John Gibbons: Why I’m still nervous ahead of Liverpool’s second leg

Despite leading 3-0, the Anfield Wrap writer isn’t counting his chickens ahead of a massive second leg at Man City’s Etihad Stadium…


It’s now five days since Liverpool beat Manchester City 3-0 and moods have changed from drunken delirium to hungover happiness to nervous wreck again.

So back where we started a week ago then. Good job I love nostalgia!

No matter how many football fans – including those of Manchester City – tell me Liverpool are basically through, I can’t shake the feeling that City are really good at football and if anyone is capable of beating us 5-0 it is them. Partly because they did it last September.

I watched it with my own eyes, it definitely happened. Sure, Mane got sent off and we basically gave up, but it still happened…

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So, whilst watching Man City conceding free headers to Paul Pogba despite (or maybe because of) the fact he was dressed as Moonchester the mascot made Liverpool fans more than hopeful of an away goal, I can’t help think instead of what they did first half.

They carved Manchester United open again and again with swift passing and quick movement. Guardiola’s men missed most of the chances created, yes, but this doesn’t make me feel better either. I just reckon “they’re saving all their luck for us”.

Here is the mentality of a football fan. You can batter a team one week and still not feel confident holding onto a three-goal lead the next. You can watch a team display huge positives and staggering negatives three days before they play you and decide to ignore one and concentrate on the other.

Logic has never been a footy fan’s friend.

Luckily one man who has utmost confidence in the Liverpool squad is Jurgen Klopp. He gave them the belief they could turn over City in the first leg and he’ll be saying the same to them again. But is this right approach? I can’t decide.

Before the first leg Pep Guardiola said the worst thing you can do as a manager is change the way you play for one game as it tells your own players you are worried. As if to prove a point he then changed the way City played and got beat 3-0. Maybe he is a real professor after all and the whole thing was just an experiment.

Jurgen would feel the same, but I’m not sure a slightly more conservative approach than normal wouldn’t be sensible. We don’t have to win the game, we don’t even have to draw it!

“Don’t lose too heavily and it will all be okay”, might be straight out of the Roy Hodgson handbook, but in this case it is true.

Those who say this team can only play one way are mistaken. They just largely choose to play one way because it’s way more fun (and effective). The second half in the first leg proved that Liverpool can defend when focussed.

A similar set up with more threat on the break would be fine for The Reds as well as being good practice for a semi-final we all hope is to come.

I’ll be furious if we get hit on the break you know.

But maybe I’m just being a wimp. In my defence I’m a touch out of practice with all this big game stuff and it is making me very tense. Which is why some light relief from a French newspaper today was very much welcome.

If you haven’t seen it already APPARENTLY, Liverpool have offered Marouane Fellaini a three-year contract. To play football, not clean the showers with his head.

Jurgen Klopp, who wants his players to be committed, mobile and quick at moving the ball has gone for Fellaini as his number one midfield target.

It’s given everyone a huge laugh and made me realise how lucky we are to have James Milner. Cheers boys, we needed that.

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