Norwich 4 Liverpool 5: Riding the whirlwind
Pacing back and forth and getting irritable with the kids. Telling the wife to leave the room because she’s a jinx. Putting your phone down in disgust and then picking it up again two seconds later. Falling to your knees in despair and then screaming so loud that the neighbours debate calling the police. A descent into psychosis? No it ‘s just 95 minutes following Liverpool F.C.
A rainy day indoors without BT Sport meant I spent an afternoon flipping between stuttering streams and following the game via my twitter timeline. This is not good for your mental health at the best of times, but the game against Norwich almost drove me over the edge.
Our form is such this season that no game can be taken for granted. Even when we do go ahead there is still the lingering inevitability of an equalizer. It comes to something when you read tweets stating “we need a fifth here to make it safe.” Yet that’s exactly how all Reds undoubtedly felt when James Milner hauled Liverpool back into the lead on 75 minutes.
Milner had been on the end of some relentless cyber stick during the game and I confess I found his goal all the more satisfying for it. The vines showed he had taken it really well. Not so an earlier chance he had spurned though. I was told his effort was pathetic and a sign of his lack of quality. However after reviewing the evidence on ‘Match of The Day’ I think I’d prefer to give the defender credit, rather than slate the man in Red.
Our new number 7 probably isn’t what we need to take us forward. Let’s face it there is a host of players in this squad who won’t be part Jurgen Klopp’s future plans. Our defence is a creaking wreck, the midfield are just shadows at times and most of our strikers are in rehab, while the one who isn’t looks like he should be.
Liverpool have been in transition for so long now that at times we don’t know what they are, or what they’re meant to become. So, when Firmino got them off the mark in under 20 minutes I was far from comfortable.
Every man and his dog knows that all it takes is a set piece, or a ball lobbed carelessly in or around the Liverpool box and pandemonium will ensue. Klopp himself described our defending as rubbish. “You don’t have to create anything against us” he said in his post match conference. How refreshing that he seems to know exactly what’s wrong and what a shame he can’t sort it out in this window.
Liverpool’s lead lasted just over 10 minutes, and not a Red in the land was even the slightest bit surprised that it came from our complete inability to deal with a set piece. Corners are like ‘Kryptonite’ to Simon Mignolet and his hapless side-kicks and it’s not funny any more.
You’d think we’d work on this obvious Achilles heal. Maybe we do, but whatever we’re doing at Melwood it’s not working. Norwich are a poor team, but you don’t have to be a decent team to score against Liverpool these days as Exeter City proved.
Then came another set-piece and another goal, meaning The Reds would end the half behind. Of all players, it had to be Naismith. The former blue had spoken of his desire to score against Liverpool. His celebration showed just how much he relished upsetting the old enemy.
Cue a global outpouring of grief, wailing and gnashing of teeth. In such moments I never know what to do with myself. Well actually I do, but the trip to Mars is even more hazardous than Liverpool conceding a corner. Half-time would be a painful fifteen minutes, but which Liverpool team would emerge for the second half. With Jurgen’s Reds you’re never quite sure.
In his first interview, Klopp was asked what style of play Liverpool would adopt under his tenure. He replied ‘a wild one’ before breaking into trademark eccentric laughter. As demonstrated by the second half against Norwich, it’s a case of promised and delivered for the German, but not before some more defensive madness.
Nobody could work out what Moreno was thinking when he needlessly upended Naismith in the box. I doubt the player himself can tell us. It was yet another unforced error and this time it threatened to put the game beyond reach for Liverpool.
Of course Hoolahan converted the resultant spot kick and my phone almost went in the bin. I actually turned it off, because I couldn’t face any more text messages from gleeful blues or suicidal reds, but after five minutes of pacing and biting my nails I had to turn it back on.
Annoyingly my twitter feed wouldn’t refresh for a few minutes and I could feel the anxiety bubbling up from deep in my gut. A defeat here would snuff out any lingering dreams of top-four. I just wanted the season to end. Let’s start again please. Then eventually my timeline updated. Was this a wind up? 2-3? I scrolled back in time and saw it was true. Henderson had gone straight up the other end and grabbed one back. Hope.
Suddenly the naysayers had gone quiet and the wide-eyed optimists were in the ascendency. Twitter became a happy place once again. There was even talk of Istanbul style comebacks and other hysterical stuff. Then Firmino struck again. You little f#*@ing beauty. Outside the sky cleared and a little sunshine broke through the dreariness of the day. It probably didn’t but that’s how it felt.
Liverpool weren’t finished yet though. There was more joy to come and just 12 minutes later, although it didn’t seem that long, the much maligned Milner made the most of a one-on-one with the Norwich keeper. I punched the air and screamed YES!!!! The kids watching telly in an other room didn’t flicker. They’ve become accustomed to match-day madness and it’s just white noise to them by now.
3-4! What a game. Liverpool had seemingly snatched a magnificent victory from the gaping maw of defeat. You can’t buy feelings like this. From zero to three points in such a short space of time. It’s what being a football fan is all about. However, we hadn’t seen anything yet.
What followed was the most agonising, nerve shredding fifteen minutes of my life. Probably a massive exaggeration, but you’ll forgive me I’m sure. The hands on the clock seemed to be moving through treacle. My stomach was doing cartwheels and I was pacing so frantically I’d worn a groove in the kitchen floor.
Then the 90 were up. How much injury time would be awarded. Wouldn’t be long surely. Five minutes! Are you kidding me? Where did he get bleeding five minutes from. I realised I had one hand on my phone and was almost tearing my hair out with the other. This was unbearable.
A terrible sense of dread consumed me. Surely Norwich would manage another set-piece near our box in the five minutes that remained. After clawing back the lead, a draw now would seem like the end of the world. I wasn’t sure I could get through this. My heart was pounding and I could feel my face burning. God knows what my blood pressure was.
Then it happened. My first inkling was a tweet that just said “Never mind”. It was quickly followed by a “WTF” then a parade of “”I’m done” and a flotilla of “Kill me now”. I literally sank to my knees, just as the wife walked into the kitchen. “Get up you divvy” she said sympathetically. ‘Don’t poke the bear’ is not a philosophy she subscribes to.
Surely the game is over now. 4-4 what a massive kick in the nuts that is. I was staring down the barrel of one miserable Saturday night and an awful week at work lay ahead. Our league season was over and frankly I was sick of Liverpool, sick of our defence and sick of the world. Yes it was that bad.
The phone lay on the work-top daring me to look at it one more time. Mocking me. I didn’t want to look, but I had to. I’m like an addict. I know it’s bad for my health, but I just had to have another hit.
Trembling, more with rage than anticipation, I picked it up and tapped on the twitter icon one more time. “YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!” That wasn’t me. That was an actual tweet. At first I thought it was old one. Twitter does that to you all the time. A player scores and the several minutes later you’ll come across a celebratory tweet completely out of sync with the new reality.
I quickly checked and and it had actually only been posted 2 seconds ago. Could it be? Surely not. Then I saw a series of “LALLAAAAAAANAAAAAAAAA” tweets and I knew it was for real. The journalists were joining in now, expressing their shock and wonderment at an incredible football moment.
I was dancing around the kitchen and the kids, who’d wandered in to check if this time their Dad had actually lost it, were staring at me with a mixture of embarrassment and faint amusement. 4-5 unbelievable, indescribable and incredible. Joy overflowing. You get the picture.
I took great satisfaction in reading through a succession of delirious posts until I came across one that almost brought me crashing back to earth. “We’re still crap.” I say it almost brought me back to earth, because actually nothing really could in that moment.
There’s a bitter truth in that lonely little tweet. Liverpool are still a bit crap. The defence is a shambles at times. The fact we had to score five at Carrow Road to secure a win says it all. But how can we let that dampen our joy at the win. The sight of Klopp changing from demon to delirium in the space of seconds, as he struggled to comprehend this roller-coaster of a game was something to behold.
There was sure to be an ass kicking in that dressing room if Lallana hadn’t planted the winner in the top right corner. Instead it was hugs all round and broken glasses for the boss. Incredible scenes.
This season we have a free pass. Liverpool clearly won’t win the league. They’re not likely to finish fourth either. Let the boss experiment with the squad and fine tune his master plan for next season. There’s nothing to lose now.
We could choose to be downbeat about that, or we could just strap ourselves in for what promises to be a wild ride. The second half of the season is likely to be a whirlwind. We are still in three cups and who knows where this will lead. Come what may, I’m ready to ride the whirlwind.
This article by me was also published on http://www.thisisanfield.com