"We Have to be Disappointed"

Alex Livesey

Pepe Reina made some glowing post-match comments about his opposite number, but the most important ones are those he reserved for his own side, which get at the need for balance between realistic expectations and those that demand Liverpool match their illustrious history.

"It happens in football sometimes when the opposition goalkeeper can have a day like that but we are frustrated not to have got the three points. The game was more open in the second half and we had enough chances to win it, so we have to be disappointed."

--Pepe Reina

Alex McCarthy's display will go down as one of the more memorable of the Premier League season, both because of the high level of quality and that it came against Liverpool, who manage to inspire glee in most opposition supporters when they're struggling most. And they struggled plenty at Reading on Saturday afternoon, failing to find away around or through McCarthy on the day, ultimately having to settle--or being fortunate to settle--for a 0-0 draw ahead of a three-week stretch that sees them host Chelsea and Everton in the season's final meaningful matches.

What should also get at least a share of the press is the general sense of disappointment that's lingered in the hours since the final whistle at the Madejski. I don't have any time for the panic or shouting about who's in the wrong spot to do what with whatever, because that's mostly just attention-seeking and whinging that isn't going to go away until Liverpool win every match in every competition forever.

I'm talking about the disappointment shared by Brendan Rodgers and nearly every Liverpool squad member that found themselves in front of a microphone in the 24 hours or so since the match ended. A frequent point of contention is the idea that Liverpool should be expecting to win every match, or that they somehow deserve to because...because. Any result that doesn't match that expectation signifies failure, and in a stretch of seasons that's seen so much failure, the obvious worry is that the expectations have now been lowered, and that's simply not acceptable because etc. etc.

The problem is that Liverpool very likely need to lower their expectations while also aspiring to the type of greatness that colors their history. It's got to be a difficult line to walk; acknowledging that they're not in a place to challenge and mistakes will be made from top to bottom while still giving lip service and recognition to the fact that everyone of a red persuasion is going to expect and demand a return to the aforementioned greatness.

So yesterday's result was one that, as Reina mentions, should inspire frustration and disappointment in Liverpool and their supporters. The chances were there to be taken regardless of whether or not Alex McCarthy had perfected his Expelliarmus charm. Twenty-eight shots and eleven on goal should be enough, and that they weren't is disappointing.

What it's not is cause for panic or a complete overhaul of everything having to do with Liverpool both on-pitch and off. We've been there already in the past few years--it's not pretty, and it certainly doesn't guarantee any type of immediate success. Maybe it's naive, but right we have to hope that as frustrating as it might be, we're in the midst of longer-term progress, which obviously isn't going to come without it's bumps and bruises.

Those will be disappointing, for sure, but it doesn't mean the sky is falling. Or maybe it does. Just wait until next week.

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