Sadio Mane got Liverpool’s season up and running with the only goal as they laboured to a 1-0 win over bogey team Crystal Palace.
The Senegal international stabbed home in the 73rd minute after starting the move from wide on the left to finally break the visitors’ resistance.
For long periods the game was crying out for the sort of defense-splitting piece of magic usually provided by Philippe Coutinho against teams who come to frustrate.
Football Paradise’s Top 3 Talking Points
A football team is like a piano. You need eight men to carry it and three who can play the damn thing
– Bill Shankly.
The Liverpool team today had the look of a group of pan-European Super Lotto Winners, who won a chance to turn up at Anfield masquerading as their heroes. They looked like a cover band at a karaoke bar in Kyoto, Japan. (Most of them are middle-aged nine-to-fivers and they take it up as a hobby to avenge their everyday obedient lives.) They looked like buskers you pass by and don’t make a YouTube video/Vine of. They weren’t the bunch of buskers that go viral. They were ordinary buskers, behind on the volume of hours of real practice. That’s what it looked like, a bunch of footballers without any chemistry or game-time. A Doors without Ray Manzarek. Anfield was like the Salzburg court without the honorary Konzertmeister, Mozart.
It is up for debate whether it’s the weight of the self-destructive streak that genius often carries or the self-flagellation of his reputation over recent events, keeping Coutinho out with a back-injury, but the difference of the quality of composition in the starting minutes almost made the Anfield faithful tone-deaf.
It was like dancing without music or the kind of teeth-grating silence that scratches on your soul. My eyes, on occasions, felt itchy, as if watching violin wires snap, or witnessing the clang of mistimed keys.
Sure, Liverpool possess in their ranks tireless percussionists – like a punk rocker, Bob Firmino; while Jordan Henderson’s lungs are fit for the strain of a tuba or a Decathlon, Sadio Mane with the spinal-elasticity of a saxophonist needs a pianist/keyboardist to take the cue from. It remains to be seen, whether Klopp’s Talking Heads will get their Bernie Worrell in Naby Keita.
If not, expect more dropped notes and dropped points. Absolute clangers.
The Spirit of St. Aurelio
I was long under the suspicion that at Anfield the laws of physics don’t apply. Suarez’s free-kicks would often turn wildly, and that it is impossible for the ball to turn inwards from a cross coming in from the left flank.
Last Tuesday’s displays gave producers enough excuse and reason to zoom the camera into Trent Alexander-Arnold, sitting in the stands, every time Liverpool had a dead ball situation. That set the precedent for Andrew Robertson’s Anfield debut.
The spirit of the stylish Brazilain was channeled by the unfancied Scotsman, from working town of Glasgow, whose timely free-kicks and crosses often seemed like divine intervention. You’d of course, remember the immaculate conception at (appropriately named) Shed End at Stamford Bridge.
Fabio Aurelio forsaken prematurely by irreverent injuries, retired in 2013. Around the same time, Andrew Robertson made his professional debut for semi-professional (amateur club) Queen’s Park. For all intents and purposes, young Andrew Robertson is a regen spawned out of Fabio Aurelio’s Football Manager career save-game. Early doors, but the lad seems like he has a left peg that could part the sea.
The Jazz Man
Sadio Mane is the soul of Liverpool’s attacking symphony, much as the saxophone is the soul of a jazz band. He’d be the sort of guy standing in the corner of a smoky cafe, tapping his feet and chatting the crowd up. With brown shows shining brighter than black ones in the room, he’d walk with the swagger of a marquis in Paris. And when the music started, he’d be the first and the last one to dance.
Bobby Firmino is the cloak to Sadio Mane’s knife – persistence begets persistence, even if it’s two different kinds. The goal Mane scored was an extension of his personality on the football pitch- a flash of lightning swaddled in axle grease. Liverpool must be careful not to have him save the show with a solo too often – saxophonists age quicker.