Asking for doors to be kicked in, and actually seeing them be kicked in are usually two entirely different matters when it comes to Liverpool FC.
We kicked the doors in at Swansea City on Saturday. We kicked the doors in at home to Hull City seven days earlier. Each of those doors were kicked in in entirely different ways, but they were kicked in all the same. Potentially awkward games, the type of games we haven’t always got to grips with. Other versions of Liverpool would have lost at Swansea on a day like this, while other versions of Liverpool would have drawn at home to Hull.
Six points from a possible six points against Hull and Swansea. This is a bigger statement of intent than winning at Arsenal and Chelsea is. It would have been very Liverpool of us had we only garnered one point from these last two games.
Winning at Arsenal and Chelsea is tantamount to fine dining. It’s booking a table a few weeks in advance, at that fancy new establishment that used to be a church, it’s roping in a babysitter, it’s digging out your best clothes and making an occasion of it, it’s driving there and leaving the car to collect the following day so you can both drink, it’s drinking that interesting looking Mongolia bottled lager that tastes a bit too yeasty and saying it’s nice, when it’s really pretty rank.
Winning at home to Hull and away to Swansea in quick succession is tantamount to a trip to the dentist, while you’re simultaneously awaiting a result on your MOT. You hope for the best, you know you really should sail through both appointments, but you brace yourself and fear the worst, because you’ve been here many times before and you’ve got the fillings and the squeaky clutch to prove it.
Squeaky clutch time.
It was ugly at Swansea; at times it was incoherent. How very Liverpool of us to be seemingly helping out a manager that’s reportedly on the brink of the sack? Did Roberto Firmino really intend to be so deft with the header which procured our equaliser, or did he make less contact than he actually meant to?
Not that it matters like, but had he made fuller contact with the ball then it probably doesn’t go in.
Firmino plays with joy. That smile of his is irresistible. First and foremost, he wants to win, but if he can do it with style, ebullience and an outrageous flourish, then all the better. This is the first football we’ve consistently played with a smile on our face, since Luis Suarez left for Barcelona. There were sporadic signs of it last season, but this feels a little bit real all of a sudden. It’s starting to feel like we really mean it. It’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas.
James Milner is bringing a smile to the face. Phil Neal’esqe in his command of the penalty spot from a full-back position and not yielding to the same weaknesses that Alberto Moreno seemed to be. He struck the image of a Roman senator in celebration of his coolly slotted winning goal. Milner is fast proving himself to be yet another of those instances when our best left backs are actually airdropped in from other positions.
Since Jim Beglin’s career was effectively ended almost 30 years ago we’ve struggled to fill the position. Our best left backs have arguably been right backs or centre backs. Steve Nicol, Mark Lawrenson, Rob Jones, Jamie Carragher, Alvaro Arbeloa and even Glen Johnson have plugged the left back gap better than many of the natural career left backs we’ve tried out. Three decades of natural born left backs, when you can only really point to the injury plagued Fabio Aurelio as being the pick of the bunch. We’d kill for a peak Steve Staunton or David Burrows in retrospect.
So, here we are once again with another impressive ‘makeshift’ left back in the shape of Milner. Let’s run with it. If we can’t sign a left back of purpose, then why not cobble one together?
With my hipster hat on, Milner at left back is all a little bit Stanley Brard, but in reverse.
Stanley Brard was a workmanlike Feyenoord left back, but one which was played as a left winger at the behest of Johan Cryuff, during the Dutch legends one and only season with them as a player. Released by Ajax, Cryuff took his talents to Rotterdam for one last season before retirement. Cryuff reasoned that if Brard was deployed high up the pitch, then it would restrict opposing sides attacking down their own right wing. Cryuff in turn wouldn’t need to track back very often.
The ploy worked and Feyenoord and Cryuff won the league and cup double in repost to Ajax letting him go.
Milner is arguably Brard in reverse. Deployed at left back, yet often seen as the furthest man forward. It’s a ploy which gives opponents second thoughts on ploughing forward down their own right wing.
Nothing in football is new. Everything is recycled.
While Milner was busy being empirical, we were however all too statuesque during the conceding of the opening goal and Loris Karius is going to have to learn fast about when to come and when not to, if that near miss at the end for Swansea is anything to go by. The first mumblings of discontent are emerging about him and some are questioning if Simon Mignolet should come back against Manchester United two weeks today.
No, Mignolet shouldn’t come back in.
Don’t make outward concessions, just because it’s Manchester United.
On. The. Front. Foot.
Here comes the international break.
Over the horizon comes ‘them’.
Be big, be bold, be on the front foot, do the right things well, keep the unforced errors to a minimum and we will beat ‘them’ because we are better than ‘them’.
A new door to kick in and this one could be a revolving one. Kick it hard enough and it might just hit Jose Mourinho and his collection of individuals on the way back out.