The notion of dualism in the moralistic sense pertains specifically to the two-headed beast of malevolence and benevolence. In various aspects and schools of thought, dualism refers to the existence of two parts that work in conflict or in contrast. In people, duality exists as characteristics or qualities that appear to be in seeming opposition. Often it is easy and comfortable to conveniently apportion a single label but duality is part of the human condition. For dramatic effect, film and television can set opposites against one another. There is a crude and rudimentary perception of light and dark, night and day. Two elements existing together, a necessary state of balance for existence.
An opening parry and thrust lost to time's unforgiving clutches. Dualism. Unicorns. Unicron. The story of the Primes. Liverpool's swift and beautiful summer transfer window. Our Fearless Leader. This was to be written in late July but was postponed until August...sometime. It was going to be done but as my father revels in reminding me, "Going To had a friend and his name was Didn't Do." Curses. September before the international break then, just after the close of the transfer window. That time came and went. Colleagues mentioned something in the editor as if such a miscreant can be relied upon to produce anything of worth. Finally, Aston Villa arrived at Anfield to obliterate any thoughts of finishing a cherished piece. The time had come, returned, posted a note, tapped on the window, reluctantly left a voicemail, turned up at the front door, and even waited outside that coffee shop. No more.
Life doesn't work the way you want it to. Was that saccharine pap lazily plucked from some nondescript film from Hallmark Channel or something? Lose one game at home and all dreams are dashed. Instantly. Irrevocably. Tearing up that Boardwalk Empire is in its final season? It has five seasons and can wrap things up in eight final episodes somewhat definitively. I wouldn't spare a thought for Terence Winter when Joss Whedon's superlative Firefly aired for only one season while Bryan Fuller's delightful Pushing Daisies checked out after a couple of seasons.
Look at Liverpool fans raging against incompetence of such a performance that leaves Brendan Rodgers' side level with Arsenal on points and goal difference, a point behind both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, and a solitary point ahead of historical and geographical rivals Manchester United and Everton. The display against Aston Villa was not something that can be excused away, however, and between the final whistle on Saturday and a belated return to Champions League action on Tuesday, there should be a reckoning of some kind. Maybe.
Everything's the worst? Not quite, yet everything's certainly the same in many ways. Aston Villa arrived on Merseyside and left with more points that Liverpool supporters thought they would. Socked in the stomach without notice, forced to keel over with no block available for protection, and finished off with a ruthless Shoryuken. There's the complete box-set, containing seasons one to three of these abominable happenings. Season 2 showed a brief rally but in each season there were familiar strands. Trailing at half time, looking vulnerable to particular method of Aston Villa attack, pallid probing in attack, absence of atmosphere, and just a depressing sound of points dropping from loose pockets.
Liverpool had strangers in attack and strangers in defence. The performance lacked both the required cohesion and conviction in various areas of the field, yet the Champions League returnees haven't had a disastrous opening to the season given the opposition in the opening four games. Talented players were acquired in the transfer window and the club acted relatively swiftly. Interestingly, the whole transfer window strategy has been questioned after a home defeat to Aston Villa. One wise fellow on twitter replied like he was punching the air when fans were reminded that the talented Lazar Marković would be unavailable for Liverpool's opening Champions League group game. Astounding. A 20-year-old player who has been lively from the bench but underwhelming in his first start against a side that usually trips Liverpool up and skips away whistling the most annoying song you know.
Liverpool are not far behind their rivals after four games, just Chelsea. There are three players who need to make an impact over the coming months and that's Adam Lallana, Mario Balotelli, and Dejan Lovren. Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo have settled in relatively well for young players but the likes of Rickie Lambert, Lazar Marković, Emre Can,and Javier Manquillo can settle in slowly. Age is the main reason. Lambert is a senior player who is an ostensible back up and the three youngsters can be rotated in and out without pressure. Groaning when a young player makes a mistake on his full debut isn't going to help, which is what happened at Anfield with the immensely talented Marković.
Liverpool lost away to Manchester City, dismissed Tottenham at White Hart Lane, struggled to beat Southampton at Anfield, and got suckered (again!) when Paul Lambert's Aston Villa came to town. That looks pretty much like Liverpool FC from season 2. It's strange that a transfer narrative is being written so early when Liverpool are not floundering in comparison to their Premier League rivals with the exception of José Mourinho's Chelsea, a club that's returned to the first era of the Special One: the lightning start. That's what made it so difficult for teams to keep up with Chelsea's league form in Mourinho's first two seasons in English football and it was something that the Dark Lord pointed out. Of course, the clean sheets, the powerful midfield, the organisation from defence to attack, the money, the leadership, the depth, the foundations laid by Claudio Ranieri, and the team spirit all contributed to a Premier League juggernaut but that clean sheets machine started quicker than anyone else.
If you're worried about the title possibly being out of reach and Liverpool were supposed to challenge this season with the funds invested in the light of the season that surprised us all...you're worrying about the wrong thing. Why does everything have to turn from unicorns blessed by Fowler himself to Unicron, master to the Dark Lord, so quickly? At least wait for Liverpool to pick up one point from six against West Ham and Everton first. Then maybe we can decry the shambles ambling in the Premier League's hallway. If our so-called upgraded squad players find Middlesbrough a pronunciation problem and matchday muddle, maybe there's not as much depth as previously believed. Wait for things to go sour before proclaiming them sour. The milk doesn't expire until the Baggies come round after the trip to Switzerland. Liverpool could have failed to beat Ludogorets by then!
This isn't to say that Saturday's performance wasn't risible because it was. At this stage, with the history of the particular fixture and opponent, it is difficult to assess it as part of a larger whole. Simply put, just wait a while. Let's see what the new players bring as they're still new to each other, and if this is the acclimatisation period, fine. England's most successful club has made a decent enough start to build on confidently. If further losses occur in the course of September and October before the Champions League home tie against Real Madrid, let's have a serious conversation. What is perplexing is the fluctuation in opinions of players and strategy from game to game. And remember, one home win against Premier League cannon fodder, does not a champion make.
Take a moment, curse that nefarious and diabolical team upending your beloved once again, wait before delivering a final judgement, breathe, and get ready for that magical theme song. The Champions League is one series that Liverpool don't want to see cancelled, and Brendan Rodgers should be trusted to successfully run that show at home and abroad.