I watched Liverpool lose their fifth consecutive home game in the EPL last night. One of the best teams in Europe over the last four years, which famously benefits from fan motivation, sit seventh in the table and out of a European spot for next season.
Even on current form, Liverpool would destroy Celtic, but the parallels in the two clubs decline are clear. Virgil van Dijk’s injury enforced absence at Anfield had as big an impact on Liverpool as Fraser Forster’s loss to Celtic. Both sides lost significant numbers through injury and, if anything, Celtic fans have a greater reputation for encouraging their team than Liverpool’s.
Jurgen Klopp, the urbane football intellectual, looks lost. We see unflattering bouts of temper as he struggles to understand where his Midas Touch went. Jurgen is among the game’s very best; Neil Lennon should take comfort that what happened to him can happen to anyone.
You and I have often said that a team operating at 90% is unrecognisable from the same players at full tilt. When one or two things go wrong at the margins, an entire edifice can crumble. Watching Liverpool also suffer does not sweeten the pill, but it is a lesson that football can destroy even the finest spreadsheets.