If you don't laugh, you're gonna cry.
Countless chances unbelievably missed? Check. Contentious non-penalty decision? Check. Hitting the woodwork? Double check. A defensive mistake leading to Liverpool unconscionably conceding against The. Run. Of. Play? Check check check check check.
Oh, and the countless chances dried up after Liverpool's unlikely concession. It's almost as if Liverpool, with frustratingly little to play for in the league, stopped caring when it was "one of those days" yet again. I know, I'll wait for you to regain your composure after such shocking information.
Only Stoke away comes close for shots somehow spurned with an 'exceptionally harsh loss' chaser. The stats were similarly horrifying. 63-37% possession, 230 more passes attempted and completed, 30 shots to nine, but only six on target to West Brom's three. Of course, the only stat that matters is 0-1.
Since this has happened time and time and time and time again, it's especially worthless to run down the egregiously-long list of missed opportunities. Every starting midfielder or forward wearing red had at least two good chances at goal. Innumerable rebounds were scrambled wide, multiple close calls ran across the face of goal with a Liverpool player a step behind. Maxi's penalty shout in the 20th minute ignored because he fell 'too easily' and he's not Ashley Young. Shots from Henderson and Kuyt off the bar and post respectively within 15 minutes of the second-half restart. 15 Liverpool corners, and I think every single one found a West Brom player.
The most egregious came in the 67th, after what was probably Liverpool's best passing move of the season. But Suarez saw his shot saved, Carroll slipped trying to reach the rebound after Foster weakly punched, and Spearing had his effort from the top of the box cleared off the line before West Brom finally scrambled behind. Just like Liverpool's trip to Stoke, where the home side somehow missed five shots within a minute at the same point of the game. And less than ten minutes later, West Brom were ahead as Johnson, who'd been excellent, stupidly and softly tried the clever short pass after winning possession from Mulumbu, allowing that player to intercept and feed Odemwingie running on goal.
The most unforgivable, however, was Kuyt's in the 10th minute. Yet again, if Liverpool convert an early opportunity, this ceases to be a contest. At worst, it follows the same script as the reverse fixture, a less-than-impressive but easy 2-0 win. At best, it's another Fulham or Birmingham from last season's run-in, matches where Liverpool deployed a similar formation with similar tactics if different personnel. But Kuyt shot wide after he was released by Suarez 12 yards from goal, completely unhindered by any West Brom defender. It set the tone, to say the absolute least.
Because it's Hodgson and his contentious "history" with the club, this will seem far worse than it actually was. And that this is far from the first time we've seen similar certainly doesn't help; once again, it's everything but the goal. But Liverpool did not play badly. Suarez was typically effervescent, Henderson and Spearing were cohesively decent in midfield, Carroll was heavily involved in the buildup if disappointing in the penalty box, and Johnson was one of Liverpool's best players outside of that infinitely costly error. Liverpool looked an actual team with actual tactics rather than a collection of mostly hapless and harmless individuals. Which is an improvement on this season's multitude of low points.
I realize that is little consolation, especially after a loss, and especially after a loss to him. I realize that it has happened often enough to cease being coincidence. Whether Liverpool (read: Dalglish) should have bought or need a new striker is a completely different argument than whether Liverpool (read: Dalglish) were tactically competent, chose the right XI, etc. There have been multiple occasions to question Dalglish's tactics and selection. Today is not one of them.
Losses like this, or at Stoke, are incredibly painful. But they're not the reason Liverpool sits 8th. There's a massive difference in what we've seen from the team today and during the run of despicable home draws early in the campaign compared to other recent nadirs. The campaign was ruined by that interminable loss-after-loss stretch in January through March.
Had this happened far less frequently, you roll your eyes and move on. Shit happens, Liverpool played well, it's football, etc. Unfortunately, it's happened very frequently, which means all those questions and concerns aren't going away anytime soon.