YOU’LL NEVER WIN AT HOME
These are difficult times for Liverpool. The club hasn’t won a major trophy for nearly nine months, while it’s now a whopping 22 days since they were deposed as the world’s best club team. To quote the hooked and miffed Mo Salah’s Mr 15%: “.”
To be fair to the club’s supporters, having waited 30 years to once again celebrate as champions, a virus that looks a bit like early-80s Graeme Souness with vengeance on his mind, has denied them the chance to do so. But while fans are permitted to feel down on themselves, there’s no need for the players to be walking around with faces like they’ve just been approached by early-80s Graeme Souness with vengeance on his mind. Which is pretty much what they did on Thursday night, as they meekly scuttled about Anfield, a timid shower, while a markedly more confident Chelsea gegenstrolled their way to a most deserved victory.
Liverpool’s lack of collective belief was best summed up during the last knockings, when Mateo Kovacic saucily pinged the ball off Sadio Mané’s prone noggin. Mané got up with a view to engaging Kovacic in Hegelian dialectic, but while in olden days Souness would have flown in sideways to offer additional intellectual heft to the philosophical back-and-forth, Mané was left to debate the issue by himself. Now, The Fiver always thinks of the children, but brawl and haymakers please! Everyone else in red, thoroughly defeated, let it slide. Yes, yes, these guys are role models, remember that kiddies are watching, but stand by your man will you.
Something doesn’t quite sit right with The Fiver here. What’s going on? “I think we agree it’s a really strange one,” Jurgen Klopp admitted on Friday, still wearing his newly trademarked thousand-yard stare and freshly copyrighted grey pallor. “Football is more rhythm than people think. We’ve never had that to build, we’ve had to change too much. That’s clear.” He illustrated his point further by reporting that Ozan Kabak has a “little problem” and may be replaced for the upcoming Fulham defeat by fellow newcomer Ben Davies, but even so, this lot had a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League in December, after a 7-0 away win to boot, while it’s only been 43 days since they were defending a four-year, 68-game undefeated home record, and now they’re on their worst run at Anfield since 1892.
“We all have to improve, definitely,” sighed Klopp, who is now tasked with solving the most tricky and trippy Mersey-infused poser since John Lennon flung two versions of a song, recorded at varying tempi and in different keys, at Parlophone kn0b-twiddler George Martin, ordering him to meld them together. Liverpool fans will hope Klopp has similar problem-solving talents to the genius producer, whose credits also feature You’ll Never Walk Alone, because … well … there’s always next season … but this is beginning to look serious, and what are the first five words of Strawberry Fields Forever again?
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We’re all disappointed, of course we are, and why wouldn’t we be? It borders on treason, if you like. It’s disgusting … there is a source feeding stuff. We are looking into it to find the culprit” – Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has got the sniffer dogs out and will stop at nothing to find the mole who leaked details of his bust-up with Matt Ritchie to the tabloids.
“After watching Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s current breed of zebras lose their way in the south London mist this week, I think I’ve figured out the reason for Manchester United basing that third strip on those dazzle ships of yore. If the Allies’ ship was painted to disorientate German U-boat commanders by blurring how fast and in which direction it was travelling, might the zebra shirt not have the same effect on the person in the VAR room checking for offside? Modern football is getting too complicated. Next they’ll be employing teams of young women at Bletchley Park to break the codes on Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool corner kicks” – Justin Kavanagh.
“Re: $tevie Mbe having words with the ref at Livingston (yesterday’s Fiver). Was he asking the official to change his tune, perhaps?” – Neale Redington.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day prize is … Neale Redington. But we’ve got book prizes from Monday, courtesy of those kind people at From the Jaws of Victory [UK only, apologies – Fiver Postal Ed], and you can also enter promo code FIVER and get 15% off and free shipping.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Ifab has announced that accidental handball which leads to a teammate scoring or having a scoring opportunity will no longer be considered an offence, from 1 July. Which will be of no consolation whatsoever to Fulham, who were denied a draw against Tottenham by this nonsense disallowing Josh Maja’s equaliser.
David Moyes is getting high off his own supply [not literally – Fiver Lawyers] of West Ham players. “[They] have changed my mentality because now I’m looking up to see how high I can get,” he giggled, scarfing down a bag of Doritos. “I don’t see why we can’t be around those [top four] positions.”
Bobby M will not call up Leeds’ Pascal Struijk for Belgium in order to avoid a lowlands dispute or something. “It looks as if his heart lies with the Netherlands,” he sobbed. “We have to respect that, never mind how interesting his profile is. I don’t want there to be any conflict.”
Michael Keane reckons if Everton qualify for Big Cup it will be all down to the £70m and change the club dropped last summer Carlo Ancelotti’s worldly know-how. “The manager has been there and done it all,” gushed Keane. “Even when we don’t play well we still believe we are going win.”
And $tevie Mbe can’t wait to do some DIY around Ibrox when the Pope’s Newc O’Rangers win a 55th title, potentially as soon as this Sunday. “The important thing is to get that trophy back … knock all the 54s off the walls,” he blabbed, getting his tool kit out.
STILL WANT MORE?
“I never want to miss a minute of football – but I do wonder at what cost.” Burnley captain Ben Mee on the risks of concussion and why he backs restrictions on children heading the ball.
Spurs need balance if they’re to nab a Big Cup place, reckons David Hytner.
Sunday: a short film about football, friendship and talking about feelings.
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