By Danielle Warren
It’s been a hard few weeks for Liverpool fans. The first half of the season, Liverpool couldn’t buy a win against promoted teams and teams in the lower half of the table. Draws started to become the norm. But as the season has progressed, even draws have eluded the team and now a handful of losses have regrettably greeted the Reds. The loss against Arsenal was hard to swallow, what with being the better team all game, but the back-to-back defeats against QPR and Wigan were one million times worse.
Right, so that’s a little hyperbolic, but you get the point. No one involved with Liverpool Football Club is happy with the league form at the moment, not even me, a self-proclaimed optimist. We’ve been below par in the results department since the opening game against Sunderland, and what started as an unusual pattern, has since become a vicious psychological cycle ever since.
The more games we play without scoring, the more pressure there is to score, the more the inexperienced (both in age and at big clubs) players cower into their shells, the more the results continue to slip from our grasp.
Combine that with the feeling that the league has nothing left to offer as fourth place is out of reach and Europe is secure, and, whether rightly or wrongly, suddenly there’s an incredible lackadaisical feel amongst the players. The same players that have given, overall, great performances without garnering the corresponding results, have now seemingly become players who appear to have given up.
If you read Twitter, listen to phone-ins, and pay attention to the media at large, it appears Liverpool as a whole should just give up. No one cares about winning the “Mickey Mouse” Cup, Dalglish should be sacked, the players should be shipped out, and as for the supporters of the club, we should all just pack our bags and head to higher ground with our heads held down in shame. I hear Barcelona and Madrid are nice this time of year. They’ve got huge stadiums, so I’m sure they’re always looking for new fans and they tend to win a lot in the league.
Understandably, people are upset. No one likes to lose. And to quote a recent sports film, with some loose ties to our club, “I hate losing almost as much as I like winning” – Brad Pitt, Moneyball. We’ve become fodder for other clubs. They all like to kick a team when they’re down, so they take this opportunity to remind Liverpool just how shit they are. For all intents and purposes, Liverpool are currently the personification of dreadful football teams and really, they should just give up on football altogether.
Sorry, but the logic doesn’t work for me. Again, I’m the first to admit I’m an optimist, always have been, always will be. I don’t believe looking at things in a negative way, no matter how bad they may seem in the moment, is at all helpful, constructive, or makes you feel better in any way, shape or form.
I know results have been poor, but do some of these fans calling for Kenny and half the first team to be unceremoniously kicked to the curb really feel better when they continually berate their own team’s players and manager? Is there a sense of warmth they feel in reminding not just themselves, but anyone who will listen, that there is no hope and everything is horrible?
Perhaps there is, but it might behoove the general mood surrounding the club for the majority of these people to take a step back and gain some perspective. What’s that old refrain about walking through a storm?
The problem for most is that this is an era of instant gratification. Fans have emerged demanding instant success and nothing less. “The Sky Generation” as it were. It seems technically I should fall into this category based on my age and relatively short time following Liverpool, but I in no way feel entitled to anything as a fan of Liverpool Football Club, on top of which knowing that patience is always needed when things change, or aren’t going exactly how you wanted them to.
And really, that’s how it should be. Every team in every season needs to earn where they are. Nothing is a given anymore, especially when teams around Liverpool have had the opportunity to build while Liverpool regressed.
Going back to my earlier point, I’ll repeat that I am not happy with the recent league form. But, I am happy with the season so far. My memory doesn’t seem to be as short as others because I remember quite vividly the dire football being played about 18 months ago, and the then manager that didn’t have a clue about what this club means.
And those that try to compare Hodgson with Dalglish clearly haven’t been watching the last two seasons unfold with those two managers at the helm. The results have not gone our way for a number of various (and sometimes inexplicable) reasons this season, but the football being played, along with the attitude of the owners, manager, and players is a 180 degree turn from where we were a mere YEAR AND A HALF AGO.
Yes, I know. That’s like a millennium to the Sky Generation. Really we should already be challenging for the league after just two transfer windows and a massive overhaul to the squad and playing philosophy.
While that would have been nice, especially after seeing the scintillating football played in the second half of last season, it would be unrealistic to say I actually thought that would happen so soon. As much promise as we showed, I always knew it would take at least a season or two for this new team to start gelling on a consistent basis.
But the most salient point in all this is to keep looking at the big picture. Choose to look at the league form since the turn of the year in isolation, and things appear grim. But on the whole, this team, even without the likes of Lucas, Agger, Gerrard, Suarez, and Johnson for huge chunks of the season, has managed to outplay several teams above them, win one trophy, and remain in contention for another. This is a team still trying to find its identity. So while the pass and move style of play is being embedded into the squad and can be inconsistent at times, the early signs are very good.
The bigger debate then becomes which is more important, the cups or the league. Dalglish has mentioned this several times of late, and while you never want to sacrifice one for another, it will inevitably happen, even to the best of teams.
I’m not sure if anyone’s noticed, but Manchester United, Manchester City, and Arsenal are out of everything, and only one can win the last trophy available. Arsenal also had an upturn in their league fortunes just as they collapsed in the Champions League to Milan, followed by being knocked out of the FA Cup. Funny that.
That being said, they will all gain entrance into next season’s Champion’s League which is what Liverpool want as well, but that doesn’t mean that the cups should be brushed aside as if they’re worthless. Instilling a winning mentality into such a new team can be invaluable. Right now it seems the Carling Cup has had the exact opposite effect we all would have liked, but the experience of winning a trophy can be priceless down the road.
With every negative result in the here and now, we all have to keep reminding ourselves to look at the bigger picture. In the last year and a half, there’s been a new manager, a new first team coach, numerous new players, and a new (or old, depending on you look at it) philosophy being woven into the fibers of the club. For all of these things to be successful, there needs to be some patience.
As difficult as it seems, we must support the team when they’re down because it has an enormous effect on getting them where we all want them to be. I believe in Dalglish, and I believe in many of the players, underperforming or not. Yes, I want better results, just like any fan. But at this point in time, I’m certainly not giving up on football, and I’ll never give up on Liverpool.
You can follow Danielle on Twitter here @DanielleWarren