Anthony McIntyre is unruffled by Liverpool FC's recent run of poor results.

There have been some wobbles of late, but this season’s Liverpool team have the coveted Premier League title after a thirty-year absence from the top drawer of British soccer. Not yet in the bag to take home it has been paid for handsomely in advance, no longer on display in the shop window for another bidder to try their luck. A one-horse race, what is left in the field courtesy of arithmetic has neither the clout nor the capability to affect the outcome. Mane not Math makes the difference.

Defeat to some side beneath it – there is no other - was always going to happen this season. Watford was the lair from which the Venus Flytrap would snatch an unsuspecting liver bird, out for an easy meal. What a salutary invitation that was to solve the conundrum of how to expect what you don’t expect. The outcome, given the respective placings of both clubs in the league table, was the bigger surprise. It did not flatter Watford but was an accurate reflection of the respective overperformance and underperformance on the day.

Defeat was always on the cards because this current Liverpool side have for the most part scrapped and scraped for its victories. They have won with plodding determination, rather than flair and fluency. Despite being world champions, they have not remotely come close to serving up the hi octane panache of the great Barcelona side. Often, they have been pedestrian as they rode their good fortune, waiting until sunset before swooping on their prey, yet all the time flying precariously close to the sun. At Vicarage Road they finally got burned, and bad.

It is inevitable they will become champions. It was also inevitable that as a result of too many close encounters the moment would emerge where the late redeeming finish was not to come, the clock would run out, chiming with the abracadabra minute of magic being replaced with mediocrity. Throughout the season the difference in league points was rarely made manifest on the day, where Liverpool frequently chiselled out a points victory rather than land a clear knockout. It was a team that game-to-game only occasionally looked vastly superior to the opposition. The label “Invincible” given to it by a media depicted the team strutting like a peacock when frequently it played like a pig. But that is what makes for soccer, the grind not the grandeur.

For Liverpool the failure at Watford was systemic: worst display of the season at either end of the field. The FC Cup defeat to Chelsea, nowhere near as sobering. Saturday’s 2-1 home win against strugglers makes the fan glad Bournemouth was the opposition. The real test of this team’s mettle will come against Atletico Madrid not perennial relegation battlers. Still it is nothing for LFC fans to get worried about as far as the English Premiership is concerned. It is too late in the day for that. Failure now can only come from a cataclysmic collapse not of football’s making. If the Premiership does not go to Anfield it will go nowhere else other than the Corona trophy cabinet.

The chances of the Corona virus bringing the curtain down on proceedings remains very low. It is hard to see soccer fixtures being banned within the next couple of weeks. But depending on the seriousness of the situation, the UK government might feel compelled to have sans spectator matches, much like Italy did yesterday. France too has taken to limiting crowd size to 1000. That would be an enormous blow to the fans: a huge deflation of the spectacle, the anti-climax when the summit was reached but there was nothing on top but health warnings. Not even a victory parade through the city of the liver bird – again because of the health risk association with crowds.

The fans merit the sweet taste of success. Maligned and lied about for years by police and press, the “fuck you” moment is tantalisingly close. The team will deliver the Inevitable, which is all it promised, not the Invincible. Liverpool should administer the coup de grâce and quickly: step up before shut down is complete. Even if some fans don’t get to savour the victory for long, they will have at least lived long enough to see it.

Mane Not Math

Anthony McIntyre is unruffled by Liverpool FC's recent run of poor results.

There have been some wobbles of late, but this season’s Liverpool team have the coveted Premier League title after a thirty-year absence from the top drawer of British soccer. Not yet in the bag to take home it has been paid for handsomely in advance, no longer on display in the shop window for another bidder to try their luck. A one-horse race, what is left in the field courtesy of arithmetic has neither the clout nor the capability to affect the outcome. Mane not Math makes the difference.

Defeat to some side beneath it – there is no other - was always going to happen this season. Watford was the lair from which the Venus Flytrap would snatch an unsuspecting liver bird, out for an easy meal. What a salutary invitation that was to solve the conundrum of how to expect what you don’t expect. The outcome, given the respective placings of both clubs in the league table, was the bigger surprise. It did not flatter Watford but was an accurate reflection of the respective overperformance and underperformance on the day.

Defeat was always on the cards because this current Liverpool side have for the most part scrapped and scraped for its victories. They have won with plodding determination, rather than flair and fluency. Despite being world champions, they have not remotely come close to serving up the hi octane panache of the great Barcelona side. Often, they have been pedestrian as they rode their good fortune, waiting until sunset before swooping on their prey, yet all the time flying precariously close to the sun. At Vicarage Road they finally got burned, and bad.

It is inevitable they will become champions. It was also inevitable that as a result of too many close encounters the moment would emerge where the late redeeming finish was not to come, the clock would run out, chiming with the abracadabra minute of magic being replaced with mediocrity. Throughout the season the difference in league points was rarely made manifest on the day, where Liverpool frequently chiselled out a points victory rather than land a clear knockout. It was a team that game-to-game only occasionally looked vastly superior to the opposition. The label “Invincible” given to it by a media depicted the team strutting like a peacock when frequently it played like a pig. But that is what makes for soccer, the grind not the grandeur.

For Liverpool the failure at Watford was systemic: worst display of the season at either end of the field. The FC Cup defeat to Chelsea, nowhere near as sobering. Saturday’s 2-1 home win against strugglers makes the fan glad Bournemouth was the opposition. The real test of this team’s mettle will come against Atletico Madrid not perennial relegation battlers. Still it is nothing for LFC fans to get worried about as far as the English Premiership is concerned. It is too late in the day for that. Failure now can only come from a cataclysmic collapse not of football’s making. If the Premiership does not go to Anfield it will go nowhere else other than the Corona trophy cabinet.

The chances of the Corona virus bringing the curtain down on proceedings remains very low. It is hard to see soccer fixtures being banned within the next couple of weeks. But depending on the seriousness of the situation, the UK government might feel compelled to have sans spectator matches, much like Italy did yesterday. France too has taken to limiting crowd size to 1000. That would be an enormous blow to the fans: a huge deflation of the spectacle, the anti-climax when the summit was reached but there was nothing on top but health warnings. Not even a victory parade through the city of the liver bird – again because of the health risk association with crowds.

The fans merit the sweet taste of success. Maligned and lied about for years by police and press, the “fuck you” moment is tantalisingly close. The team will deliver the Inevitable, which is all it promised, not the Invincible. Liverpool should administer the coup de grâce and quickly: step up before shut down is complete. Even if some fans don’t get to savour the victory for long, they will have at least lived long enough to see it.

5 comments:

  1. Drastic action must be taken, all league games are to be cancelled and this season to be null and void accordingly--- The United fans wet dream lol

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  2. Sans spectator matches and total lock-downs in high-rate infection areas aren't that far away!

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  3. Chisselling out routine victories is the unsexy but very necessary elemnet in winning titles. Congratulations is advance to Liverpool; I do not want to tempt fate by saying I expect to see my lot playing you guys in the Prem next season despite our five match winning run!

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  4. Liverpool have had a dream season, and this recent lull is probably only a temporary trough before league triumph. We'll just have to wait and see how the return leg against an extremely good Athletico Madrid side goes.

    I watched the first leg in Granada, Nicaragua outside an "Irish" pub called O'Shea's. The place is on Granada's main drag, an area that was aflame in 1856 when William Walker torched the town while in retreat from Cornelius Vanderbilt's mercenaries. Walker's lieutenant was an Englishman named Henningsen. I watched the match outside on the street and talked to the waiter in Spanish about Liverpool and their recent successes as we lamented our beloved Barça's waning fortunes. It was one of those dream moments for me: a gringo given the chance to talk about English football with a Nicaraguan in Spanish, Spanish a gift from my ex-wife, a Cuban exile, who as an infant left Cuba because Che told her father to shift it, that he and his family needed to pack a few things and leave Cuba and their bourgeois life behind. Yeah, that Che.

    Football and language are passports. Life is weird and wonderful if you make it so. Good luck to Liverpool.

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  5. City lose to Arsenal and Burnley. The title comes home on sat evening.
    If not, then Monday @ Goodison or Anfield on sat week.
    Don’t see any Champions lge quarter finals being played in early April.
    If the Reds didn't have a record points difference with second spot, it's possible that the league would be declared void with no winner.
    Who would qualify for Europe next season?
    Klopp makes it look easy. One of the three best teams post 1990, on a par with the ✌ Man utd Champions lge and title winning sides from 99 - 01 and 07 - 11. 😁

    ReplyDelete