The derby is behind us. That day that can bring so much joy, but also so much dread and pain is in the rearview mirror, and now we can relax until we welcome our wonderful neighbors back to Anfield. The Merseyside derby has the reputation of being “the friendly derby”, but on the day itself, you can feel the electricity in the air. It is one of those games during the season where the nerves and blood pressure are a bit more elevated. We can’t lose to “them”, can we?
There are so many Liverpool fans, in Liverpool, and around the world that have a win-at-all-cost mentality about Liverpool and Everton. They can only see the importance of us winning and them losing. But it should not be so. Liverpool as a city has struggled throughout the 80s and 90s as the city was put through a period of “managed decline” by successive governments. The city united and came together following the Hillsborough tragedy. That bond still exists today, and fans of both clubs do come together for different initiatives and ventures over the course of the season.
In many families on Merseyside, the reality is that there are divided loyalties between red and blue, and that is great for the banter and the fun. But as my uncle used to share in Norris Green, if it is good for the city of Liverpool to let Everton do well, then it is ok for Everton to be your second team. This goodwill goes out the window for 90 minutes twice a season!
Another Disappointing Draw
This weekend saw Liverpool draw again. As has become the norm, the result was greeted with almost mass hysteria. More points dropped. We are not playing well. We have gone backward. The season is over and so on. We have 9 points from 18. Last season Man City dropped 10 points in their first 10 games, losing two and drawing two. We have had a sluggish start, yet it is perfectly understandable. We have had our midfield decimated with injuries. Injuries are at the heart of the defense. Our new center forward was banned for three matches. And yet the reality is that we have created enough chances in all of our games to win them all. The season is a true marathon and not a sprint. The media will hype up every result and every game. We are five points behind Man City, and should we beat them at Anfield, it would be down to two. Would we still classify that as a crisis? This week we have seen a few players return to training. The structure will come back and the results too will return. No prizes are given out in September. We also need to be aware that teams like Spurs and Arsenal and even United have all strengthened and they will likely take points off one another and city and ourselves. We just have to be ready to pick up the pieces… and we will!
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What about the Derby?
Once again there was a group out there saying Mane is a loss to this team. And again, I have shared that Mane had a great second half to last season, but these are the same media people who were saying for the year and a half before that, that Mane had enjoyed his best days in a red shirt. Mane is a loss, but he has been truly and adequately replaced by Luis Diaz. Once again, he played well in the derby. We had chance after chance, and while we conceded chances also, we created enough to win. The team selection was interesting and I can see the perspective that Klopp took. He saw the team was on a high after the Newcastle game and went for a selection of youth and energy and attack-minded focus. However, I sense the occasion got to a lot of the players as we gave another underwhelming performance overall. The derby really calls for more experience, but if Klopp had started Firmino and Milner, he would have been criticized also. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you simply cannot win.
Quick Takes On the Derby:
– People will say Salah was poor, but he nearly pulled the game out of the fire when hitting the post at the end of the game.
– Van dijk should have received a red card for his tackle
– Nunez had a great effort come off the bar, and had a few nice touches, but we will be looking for more from him over the course of 90 minutes
– Diaz had another cracking game
– The right-back area is now being targeted in every single game. Trent is being singled out. Has he made mistakes? Maybe, but his strength lies in going forward. Right now there is constant media hype around his defending. Once the midfield solidity and consistency come back, I see a few clean sheets helping the whole Trent can’t defend furor cooling down.
Derby’s are always cagy and drum up emotions that can get the best of any supporter. You don’t need extra storylines when Liverpool and Everton face off, but with LFC struggling out of the gate this campaign, the stories were there to be told. At least it is behind us, until the second half of the season when we get to do this all over again.! Up the Reds!