Legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly was speaking tongue in cheek when he uttered his famous quote, “Some people think football’s a matter of life and death. I can assure you it’s much more serious than that”.
Suddenly in the midst of a worldwide health crisis, football has had to learn its true place in the greater scheme of things.
As we struggle to comprehend the potential dangers we face from the coronavirus, Scottish football had an unenviable choice to make, but one which it had to make or have made for it.
The decision to postpone all matches indefinitely was the only sensible and practical one possible.
With the true gravity of the current health crisis dawning on the wider public, football couldn’t stand in isolation and continue as normal while the health risks presented are so grave.
As other large gatherings of folk were curtailed, football couldn’t be exempt from measures to ensure the health of the general population.
Scottish football authorities have had their share of criticism, but the decision by the SFA and SPFL to cancel all football down to grassroots level shows maturity and sound judgement.
It’s is after all only a game, not life and death. Once life returns to normal, so too can football.
In football there’s more than one way to skin a cat and Atletico Madrid’s defeat of Liverpool in midweek proved it.
Jurgen Klopp’s side dominated the game in terms of possession and pressure and on another night might have rattled the Spanish net several times.
They didn’t though, because they were undone with a deadly display of pacy and effective counter-attack football.
In football the best team doesn’t always win, but the team who scores the most goals does.
The notion that there’s a right and a wrong way to play football is a nonsense.
Theories of managerial philosophies on the way the game should or should not be played, ultimately, rest on the specific abilities of the players at a manager’s disposal.
Atletico withstood constant attacking waves but were able to hit Liverpool with clinically-efficient and rapier counter attacks which exposed the Anfield side.
A twenty-pass build-up may look sophisticated and stylish, however, when it’s outdone by a swift three pass move ending in a goal, it’s revealed for what it is – a failure.
Klopp is one of the most articulate, thoughtful, and intelligent managers in the game but as he admitted post match, he’s also a bad loser.
“I don’t understand with the quality they have, the football they play,” he said.
“They could play proper football but they stand deep and have counter attacks.”
That was Klopp’s unhappy post match response. He might as well have roared into the mouth of a hurricane.
Going toe to toe with Liverpool, a side man for man more talented and skilful, would probably have ensured defeat for the Spaniards.
Yet by playing to their well-drilled and organisational competence, Simeone’s side – leading 1-0 from the first leg – took the tie 4-2 on aggregate with a 3-2 win at Anfield.
That’s because they played smarter, if less exciting, football.