Liverpool fans at Anfield, in pubs and bars, at home all jumped for joy whilst Manchester United fans groaned and moaned. From my sick bed, I let out a throaty cheer and then suddenly felt sick to the stomach – this was going to be another 92 minutes of torture, as Liverpool went in search of a second goal to hopefully kill off the game, risking letting the most notoriously lucky side in Europe back into the game.
For a long, long 92 minutes after Daniel Sturridge’s excellent 5th goal in 4 in all competitions, my heart (and a fair bit of phlegm) was in my throat as every time Liverpool’s arch nemesis came near our box I just had this unshakeable feeling that we were going to concede.
I should’ve had more faith in this Liverpool team however, as the 14 players that started and came off the bench today were never going to let United back in once they were ahead.
There is a very different look to this Liverpool side, and you have to wonder whether Brendan Rodgers is finally beginning to put together the team he really wanted to last season.
Liverpool were far from impressive in the game against Notts County last week. After going 2-0 ahead everybody appeared to lose interest and things quickly fell apart in the second half. But the attitude and application the players displayed saw us through, coming out eventual 4-2 winners after extra-time.
While being taken to extra-time at home to a lower league side is fairly embarrassing, particularly after having been comfortable, the 10 men of Liverpool showed some real guts to come through, when it would have probably been easier to just let the capitulation be complete and lose on penalties.
But despite being taken through a full 30 minutes of extra-time in the Capital One Cup, the Reds tore into Manchester United on Sunday, even in the second half when Moyes’ side came back into the game. Liverpool always looked the more threatening and it is a great credit to every player that United were restricted to a handful of half-decent chances, as opposed to anything you could call ‘clear cut’.
In the stands for Liverpool on Sunday were 3 of perhaps 4-5 of the touted new signings that the Reds will be hoping to bring in before the deadline and it is hard to not be excited about defensive prospects Ilori and Sakho, along with Chelsea winger Victor Moses and free transfer Kolo Toure from Manchester City who has captured fan’s hearts with his early attitude and consistency.
Whilst on the pitch, fellow summer signings Simon Mignolet and Iago Aspas were again proving the manager has good judgement when it comes to relative bargains, showing great confidence and tireless running respectively.
However, from what we’ve seen early on from this new-look Liverpool side, I would argue that the best ‘signing’ of the summer so far has been this new-found teamwork amongst the players; the camaraderie, spirit and confidence in one another – that is something that can’t be bought and it is clear from the way the players have celebrated every goal and clean-sheet this season that they are all happy and believe in one another.
The hard-fought wins against Villa and Stoke went some way to banish demons of previous seasons, when the players lost early leads when put under a little bit of pressure. Against supposedly the best team in the country though, Liverpool looked comfortable, assured and in no danger of losing the lead.
The confidence taken from those early wins was on display here and that will only multiply by the time Liverpool take on Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium in two weeks time. By then, the window will have closed, Liverpool’s squad will look much healthier with the addition of 3-5 new signings and most of our international players will hopefully come through unscathed.
If Luis Suarez can come back in a few weeks a little abashed, a little ashamed and with perhaps a bit more humility and appreciation for the club, the fans and everything we’ve done for him, then we could be looking into the prospect of having a great, hungry young team spear-headed by two of the best strikers around, full of confidence ready to give the fans one of the best seasons we’ve had in years.