Neil Atkinson @Knox_Harrington
AS I often remark to you in this newsletter, I am aware how odd my job is, how lucky we are to get do it and so on.
There is something strange, though, in being mildly irritated with Liverpool failing to beat Everton because it plays havoc with my scheduling plans.
But, in a sense, it plays havoc with all our scheduling plans. This is the oddity of the timeframe we are in. People are watching the game in curious circumstances and, as Ben Johnson just remarked on the free show, you need to plan just getting a drink, let alone how to celebrate a 30-year wait coming to an end.
This, though, is irrelevant to the sporting institution which is Liverpool Football Club. They will be eager to get the league in the bag but clearly have another separate agenda around caring for their players and getting them through this run of games. They have their own scheduling plans.
It was a difficult game to watch, in a sense. Not because it was unlike Merseyside Derbies past, but because it was so very much like Liverpool’s last six visits to Goodison Park. A lot of what I hoped would be different wasn’t.
It started as a cagey affair and just got cagier. For both sides, the reward of victory was dwarfed by the risk of defeat and, barring a small foray towards the end of the game when Everton were unfortunate not to score, the lack of a crowd did help The Blues sit in and mark space. Mason Holgate was especially good across the 90 minutes.
These games have followed the same pattern – you have to go back to 2013 for the last time Liverpool have attacked well at Goodison Park – and a similar one to Liverpool’s games at Old Trafford.
It is a perfectly mature position for a manager to be relatively happy with a point at our direct rival’s ground. It really is. It just isn’t that much of a laugh unless you get the late goal a la Sadio Mane in 2016.
All of this is another way the Liverpool manager seems reminiscent of Alex Ferguson. He spent most of the period between 2000 and 2012 happy to set up any away game against Liverpool to frustrate, match up and see if anything drops his way.
Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. It’s mature. It’s understandable. Not every game has to leave you lightheaded.
But Sunday night, first treat back, it was a bit of a shame. We’ll shake it off soon enough, we’ll get ourselves back in our groove in general and at some point we will clinch that title.
Liverpool will run to their schedule. They will, as ever, have their plan. The plan has brought us to the edge of the most fabulous dance.
The plan is what has brought us. It will get finished soon enough.
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