In the wake of an encouraging win it would be easy to simply focus on the positives like normal, happy people who know how to enjoy success. But what those happy people who know how to enjoy success don't know is that failure and pain is lurking just around every corner, waiting to spring. So really, you're much better off embracing a more negative outlook that asks, "Why hasn't Jose Enrique been called up for Spain yet, and does it mean there's something wrong with him we don't know?" and, "Why didn't Liverpool start Maxi until this week, and does it mean he's leaving in January?" Because at least that way you can still be pleasantly surprised…
* With Joan Capdevila retiring from international duty and Spain in need of a left back, many over the summer thought Jose Enrique would at least receive consideration while Liverpool worked to secure his signing. When coach Vincente del Bosque turned to former Liverpool right back Alvaro Arbeloa as a stop-gap solution and Enrique got off to a flying start for his new club, surpassing expectations and looking both Liverpool's best player of the early going as well as the Premier League's best left back, it only seemed a matter of time before the defender got called up to his national side. Instead, del Bosque turned to Jordi Alba, a 22-year-old who splits time between wing and fullback for Valencia, leaving Enrique on the outside looking in:
I was a little bit disappointed. I think I am at one of the best clubs, not just in England but in the world. For me Liverpool is one of the best three in the world alongside AC Milan and Real Madrid. So I was disappointed. Not to go away with the national team every time, but just to have my chance to see if they like me or not.
But to be honest I don’t really think about it too much. My focus is on Liverpool and trying to help us improve. My objective for this season—better than playing for the national team—is to help Liverpool play in the Champions League next season.
It's hard to imagine being passed over like Enrique was wouldn't sting at least a little, but it's good to see him moving on to focus on getting his new club back into Europe. And of course if he did that it certainly wouldn't hurt his chances of making the Spanish squad for next summer's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. For either or both to happen, though, he'll need to rediscover his early season form after a few weeks that have seen Enrique's performances dip slightly after that flying start.
* For weeks, folks around here have been calling for Maxi to start. Or to, at the very least, see a few minutes every now and then off the substitute bench. After the way he ended last season, and with the at times underwhelming performances put in by some of the club's new arrivals, most thought it the very least he deserved. The coaching staff, however, had other ideas, at least up until Sunday when Maxi picked up right where he had left off last season by scoring a goal, providing quality movement, and working hard at both ends of the pitch. Despite that he had seemed largely forgotten, Steve Clarke says that wasn't the case and that the club always had faith in him performing whenever he did end up being called upon:
Everybody here knows the qualities of Maxi. He's been unfortunate this year that he's not had an extended run in the team, but what it does say about him is that he is a complete professional.
When you're not in the team, it's difficult to come in every day, work hard and be prepared for your chance. Maxi has worked hard every day in training. Not just Maxi, but all the squad of players—they've worked hard in training, they wait for their chance. When Maxi went in, he did a fantastic job for us.
Right, now it's time to read the tea leaves in an attempt to figure out if all that adds up to Maxi starting on the weekend or not. Most would likely hope that Dalglish and Clarke stick with the side that put in such an impressive first half shift at Stamford Bridge before inevitably tiring, perhaps leaving next week's League Cup engagement that sees Liverpool heading back to London to face Chelsea once again as the chance for players like Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, and Jamie Carragher to find some measure of redemption and perhaps a route back into the starting eleven in the league. Whether the coaching staff plans on taking that route—or even which match they'll see as the priority when everything's said and done—is far less certain.
*Over on the Anfield Wrap, Rob Gutmann entertainingly takes aim at the Independent's James Lawton for devoting an article to softly softly floating the idea that Kenny Dalglish isn't actually doing any better so far for the club than Roy Hodgson. Which would all be well and good if Lawton had any facts to go along with the gut feeling he offers up more in sorrow than in anger. The only problem is that the facts that Lawton presents—and he does trot out the numbers—in fact say the complete opposite, only he fails to in any way explain those numbers, simply presenting them as though they support his central theorem.
Except they don't. They really, really don't. In fact, it's all a touch embarrassing for Lawton that he implies Dalglish's 1.8 points per game and a 51% win rate that matches Rafa Benitez' and sits a point off Bill Shankly's is no different than Roy Hodgson's 1.25 points per game and 42% win rate. Dalglish's current numbers have been hurt by the season's at times rocky start, just as Benitez' were by his rocky final year with the club, and there's certainly room for valid criticism on that front. But over a season 1.8 points per game is a safe spot in the top four while 1.25 is a club fighting to crack the top ten. Presenting such numbers at the end of an article equating Dalglish's results to Hodgson's in the context of having them support said argument that Dalglish's results are comparable to Hodgson's is shockingly poor journalism.
Perhaps Lawton wrote the article first, and when he found the numbers didn't match up afterwards simply couldn't be bothered to change it. In any case, in fisking Lawton, Gutmann also breaks down what the numbers would be if one were to only look at Premier League results for the two managers. Needless to say it makes the comparison Lawton tried to make look even more foolish, but even without that it's a thoroughly enjoyable demolition and well worth a look.
We'll be back later with any breaking news, but in the meantime, while you wonder why Maxi doesn't start more often and how Enrique hasn't been called up to the Spanish national team yet with both decisions seeming so obviously, easily right…