Liverpool had been backed into a corner by the Premier League, who “strongly advised” all clubs to play the national anthem on coronation day, even though they still allowed matches to take place at the same time as all the pageantry in the capital, abdicating any responsibility over making a mark of respect themselves.
Everyone knew it was coming. There were chants in midweek explaining where the coronation could be directed as a pre-requisite. The boos were so loud when the national anthem was played out of the Anfield speakers on Saturday it was not even clear it had started.
To be clear, this is not any statement of disrespect towards the monarchy itself. This is ill-feeling and disenchantment with the establishment, given what Liverpudlians have been through in the Margaret Thatcher era and beyond.
The Kop before Liverpool faced Brentford
There was one difference this time around, however. Following the forced airing of ‘God Save the King’, a booming rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ took us up to kick off as Liverpool and its people had the final say.
The first-half goalscorer who set Liverpool on their way to a sixth successive league victory – one that puts them just one point behind Manchester United in fourth, albeit having played two games more – was a rather familiar one.
Mohamed Salah will score better than his close-range finish that he needed two goes at in the 13th minute, but it does not matter when you score the sheer volume of goals the Egyptian does.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah hit another Anfield landmark on Saturday (Mike Egerton/PA)
Salah became the first player in Liverpool history to score in nine successive games at Anfield in all competitions, with his opener his 100th goal at the famous stadium.
But what makes him a true, undisputed great is consistency – the real difference between the great and the good. This is the third successive season that Salah has scored at least 30 goals in all competitions and his fourth time in six seasons overall. Since 2020-21, Kylian Mbappe is the only other player to score 30 or more goals in all competitions among players in the big five European leagues. He now sits fifth in the all-time Liverpool goalscoring charts, level with Steven Gerrard.
That early strike settled the nerves and with the shackles off, Liverpool could express themselves once more – something conspicuous by its absence too often this season.
There were sumptuous Trent Alexander-Arnold chips over the top, one-two zipping passes between the front three, Cody Gakpo rampaging through the middle. Even Virgil van Dijk audacious efforts from distance. The confidence was back.
The fact Liverpool did not put the game to bed, especially from further chances after the break shows how much work there is to do, and as the game went on, those nerves reappeared, leaving the hosts to hold onto their lead in the dying embers.
But, without fear of reprisal, we can safely say a corner has finally been turned. Liverpool are on the way back. The establishment better watch out.
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