‘The Fun Is in The Building’.
I must have imagined it.
I was convinced ‘The Fun Is in The Building’ used to be an old Meccano slogan from the 1980s. It appears that it wasn’t.
Pride Park, or ‘The iPro’ as they insist upon calling it these days was more or less the original Meccano ground. Cold, lacking in soul, unimaginative, in the middle of nowhere, closer to retail outlets than houses, yet something which many other football clubs aspired to.
It’s an awful place, populated by a reasonable amount of awful people.
“Sign On” will always live on around these parts. It’s almost been a decade since they last ‘graced’ the top-flight, during that epically woeful season when they limped back into ‘The Championship’ with the grand total of one win and just 11 points all season.
Meccano slogan or not, the fun really is in the building.
The fun is in the building of this Liverpool team. Loris Karius and Marko Grujic are the really interesting movers and shakers this time around. Karius didn’t have much to do, but a clean sheet on your debut can’t be sniffed at, despite partaking in a small number of questionable manoeuvres that Simon Mignolet would’ve got slaughtered for. Joyously however, Karius ‘idling’ position when the ball is up the other end of the pitch seems to be on the outskirts of the centre circle. I don’t think he’s going to pan out as being a ‘shot-stopper’.
Grujic did the basics right. If he continues doing that, then we’ll get on just fine with him.
Ragnar Klavan is going to be a bi-polar performer. He’ll score a goal and then offset that with a range of scatter-gun passes in our own half of the pitch. He’s going to be more of a Mauricio Pellegrino or Sotirios Kyrgiakos, than he is a Sami Hyypia. Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren is definitely the way to go, unless Mamadou Sakho can claw his way back from the brink. I can kind of see why Klavan was sceptical that it was Jürgen Klopp on the end of his phone during the summer.
Alberto Moreno getting a game smacked of James Milner being given a breather.
Jordan Henderson is starting to do that pitch-wide strut-jog thing he does. Never is there a bigger tell-tale sign that he’s getting back to his peak performance levels than the re-emergence of his awkward gait. You’ve just got to love that awkward gait. Great things will come through that awkward gait. All hail the gait.
Divock Origi will have more games like this. Powerful and direct. He hurts defenders when he plays like this. He can be a very useful building block. While there’s a Daniel Sturridge however, it will be baby steps forward. That great leap forth may be denied him. A 21st century David Fairclough in the making perhaps.
Fine inter-play between Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino was a fine thing to see, rather than one or the other taking the lead role. They linked together as well here as they have in any other game arguably. I would like to know why Coutinho suddenly looks grumpy on the pitch as often as he does though. It makes him look as if something is troubling him. I hope something isn’t troubling him.
Nathaniel Clyne and Lucas drifted through the game in the best way possible. They offered that comforting invisibility which meant they were perfectly on mission.
The fun really is in the building.
I’d imagine our two most interesting new views from this one, in the shapes of Karius and Grujic, will be watching on from the side-lines once again when Hull City roll into Anfield on Saturday. Another chance will come soon though. If I’m honest about it, I’m happy for them to be keeping more of a watching brief for now.
We’re ticking along quite nicely and the while you can point to most clusters of games as being a ‘test’ it will be a bit of a ‘test’ to see if we can maintain our intensity during the next two league games. Hull at home and Swansea City away aren’t going to make for natural self-combustibility. There are wins to be claimed, but just as with the trip to Burnley, they are wins that need to be ripped from potentially stubborn grips. They won’t just come to us; we will have to fight for them. Hull and Swansea are the ‘fighting with lions’ sort of games you have to dominate, if you are to win a league title.
We seem to be prospering in the games you can class as being a ‘dance-off’. Arsenal, Spurs, Leicester City and Chelsea. Hull and Swansea will have more in common with Burnley. These games are going to be a test of our ruthlessness. Have we taken on-board the lessons given to us at Turf Moor? Previous incarnations of Liverpool FC struggled to heed the lessons administered on days like those. How about this Liverpool though?
By the time we stop for yet another international break in 10 days’ time we’ll be armed with a better all-round idea of where we really stand in the great scheme of things.
This was a good performance and a good win. Then you suddenly remember that Sadio Mane played no part in it at all, you suddenly remember that Sadio Mane is a Liverpool player, and he’s only going to come back with a hunger to show he can do even better than those who did play in this one.
The fun really is in the building.