Liverpool and Man City played out a captivating 2-2 draw of the highest quality on Sunday, with the Reds now tasked with pulling off their greatest league success…
Honors even at Eastlands, and amongst many Reds there is a job lot of self-reflection going on.
It’s all a bit unnecessary, though, as sometimes the only important thing is making it through to the final whistle in one piece and being able to fight another day.
At some point or another on Sunday, every Liverpool player was a villain; at one stage or another at the home of Man City, each Liverpool player hung themselves out to dry.
It all just worked on a sliding scale, as some played the villain more than they did the hero, while others were predominantly heroic, with subtle hints of villainy.
It is an overly demanding gallery that passes damning verdicts on player performances on an occasion like we watch on Sunday, a game which conjured up an almost carbon-copy fixture to the one played out at Anfield earlier in the season.
The home side twice takes the lead, only to be twice pegged back by the visitors. The home side then squanders a golden opportunity toward the end of proceedings to take all three points on offer.
Mutual respect is then shared between the two managers, but not the opposing supporters, who indulge in the traditional footballing pantomime rituals before agreeing to go at it all over again in six days’ time, via some important European engagements.
If you can’t enjoy this, then maybe football simply isn’t your thing.
Noses have been put out of joint. Jamie Carragher declaring these two teams to be the greatest of the Premier League has ever known has really upset a lot of people.
Man United supporters have responded to the stinging palm print left on their collective cheek by throwing their toys out of the pram. Comedy gold has ensued.
It is painful to have once been the alpha club, only to fall into a period of irrelevancy. We’ve been there ourselves.
We’ve sat there, watching a hugely significant occasion between two teams from cities other than our own, as they play out ‘the biggest game of the season’, while we are cast aside as yesterday’s team, badly out of fashion, struggling for contemporary ideas and perpetually finding the highlights of our games tipping up somewhere between fourth and sixth on the Match of the Day running order.
That’s if not avoiding the program entirely.
When it’s like that, you just can’t summon up the graciousness to acknowledge the greatness that is unfolding in front of your own eyes.
Eventually, you stop watching other teams play, opting instead for blinkers, or in cases of extreme provocation, curling into the foetal position and calling all modern football shite.
The congregation at Old Trafford now lament the end of the 1990s, in the same way we used to mourn the end of the 1980s, at least in footballing terms, as if it were some sort of lost utopia — whereas, from our perspective, it stank.
It was a decade in which we yearned to be involved in such high stakes once more yet finding ourselves left with only daydreams of the past and forlorn hopes of a brighter tomorrow, only to be dealt another false dawn, from where nothing more than derision was our prize.
Football is cyclical, though, and one day we will return to the bad old days, while undesirables will rise again to take our place.
Therefore, we must live the now to the utmost. Rides like these have a best before date, and we won’t necessarily notice when we’ve surpassed the moment of zenith.
One day, it will pass us by without proclamation, and we will gradually regress without knowing so, until the damage is irrevocable.
At that point, we will either correct ourselves and rise again swiftly, or paper over the cracks and carry on regardless, until we grind to a halt, unable to master the basics.
While we still have Jurgen Klopp we will remain in safe hands, able to go toe-to-toe with Pep Guardiola, a man who both hates and cherishes facing us. Every time he looks in the mirror, it is Liverpool FC that stars back at him – a club I’m sure he would love to manage one day.
On Sunday, it was never going to be easy, you know, going into the lair of the Premier League leaders, the defending champions, and coming away with our wider aspirations still intact.
Yes, a win would have been invaluable, and given we didn’t get one, our end-of-season fate is not in our own hands as far as the Premier League is concerned.
Seven games to go, the two main protagonists split by just one point, the leaders with the easier looking run-in, but having thrown away a 14-point advantage.
If Liverpool prevail from here, it will not only be deserved, but it will also be the greatest of all our league title successes.
We have our work cut out. But if any team can do it, then it is this Liverpool of ours.