In football there are games that some teams just have to win. The team's fans expect it, their history demands it, failure to do so is unacceptable. As a Liverpool fan the days when we expected to win every game are long gone but still there are enough games in a season where a loss is not just unexpected but hard to take.
On Saturday, Liverpool's manager of just 6 months was sacked after the most successful team ever in English football failed to win enough of these type of games. What made Roy Hodgson's, the former Liverpool manger, departure look increasingly inevitable was the manner in which his team performed. Even in the games which Liverpool did win, the players were uninspired and going through the motions. The players were never able to dominate their opponents.
On Thursday the Oldham and Saddleworth by-election is one of those games Labour don't just need to win but win well. Although the Lib Dems ran them close in last year's General Election, for the previous three elections Labour's majority has hovered around the 3,000 mark. The government is undertaking painful cuts that are impacting on every neighbourhood in the UK. Labour also has the benefit of a new fresh leader while the Lib Dems support has disappeared after the tuition fees row.
If Labour don't walk this by election it will be comparable to the mighty Liverpool losing to the lowly Wolverhampton Wanderers. It simply shouldn't happen. In times past it wouldn't have happened. The BBC are talking in terms of Labour 'hanging onto the seat' when in fact Labour supporters should expect not just to win but win well. Think Harlem Globe Trotters crossed with the current Barcelona team and you get the idea of the kind of swagger Labour should be demonstrating in winning this by-election.
If they don't, then it wont just be football clubs who are looking to sack their managers.