Sometimes things don’t go as expected. We’re used to Liverpool battering newly promoted sides in the first game of the season, but Fulham had other plans as they took the lead twice on their way to a 2-2 draw. It might be easy to overreact to a poor performance when it’s the first match of the season given the anxiety surrounding the team heading into a new season.
It’s not about how you start these things, but we know the task at hand and any dropped points at any point in a season could be costly. The pessimist reverts to allowing their worst fears to dictate their reality. The optimist clings to sayings like, “it’s just a bump in the road.” Perhaps they’re both right.
Liverpool weren’t good today. There’s no point in really trying to get around that. Jurgen Klopp was blunt after the game. Typically when his side lays an egg like today, he blames the sun or the weather or the way the hotel’s doors opened. After this one he wasn’t happy with the team’s performance
Jürgen Klopp: "We got a point from a really bad game from my side. The attitude wasn't right in the beginning. We didn't deserve more. The performance needs massive improvement. We did the opposite of what we wanted to do. The result wasn't about the referee."— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) August 6, 2022
Perhaps he knows. Of course he knows. This season is going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before, so the manager knows he can lay down a marker within his squad. Is a 2-2 draw away to Fulham at 12:30 to start the season going to be the difference between a league title and second place? Perhaps, but probably not. However, can that same thing be the catalyst for the manager and the squad to shock them into reality? Yes, absolutely.
Let’s dig in deeper about why the manager was so unhappy.
Dissecting the Narrative
Klopp absolutely hates the 12:30 kickoffs. Even the most basic Liverpool fan knows this. He complains about it every time. The biggest reason why he hates it is it is hard for the team to play with the intensity the manager desires from his side. Is it a self-fulfilling prophecy at this point or just the reality we face? Maybe both.
The first half against Fulham was one of the four or five worst halves Liverpool has played in five years. I am including some of the bonkers halves during the cursed 2020-21 seasons and adjusting for expectations. The midfield couldn’t pass, the forward line was disjointed, and the defense couldn’t sort anything out. It was a half of everyone passing the buck and no one taking responsibility. Seven of the starting XI have started three Champions League finals together. None of the leaders stepped up.
The second half was better, but still not good enough. It is a positive that Liverpool didn’t lose today. That’s a good takeaway. I’m not going to overreact one way or another to 95 minutes of football. Bad games happen.
We can’t go much longer without dedicating some words here to Darwin Nuñez. He’s played 70 minutes of competitive football for Liverpool. In those minutes he’s taken 8 shots and created 6 big chances. He’s scored two goals and also has an assist. He’s the real deal.
What Happens Next
Liverpool have eight days until their next competitive fixture. Crystal Palace at Anfield on a Monday night. That’s an eternity for the team and the manager to figure it out. Is this going to be a season defining result or just a blip on the radar? For them to decide.