YOU can’t live your life by ifs and buts. So why should your football team be allowed to?
If Raheem Sterling scored that chance when the ball broke free for him to the left of the Manchester United penalty area?
But United scored their first against the run of play.
But United’s second was offside.
If Sterling scored that one early in the second half when he had all the time in the world to put the ball in the net?
If we only had a defence that wasn’t capable of gifting goals like the third we gave them?
If only we were that little bit nastier and had worked on Fellaini once he’d got that early yellow?
But Mario Balotelli had a chance pushed on to the bar.
The difference between winning and losing a football match can be marked by the finest of lines sometimes, BUT the difference between being habitual winners and losers in football ‘per se’ is a pretty big chasm.
Liverpool Football Club have by and large been habitual losers for over two decades now.
Since Liverpool last lifted the title (25 years ago this coming May) they’ve still been occasional ‘winners’. One European Cup, one UEFA Cup, three FA Cups and four League Cups added to a smattering of other Charity Shield and Super Cup trinkets that don’t really count as proper trophies. I’ve had some great days out being present at most of those silverwear collecting occasions, BUT they’ve not been enough to stop us falling into the category of ‘habitual losers’. If you are a character (or a football club in this instance) that visibly shrinks in the face of big setbacks then you are a habitual loser. You aren’t one of life’s ‘winners’. Liverpool FC aren’t one of life’s winners.
Seven months ago we were on the brink of shattering that concept.
I’m old enough to remember the 1980s. I’m old enough to remember how we used to mock the efforts of ‘cup teams’. Cup teams like Manchester United. Teams that were habitual losers.
Manchester United used to have this mental block when it came to league football. They went 26 years without winning the title. It will be at least a 26 year span of time between titles for Liverpool. Realistically it’s going to be a lot longer than that. 12 months before United broke the title hoodoo they saw the title slip from their grasp in agonising circumstances just a few short steps from the finish line. They even saw the final nails of the 1991/92 title coffin hammered home by Liverpool, at Anfield. They took the blow badly at first, but soon rallied to dramatic effect. They channeled the negative of 92 in a positive way and reaped huge rewards. These were the actions of a club that transformed themselves from habitual losers to habitual winners. Today we are shuffling around trying to dress up the negatives of yesterday into positives. The two clubs pretty much swapped roles in 1992.
Liverpool FC have a mental block when it comes to league football.
We do some things well. Very well, BUT we don’t take them for granted enough. I know that sounds bizarre, BUT we should be inclined to take the things we do well a bit more for granted and focus on adding new strings to that bow.
The greatest football teams throughout history took themselves for granted. The best football teams on the planet today also take themselves for granted. I’ve seen Liverpool teams take themselves for granted. This current Liverpool team can take very little for granted. 1970s and 1980s Manchester United failed to take themselves for granted. On occasions they had some strong foundations to build upon, but instead dismantled unnecessarily and from time to time self-destructed. Liverpool have done their fair share of that kind of thing since Kenny Dalglish walked away from the club in February 1991.
Players being dropped and formations of play are incidentals in the great scheme of things when it comes to football. So is the perceived quality of a player. It’s the ‘clunky’ things you need to get right. Football is a simple game and so is life until you over-complicate it.
Manchester City, Chelsea or even Arsenal (perhaps) would have probably won that game yesterday had they been in our position, with a better goalkeeper, a more coherent defensive unit and a cutting edge up front ‘only’ being the difference between winning and losing. Yes, a pretty big ‘only’ BUT a simple enough equation.
Last season Dr Steve Peters did an amazing job instilling belief to the Liverpool squad that they could, or even would succeed, BUT the mental frailties of a generation when it comes to the aftermath of falling short, while belief is high, is the singular most damaging ingredient this football club is afflicted with.
Not the goalkeeper, or the defenders, or the lack of punch up front, all of which are repairable incidentals really. Our biggest enemy is mental frailty. We are the precocious tennis player who is on top of their game until the first double fault, or the talented golfer who nails the first two rounds at The Open only to hit every bunker during the third round. We are an 85% football club in many ways when it comes to using the entirety of our mental capacity. We never quite go that extra mile, or shrug off ‘that injustice’. We are Sergio Garcia.
It’s time to drag ourselves up from our knees. No one else will do it for us.
‘The two clubs pretty much swapped roles in 1992.’ Fuck my life… But yeah, good piece striking at the heart of our cyclical ‘coming 2nd, pressing self-destruct and then feeling sorry for ourselves rather than growing a pair of 1970s-80s sized bollocks on and off the pitch’ mentality.
Mad how we had to play out of our skin in March to garner the same result they were gifted. We were beaten before we walked out on the pitch and that sense of inevitability has happened loads at Old Trafford the past decade but we’d only lose by the odd goal and they were actually really good. If that result isn’t the kick up the arse the players needed to make a go of salvaging this season, nothing will be.
Well,”The Times They Are A Changing”
This ain’t no local football club no more.This ain’t no local supporters day out to cheer on their team.This is business!And no matter what you say about ManU they are in the same boat but they just don’t realise it yet.
The Glazers pour money in hand over fist.They realise the returns to be significantly greater than their expenditure. They are prepared to speculate to accumulate and boy are they making a good job of it.But are they doing it for the greater good of the team?Don’t make me laugh!They’ll be off like a shot as soon as their analysts calculate that they’reached their peak.
But what happens at good old LFC?Well we’ve got “MONEYBALL”.And it’s totally out of sync with everything else that the big teams are doing.This is a new game now.It’s no longer about flat caps getting a bus to the ground.This is big stakes and match-going supporters are just there to literally make the numbers up.
But back to “MONEYBALL” with LFC.We try to recruit “value players” who will somehow appreciate in value if we (Brendan) develops them to a higher level.Just like Sterling and Sturridge.
But here’s the thing.These players are now identified by a group of lap-top experts.We Don’t have scouts now.We have experts who decide if a player is any good based on statistics.
Now one thing I can tell you with utmost certainty is that you can convince an American to buy anything with statistics.Just look at American Football.You will be lauded for throwing the longest passes over a season.When they watch football they cheer throw-ins.I kid you not!
But,as we all know there are lies,damned lies and statistics.And if you could judge a good player based on pass completion well each (most) of our back 4 would be up for footballer of the Year.
So,don’t blame Rodgers alone for this mess.He’s just trying to do the best he can.He doesn’t’ help himself by choosing to use detailed explanations about everything.But then again I think he’s more honest than most of the other Managers around.
No “moneyball” buys in the summer there!
Surely “moneyball” is buying very good players that are undervalued ie Bojan £1mil, Song loan.
Our transfer strategy has no consistency and simply does not work!
Spot on. I’ve been making this very point citing the same players for some time now.
Balotelli and Lambert are moneyball signings. Most are not.
You need to re-read the term ‘Moneyball’ as Lambert is not one of them. If you can tell me how we can sell Lambert for more than what we bought him for, then I want you at all of our future transfer negotiations.
Agree about Balotelli, not so much about Lambert.
£4.5mil would have been about right for him.
A good read Steven as usual.
Taking the golf analogy further, Sterling has the yipps at the moment, fantastic approach but overthinks the putt…”Yipps [My baby Got The]”
blame everything but the yanks eh. The legacy of these american owners will be that of lies, apology letters, staff white washing, player asset striping and paid shills pr propaganda. These owners are truly awesome!
FSG may not be oligarchs with infinite financing, but they’re moving the club in the right direction after a quarter of a century of neglect and malaise. The club has had business problems since the early 90s. We’re never going to be able to go head to head with Chelsea, Man City & Utd because they can throw £200-300k/week at a player that will add to the side for a couple of years. LFC cannot, the money simply isn’t available. Without years of CL money, the club is just filler side that may flirt near the top for one season in eight or nine years.
But don’t worry, sooner or later FSG will be able to offload the club. They’re improving the books, addressing the stadium and increasing exposure around the world. Perhaps it’ll be a Chinese multi-billionaire wanting a toy that buys the club once the stadium is complete.
Rodgers being mates with Gerrard, and living in his mansion is a toxic situation. It suggests Rodgers cannot touch Gerrard despite the obvious situation with him and his demands for CL level wages for a squad player at best. The fact Rodgers appears to be playing games excluding players to make a point suggests he’s on borrowed time.
Swapping places in 1992 sums it up.
Two next door neighbours, one married to a girl called Joy the other wed to a lass named Cissy.
One day, Joy’s auld fella looked at her, decided she had got old and asked her to leave. That same afternoon, Cissy burnt the Yorkshires and her husband decided that he wanted a fresh start.
The two women then exchanged beds.
I’m watching this great young player for Derby, causing all sorts of problems for Chelsea and Ivanovic. His name is Jordon Ibe. IF only we could sign someone like him…
Like the sentiment, but the financial landscape in 1992 was very different to what it is now. Man Uniteds 92/93 season had more in common with Chelsea and Cities 1st Premiership title winning seasons.
Yes Mr Oldegaard. Rest assured that if you let us sign young Martin I’ll immediately arrange a nice wee loan spell for him at Accrington Stanley. It’s just up the road and his career will kick on.
The magic of football was the idea that your team could reach the top. Once upon a time the First Division title was hard to win and hard to hold. Seldom did one club win consecutive titles. Now we are down to a couple of oligarchs dictating the EPL, and it will not get any better.
The FA Cup Final used to be the cherry on the top of the season, the last match played and everyone agog. Ferguson started the rot by treating the FA Cup with disdain and now lots of fans don’t even know who the cup holder is.
I still cling to the Roy of the Rovers dream that a team of journeymen can sweep all before it and achieve the impossible, and Southampton’s sudden slump saddens me almost as much as my own club’s plight. These ‘small’ teams are now the breeding grounds for the corporate shark clubs, one of which we fancy we are but most assuredly are not. If we continue with mid-table play dictated by Conference level management we will soon see us helplessly shedding three or four valued players like Southampton and Swansea. That’s the reality.
That’s a great piece and rings so true too me,Greg Norman popped into my head with the Garcia comparison