Because humor is an excellent way to relieve stress, let me paraphrase a very old joke. There was once this football team called Liverpool, and they played a game. For an hour, they kept praying; “please, god, let us score a goal.” The other team, meanwhile, scored a goal. “Please, god, let us score a goal!” The other team then scored another goal. “God, why won’t you let us score a goal?!” Liverpool pleaded. Suddenly, god appeared from the heavens and said, “Will you shoot already?”
It took Liverpool a full 66 minutes to have the first shot on goal!
I mean, thank god for Mo Salah, I guess.
He wasn’t enough.
With my gratitude to American Scouser staffer Brando the Mando for the brilliant headline for this column, the point is well made. There is no way to sugarcoat it; since the beginning of the season, the Reds are underplaying, underperforming, and, err, underintensing their opposition. Forget being title contenders; at this rate, will be lucky to make it to top-4. Looks like City will have Arsenal to deal with, so at least the league will have some interest.
Everyone and their sister pointed out that the midfield was going to be an issue this season. Every one of these first three outings has served to underline this point. With the utmost love and respect due to James Milner, who is a natural phenomenon, he can’t hold the entire thing together. The defense, also suffering from a major injury spell, is downright fragile; Gomez hasn’t played a full game in a long while, and it was painfully obvious today as his reaction times were, for the most part, downright abysmal. Even Van Dijk looked like a run-of-the-mill center back.
Presented with such an opportunity at Old Trafford, United weren’t about to let it slip through their hands, and by half time, were licking their chops. I must now complain bitterly about how unfair it was for Ten Hag to choose this game to bench Maguire, Ronaldo, Shaw and Fred. Couldn’t you wait one more game, you wily dutch? I suspect that with those four starting, the outcome would have been rather different.
It’s probably a good idea to put things in perspective now. Losing to United at Old Trafford is not generally a devastating outcome; it used to be the reasonable expectation. The biggest problem for me, and the thing that hurts the most, is that while United earned this result, it wasn’t because they played particularly well. Rather, it was Liverpool who played terribly and invited it. Sadly, that has been the story in each of the three games so far this season, and it shows in the league table.
Injuries or not, Klopp has got his work cut out for him to get the team out of this mess, and he’s going to have to do it quickly.
Two from nine is embarrassing.