There is a masochistic kind of enjoyment to be had with Liverpool’s current form.
Which team are we going to get? The one that beats City, rolls over Ajax, and destroys Rangers? Or the one that loses to Forest and Leeds – at Anfield no less – back-to-back? One thing is certain, which is that Liverpool this season must be a bookie’s greatest headache.
You just can’t handicap these games.
As it was in the matches against Fulham and Brighton, Liverpool did its best to make the opposition look good, and the Peacocks ran with it. Sure, Leeds aren’t pushovers, but I don’t think anyone can argue that they are at the same level as the Reds – at least in theory. In practice, for many stretches today, Liverpool looked wary, even scared, of a side that has been doing so badly recently, its coach was in danger of losing his job after this game – one he was fully expected to lose heavily.
Jesse Marsche will keep his job, so I suppose we can notch one for labor relations.
Some of the Reds players are shadows of their former selves. Fabinho has been struggling for a while now, and while he isn’t actually terrible, and probably deserves a spot in a smaller premier league team… oh, what am I saying? He is already playing in one of those (sorry). I hate to say it, but Jones isn’t even worth that right now. Gomez, like Fabinho, is in the “ok for a smaller club” category; the mistake that led to the opening goal (the movie “Don’t Look Up” popped to mind) was not solely his. Some of the blame should go to Alisson, and a portion goes to Van Dijk who was apparently taking a lovely stroll in the beautiful evening, instead of providing cover in case a mistake does happen.
It’s very hard to win football games, especially in a league as tough as the premier league, while loitering.
The list goes on. Salah took his goal well, as he so often does, but then became too selfish when it counted, as is also painfully often the case when things aren’t ticking for the team (remember that mini-spat with Sadio Mane?). Nunez, on the other hand, was selfish and didn’t finish, which makes him simply disappointing. Yes, he’s a chaos agent up front, and I am more than willing to give him a long runway, but his decision making was atrocious. Then again, to be fair, that simply echoed the rest of the team. The only one up front who more or less played his usual game was Bobby.
We’d gotten used to this inconsistency before Klopp, but the last few years have seemed to give us a sense that the machine usually finds a way to win after all. This season it’s the other way around; Liverpool is becoming quite expert at finding a way to lose in spite of overwhelming odds in its favor. In elite sports, this lack of confidence, fear of the next mistake, hesitations and losing mindset, is difficult to turn around. Thankfully, a good break can do wonders to get players out of this rut.
Plus it’s a lot less fun for me to write this sort of column. So can I say it?
The World Cup can’t come soon enough.