didn’t come close. Couldn’t have come close in any script. After all, for fiction to work it has to be barely credible. Yesterday I don’t suppose many of us had so much as even thought of the words ‘Divock Origi’ yet by the end of the night we’d sung them to skies hundreds of time.
From the Blue perspective, Dave Downie of the Blue Room summed it up perfectly on Facebook when he said: ‘They still find new ways to hurt us.’ Yes we do.
The Ev deserved better. That’s what makes it great.
The Everton hype beforehand was extraordinary. Their draw with Chelsea was deemed to be the dawning of their new era. Everything pointed to an upset. Five wins in six, no wins at Anfield since 1999 and the Reds bested by a Brazilian gobshite in the week. Surely this all led to the inevitable. This would be the year when they would end that nightmare run.
And, credit where it’s due, they came closer than usual. This was not to be the repeated Anfield surrender, of kicking Reds till the cards came out and hanging onto a draw. This Everton wanted to know. With the excellent Gomes and Gueye anchoring the midfield while Keane and Mina stifled the front players, this was something new. Any other Everton side would have resorted to set pieces and elbows a la Moyes/Fellani, but not this one.
Liverpool were resilient enough, but, again creativity was in short supply. Mane and Shaqiri should have done better with their chances, but Mina and Gomes could say the same. This game just needed genius or tragedy. Both clubs would have taken either.
We found a new way to hurt them. The thing is, we didn’t see that coming either.
That could well be Divock Origi’s last goal in a red shirt and it’s difficult to see what his next step will be. He nabbed six goals in thirty four games for Wolfsburg last term — hardly setting the world alight. He’s done okay, but few will feel we’ve missed out when he leaves L4. Still, he’ll always have ‘The Origi Derby’.
There’s precedent here. Andrea Dossena was an absolute terrible player for Liverpool, but left with wrap-up goals against Real Madrid and Manchester. In fact, at that time, Dossena had scored more goals against Madrid than they had against us in their entire history. He may have been limited, but he’s still remembered with a smile. Goals from improbable players are wonderful.
A 0-0 draw would have been fair though a little hard to take. Three drawn derbies in a row would have frustrated the more ardent Reds regardless of the points and league position. The Lovren/Calvert-Lewin game was a washout thanks to some bizarre personnel choices while the Goodison game was the most forgettable game in recent history as Liverpool were more concerned with a trip to Manchester City in the Champions League midweek. Yesterday’s game, however, was the real Tabasco and needed to be won.
There’s winning and there’s THAT way of winning.
No Red in the ground will forget those scenes. It was a sensory overload too far. Everyone was hugged, even Blues in the crowd who had tried to keep quiet. One near me gave up the ghost and called us ‘a load of fucking Red tramps’ from within an enclave of diving and swooping Liverpool love-in. I hugged him hardest. Their lot had sung ‘Murderers’ minutes with impeccable timing earlier so, fuck it, he was fair game.
The manager too had his own head-rush. When he ran onto the pitch I seriously thought a fan had got on. I was right. The keeper deserved a Klopp hug. After all, it was his flick that allowed the ball to arrive in the box with a little more pace and cause panic. He warrants thanks for that and my opprobrium at his weird short passes at goal kicks evaporated in the coming minutes.
Klopp later apologised to Marco Silva which was a decent thing to do. I would have cheerfully emptied Thomas Tuchel into a skip after his touchline antics in Paris and he didn’t enter the field of play so that was fair enough. Tuchel is a weird little man though.
That one man pitch invasion angered a few including BBC pundit Danny Mills who called it ‘disrespectful’. I’ve no idea why the former Manchester City player was so perturbed.
It finished 1-0, Dan. Cheers.
Sometimes former players don’t make the best pundits. They too are wrapped up in it all and have no objectivity.
But enough of him and his tutting ilk. This day was about Liverpool and, in a wider sense, about the game itself. Once again, I ask why we’re so addicted to putting our very souls on the line week by week. Why we see the need to jump head first into an emotional abyss with little or short rewards.
And those minutes provides the answer. This game is capable of the improbable, the unchartered waters of mystery. Those beautiful scraps of time when you seriously wonder if your eyes are taking the piss.
You can keep your tiresome all-consuming arguments about Henderson and Fabinho and whatever your midfield selection of choice is, I’m not bothered about Firmino’s starting position today and you can pore over heat-maps all you like. Put aside the Red v Red squabbles and just look at that! Just look at what fate can do to you. Look at what it can do to others. This was about football. Pure football and it’s a beautiful thing when it goes your way.
Ask Divock Origi of ‘the Divock Origi Derby’ fame.