Jurgen Klopp gives Liverpool a wave of optimism despite two straight draws, while Mamadou Sakho showed why he should be captain, writes Dave Tindall.
In his weekly Liverpool blog, lifelong Reds fan Dave takes the positives despite his team being held to a 1-1 draw by Rubin Kazan.
Perception counts for an awful lot in football.
And that’s why, like most Liverpool fans, I don’t have a problem with my team drawing for the seventh time in eight games on Thursday night.
Had I watched the match with the sound turned down (I wish I did after enduring Owen Hargreaves for 90 minutes) and had just come back from a two-week trek through the jungle and was oblivious to any news about managerial changes, a feeling of despair would be sweeping over me.
Yet another bloody 1-1 draw. The fifth in six games. The third in three matches against mediocre opposition in the Europa League.
How will Liverpool do under Jurgen Klopp this season?
But with Jurgen Klopp in charge, I watch the match through the prism of hope rather than despair. I look for the good and endure the bad. I think about what Liverpool might become, not what they once were (oh so tragically close to the Premier League title with Luis Suarez running amok).
So a 1-1 draw against a 10-man team from Russia who have been useless in their home league this season represents not another lurch into crisis but a step forward with more clues for our new manager to solve and unravel. Because he will. Boring as it sounds, it will just take time.
So what did we learn at Anfield on Thursday night?
For starters, don’t listen to BT pundit Steve McManaman if he tells you where to put your money. I loved him as a player but what evidence was he using to predict that Liverpool were suddenly going to win “four or five nil”. Are you in a time-warp Steve? The only thing suggesting these were the glory days of the late 70s and early 80s was the opposition manager’s mullet.
Perhaps the biggest thing from Thursday night was further confirmation that Liverpool fans know they have a player who could develop into something fantastic. Nope, I’m not thinking of Philippe Coutinho although I hope he might. I’m talking Mamadou Sakho.
The Frenchman, yet again, showed all the attributes you want from a centre-back – leadership, composure and an ever-growing rapport with the fans. Those at Anfield on Thursday will tell you that it was Sakho’s voice pumping out instructions to the Reds defence all night. The stats will tell you that he won 13 duels, five more than anyone else on the pitch. And your own eyes will tell you that he was Liverpool’s best player, not only taking care of his defensive duties with gusto but repeatedly distributing the ball with an obvious and extra touch of class.
What on earth was Brendan Rodgers thinking by leaving him out in favour of Dejan Lovren? The Kop are falling in love with Sakho and the feeling is mutual. They sing his name; he salutes them back.
Come on Jurgen, lad, do the decent thing and make him captain. It would inject another burst of freshness into the club because, let’s face it, James Milner isn’t really cutting the mustard. I’m sure Milner is a good talker, motivator and excellent dressing room presence and all that but we want someone to lead by example. That man is Sakho.
Others to emerge with credit? Adam Lallana was again sprightly and bouncy and twisty and positive while Alberto Moreno looks to have matured after his mixed first season at Anfield and appears a natural fit for Klopp’s high-intensity football. Emre Can wasn’t perfect – he allowed Oleg Kuzmin to drift past him and make the cross for the goal while his lack of tracking almost allowed Rubin a second – but he scored the equaliser, made some crunching tackles and lifted the team, and crowd, with his energy.
Elsewhere, Lucas was better than Joe Allen, Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino were both understandably rusty after injury layoffs while Simon Mignolet, who had no chance with Marko Devic’s superbly-taken goal, again showed his worth as a high-class shotstopper at a vital time.
But, as this is still very much the Jurgen Klopp show, the biggest thrill from last night was seeing our new German manager celebrate a Liverpool goal.
We’d waited over two hours (the 90-minute blank at Spurs plus the first 37 minutes at Anfield) and he didn’t disappoint. For a split second, it appeared he was doing the ‘Y’ of YMCA but when he realised it wasn’t offside, Klopp let himself go, releasing a testosterone-filled fist-pump towards his worshipping fans. It felt good.
More of those please Jurgen, starting with Sunday’s home game with Southampton.
Then again, where we are right now and the fact that Saints are unbeaten on the road this season, it wouldn’t exactly be the worst move to have a few quid on another 1-1 draw at 13/2.
Agree with Dave’s assessments? Discuss the article and other issues at Anfield on the Liverpool Your Say forum.