While the world loses its mind over an Alisson save that a pub goalkeeper could have performed, Liverpool celebrate potentially losing the Premier League title
Maybe the Tweeter was on a work experience placement. Maybe he or she just hadn’t seen a lot of football. Perhaps the tension got to them.
Wow. Just, wow. ? pic.twitter.com/n7hu8XuAfT
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 11, 2018
Is it fair to hammer a club’s social media operative for something tweeted in haste, in the heat of the moment? No, but let’s do it anyway.
In stoppage time at Anfield last night, with Liverpool leading Napoli by the 1-0 scoreline that would ensure they qualified for the knock-out stages at the expense of their opponents, the Italian side mounted one of their first coherent attacks of the entire night.
A ball was floated into the penalty area, where Arkadiusz Milik found himself unmarked. He took a single touch, then got a shot off as a defender closed in. It was a poor effort, which hit Alisson Becker on the thigh, before flicking up on to his hand and away to safety.
Alisson, signed for £67 million, from Napoli, this summer, had done his job: he instinctively narrowed the angle as much as possible and kept the ball out. It was important all right, but it was also the kind of save a non-league keeper, or even Loris Karius might have made.
England is losing its mind at the moment so it isn’t fair to blame Alisson for the reaction, but anyone would think he’d just recreated Gordon Banks’ fabled save from Pele at the 1970 World Cup.
Jurgen Klopp, a man who habitually keeps things in perspective, said it was: “The save of the season. I have no clue how he made that save.” Yeah, he just got in the way, mate.
The British press were similarly low-key.
Is it fair to hammer reporters working under the pressure of meeting deadlines? No, but let’s do it anyway.
The Guardian said: “Alisson’s save from Arkadiusz Milik was a mind-bending piece of brilliance.” The Telegraph claimed Liverpool were “stunningly indebted to goalkeeper Alisson.”
Even the official UEFA twitter account got in on the act, talking about “THAT save” as if the Brazilian had done something more than get in the way of a ball fired from a distance of about a metre away.
Tottenham’s joy at qualifying was more understandable, although they probably should have beaten a Barcelona side so disinterested they even allowed Thomas Vermaelen to play.
The paradox for both sides is that UEFA’s policy of rewarding failure means both sides would have increased their chances of actually winning something this season if they’d finished third in the respective groups and dropped into the far weaker Europa League.
Liverpool have won a solitary League Cup in the last 12 years. Tottenham haven’t won anything apart from the League Cup since 1991. Both sides will now end up stretched at a crucial stage in the season. Liverpool look realistic title challengers and Tottenham are a good bet for the top four, but for the latter in particular the dilemma is identical to that faced by Arsenal during Arsene Wenger’s later years, when finishing fourth at the expense of all other considerations, specifically winning trophies, drove the fan base into open revolt.
Mauricio Pochettino celebrated with Un-Klopp-like restraint and, like Jose Mourinho, is starting to master the complexities of English humour.
Asked if he was aware that his predecessor, Harry Redknapp, had won a reality TV show set in Australia, he looked bemused and had to wait for a translator to explain to him that the show involved celebrities spending a month in a jungle and living off a diet of bugs and blended camel foreskin.
“That’s one trophy for us, at least,” he said. “Come on!”
It might be damning him with faint praise to suggest that Pochettino is currently the sanest man in England.