It was classic rope-a-dope Jurgen

Published: Monday, 28 December 2020

I had to laugh. Jurgen Klopp’s face post match was a picture. He was in pain. It was as if someone had just told him he was going to have to replace half a dozen of those expensive teeth.

After seven consecutive home wins this season it was over. Big Sam had mugged him again and Klopp wasn’t happy. ‘Who would’ve thought he would come and play a 6-4 or 5-5 or whatever it was in the first half?’ Er - me Jurgen. And I was really surprised that you were surprised that he did. It was classic Big Sam. ‘A bonus point’ the big man called it.

Too right it was a bonus point. It won’t have been one that he’d scheduled when he calculated what was needed for West Brom to stay up. But he planned for it. He hoped for it. And the game turned exactly as he wanted.

The big man’s plan was very simple. Sit for 45 minutes - and keep any damage to a minimum. To get in at half time all square would’ve been a dream, but he would’ve expected to concede. The important thing once that happened was to make sure the gap didn’t get any bigger. Liverpool huffed and puffed and all but blew themselves out. All the time the score was only 1-0 West Brom were in the game. All it was going to take was to get on the end of something from a set-piece. Abracadabra - Allardyce worked his magic again.

Of course the Baggies were going to have to be a little more expansive in the second half. They had to get up the pitch to force a corner - or a free kick in the last third. It really was classic rope-a-dope. They’d taken Liverpool’s best shots - hadn’t been hurt too badly and there was plenty left to have a go at the champions with. Brilliant. Classically brilliant. Never mind all the nonsense about possession. The only stat that matters at the end of a game is the score-line. 1-1. That’s why the big fella cancelled his annual Christmas holiday in Dubai - to get that winning feeling again. And believe me, this one felt like a win.

It was a win really. It was a win over officially the best coach in Europe, who was left angry and bemused. But what did you expect Jurgen? Sam isn’t as daft as some that have visited Anfield this season and gone toe-to-toe with you - scoring three but letting in four. Yes, Leeds were wonderfully entertaining at Old Trafford as well - but took a hiding.

Add indignant to the list that best describes Klopp post match. It was almost as though he was struggling to come to terms with the fact that Sam hadn’t set up to get beaten. Come on Jurgen - you know very well that there are many different ways to play the game - and digging a relegation point out at the home of the champions requires stubbornness, discipline, planning and a bit of luck. It went exactly as Sam plotted.

There’s little that Allardyce likes more than bloodying the noses of the so called ‘super coaches’. It irks him that after a lifetime in the game he still has a reputation for being ‘anti-football’.

Love him or hate him - you can’t deny him. When he managed at Bolton he was often described as an innovator. He was prepared to do things differently. He once finished fourth with them. And think about the players he managed - Hierro, Djorkaeff, Campo, Anelka and there were many many more. He’s a super coach all right.

It’s not by good fortune that Sam is still around. When he’s been employed to do a job he’s always delivered. I’m still sorry that he didn’t get chance to get his teeth into the England job. That was the one he always coveted and it didn’t end as it should’ve done. Never forget - he wasn’t found guilty of any crimes - because there weren’t any. Greg Clarke got trigger happy so there weren’t too many tears shed by either myself or the big man when he was run out of town recently.

For those of you who do like a stat - here’s one - since April 17 Allardyce has taken 5 points away from Anfield. The rest of the big six have managed only four between them.

Another matchday started with me promising myself not to end up writing about more shocking decisions - both from the field of play and the bunker - but oh no - it’s impossible it seems.

Sean Dyche was left pulling out what little finger hair he’s got left. A pen for Bamford? No chance. Not on the basis of recent decisions that have seen pens overturned when a player has got a whisper of a touch. ‘Reckless’ said the PGMOL. Nonsense - but if so - why wasn’t Matty Cash penalised for his wild slash in the box on Van Aanholt - ‘because he got a touch on the ball’ said Stockley Park. There is no consistency. Excuses are made up as they go along.

Burnley were also denied a perfectly good goal. If Barnes goal was to be disallowed, then they should’ve had a pen for Meslier’s reckless challenge on Ben Mee.

And no wonder David Moyes wants to know why Lewis Dunk’s goal was allowed to stand after he’d knocked the ball into his own path with his elbow. ‘There wasn’t a definitive angle that proved he had’ said Stockley Park. Come on. I was looking at one when we put the call in. It was nailed on. Why don’t they just admit when they’ve got it wrong? Why not? It’s pathetic the scrambling that goes on. ‘The dog ate my homework Miss’. It really is as bad as the worst schoolboy excuse for covering up.