On about the 60th minute, my friend Dan, also known as the poor soul that drew the lucky number to wake up with me at 430AM and watch the game together, muttered that at the screen, referring to Liverpool. I had a completely different title for this column in mind, but then burst out laughing so hard I had to change it right there and then.
Even when Willems drilled in that magnificent effort, the result of the game was never in doubt, for me anyway. It’s important to acknowledge the quality of that shot; we hear about pile drivers often enough, but not all of them qualify, and actually seeing an honest one being delivered into the corner of the net like that is a joy.
Even when it goes against you.
While it looked like Mane’s first goal was similar, it really wasn’t. Both were perfect in execution, Willems relied on power, Mane on purely refined technical skill, and oh, just look at that curve and that placement. As a side note, I find it interesting that Mane is now scoring virtually the same goal pretty much every game, it is becoming a sort of signature for him this season. He used to try them just as often, but they are going in now regularly with a sort of vicious tenacity. Which I think underlines Klopp’s comments about this Liverpool team being young; at 27, Mane is only just really entering his prime years.
Then Bobby came on, and after that, it was simply a matter of how many. Many people felt that Firmino was man of the match at Burnley, but I went with Fabinho. This game, while Mane is probably going to get the majority vote, mine now goes to Bobby. His audacity is not only impossible to quite put in words, it’s also always on point; there are many creative players out there, but he is in a rarefied league indeed in terms of how effectively creative he is, because said creativity is combined with such intelligent play and outstanding vision. I am coming to believe that he is as good as Messi in this aspect of his game, and I have unending admiration for the latter. There is a Ballon D’Or in this guy’s future, I’m telling you.
The story of this game, though, goes back to minute seven, when we were one down. As I was sitting there in the darkness, two thoughts hit me. The first was that the timing was excellent for Liverpool to get struck by that bolt of dutch lightning, because they opened the game in sloppy manner, almost appearing uninterested. It could have been heading into one of those depressing affairs where it’s scoreless until the last five minutes when the weaker side suddenly find the net on a counterattack or random chance in the box following an unnecessarily given free-kick.
Instead, Liverpool… woke up.
And that was the second thought, because I got a little angry right there together with the players. The phrase that flashed through my mind was “how insolent! Time to teach them a lesson”. I know, it sounds terrible, but it is how I felt in the moment, and in reality, that’s ultimately what transpired. The meat grinder purred into life, 81% possession in half-time being the result, and the Magpies did well to escape with only three.
RED meat grinder, of course. Which leads me back to the headline.
So, again, thank you, Dan.