No matter who you are; no matter what you have achieved, football will always have a propensity to bite you now and then.
After 60 minutes of outstanding movement, where a string of goalscoring chances were created by Liverpool at home to Burnley, we paid the price for only managing to take one of the multitude of opportunities we conjured up. Nick Pope enjoying the performance of his season.
Get Some Rest Pam, You Look Tired
This was like one of those Jason Bourne-style flashbacks to an era when we used to partake in a half dozen or so league games like this every season.
It maybe shows just how far Liverpool have come, that frustration doesn’t feel part and parcel of our weekly expectations anymore, so when it does arise it feels like a familiar, yet distant concept.
It maybe shows just how far Burnley have come, that they didn’t wilt within the initial 60-minute onslaught, before contesting what was a very different final 30, in which they came the closest to finding a winner when rattling Alisson’s crossbar.
In a congested battle for European qualification, Sean Dyche’s team are still in with a shout. Both Arsenal and Chelsea also have much to play for in the next two, so maybe this one against Burnley can represent a timely slap across the face if Jurgen Klopp and his players are to break through the 100-point barrier.
In the absence of Jordan Henderson, this one offered the first of what will be four experimental midfield combinations.
While a fully fit Henderson does sit out the occasional game here and there, it always makes a defined difference when it is known he won’t be there well in advance.
This is what made the first hour so reassuring, as Henderson’s presence wasn’t missed. Curtis Jones was fluid in his movement, both of the ball and himself and collectively the midfield played its part in carving Burnley open again and again.
What was missed was that element of drive and stubbornness that on another day would have ensured we got over the line for the three points.
Nobody Told Me There’d be Days Like These
You can also throw into the mix, that it was simply ‘one of those days’.
Liverpool aren’t immune to luck taking against them and while they might well be the champions, there is no god-given right to win every game.
An indicator of how Liverpool have dominated the Premier League this season is that rivals can only celebrate the small hiccups.
Take it as a compliment.
It is also wonderful to see that neither Klopp nor his players take the loss of points gracefully. If Liverpool don’t win, it is brooded upon.
Reasons are sought as to why a win wasn’t obtained, while the potential elimination of repetitive mistakes are discussed and the improvements of any perceived shortcomings are thoroughly investigated.
This is a sign of a Liverpool that is still evolving and Jones and Neco Williams starting the game was an example of this.
The most emphatic title winners of all time, yet Klopp is unwilling to stand still. In this respect, Jones and Williams represent a future that they are ready for today.
Nathaniel Clyne, not yet 30 and capable of being a fine first-choice right-back for many Premier League teams, a man capable of being a back-up right-back for the bigger teams, is swept away because of the promise and long-term benefits of the 19-year-old Williams.
Adam Lallana is informed that, for his own benefit, he’d be better off looking for regular football elsewhere, because in Jones, here is a player that could star in a Liverpool shirt for more than a decade to come and is ready to serve in the here and now.
Evolving football teams tend to work on a conveyor belt process when it comes to the composition of their squads. For each new player that emerges from the womb, or is brought in from elsewhere, it means that somebody else has dropped off the other end and rolled out of the exit door.
We used to work in the term ‘dead wood’ when it came to the assessment of the players that we would move on, or at least hoped to move on.
Klopp has long since ended that era.
Now, we look at the players we move on as being good players, players that are useful to other clubs, players that bring in some impressive transfer fees. The money we’ve made off Bournemouth for instance, in recent seasons, has been quite stunning.
One of the side-effects of success is that your bit-part contributors increase in value, as they have been witnesses of glory.
Everton’s last great vintage was partly powered by players who had been backing dancers at Anfield: Kevin Sheedy, Dave Watson and Alan Harper all served Howard Kendall well, having struggled to find their way at Anfield.
They were brilliant by process of the connection to Europe’s best team. Thus, other teams signed them in the hope that some magic was as transferable, as the carbon lifeform of player was.
A draw at home to Burnley or not reaching 100 points changes none of this. When it comes to this Liverpool, Rome wasn’t built in a day and it will take more than a draw at home to a decent team to see it crumble.
No Need for Schisms
There seems to have been a vague schism between some Liverpool supporters between using these last few belated games of 2019/20 to either chase records in the here and now or to use them as building blocks to be launching ourselves into next season and beyond.
Here’s an idea though, they can be used to serve both purposes.