IN April 2013, the day after Luis Suarez’s bite on Branislav Ivanovic, I wrote a piece on The Anfield Wrap called ‘The Weekend’s Lowest Point’.
The basic gist was that I was angry at Manchester United quietly winning another league title while Liverpool once again shot themselves in the foot instead of harnessing energy and support to put us where we should be.
Well, when I say “where we should be” I mean “where we’d like to be”.
At the moment, we deserve to be exactly where we are.
Eighth in the league with a minus four goal difference but with sufficient potential to make it to a Wembley final and still, at the time of writing, in the hunt for two other cup competitions.
Liverpool, ultimately, are a bit shit.
Since that article/shouting match/cheap primal scream therapy, nearly three years have passed.
Brendan Rodgers, Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling have gone.
We nearly won the League (I take full credit for that due to the timing of the piece) and then sank like a stone (clearly someone else’s fault).
If you can’t be bothered to read that piece — and I know you’re busy — the suggestion I made at the time was: “Can we all stop pissing about and start turning this thing around?”
The answer has been obvious. No. No, we can’t.
Three years and a shitload of money later we have no strikers — or at least not one capable of being on the pitch and kicking the round thing towards the oblong thing — mid-table players, our usual maddening left-back and the winter of entropy that characterises most seasons.
I was at the King Power and the game reminded me of a Monty Python sketch about the barber who had a petrifying fear of human hair.
He’d trained for years, brushed up on his small talk and so on, but just couldn’t bring himself to pick up the scissors and get on with it.
We too have a phobia. I’m not sure what you could call it — shootophobia maybe.
Leicester had no such issues so they happily went down the other end and showed our lads what to do.
Yeah, we had the possession, multiple corners and all that but nothing to show for it. See the last three games for further evidence.
The manager, who is surely confused as to the paucity of this squad given the initials on the badge, pointed out that we have played every couple of days, while Leicester have not.
They could rest players and guarantee a proper first team while we had had to mix and match wherever possible. He had a point.
True, we could have purchased additional players to allow the first team to remain fresh during this month’s overtime but there you are. If only there was some sort of fixed period where we’re allowed to buy such men.
Sarcasm aside, we chose a different option. We chose to piss about and are now getting through the rest of the season praying that Christian Benteke comes good and Daniel Sturridge takes up thy bed and walks. If all else fails we can look to Danny Ings who is now Pele or something.
Seriously, what was the plan here? Alex Teixeira? Is that it? If we can’t buy him then sod it, we’ll make do? Did we learn nothing from the Alexis Sanchez debacle? No. We pissed about.
This is not to say that we don’t spend money. No, we’re great at that. £25million for Adam Lallana — a man capable of looking great but who hurts nobody, really. £32m for a Christian Benteke impersonator and a further £29m on Roberto Firmino, who at Leicester had the ball at his feet four yards out and looked for a pass.
Players bought without a system in mind and, just possibly, for a manager who was unlikely to last the month.
I know, I know. It’s easy to criticise players. Sometimes you have to remember that they too are human and subject to frustration and tiredness and so on.
They probably can’t understand why the majority of them can represent their countries but can’t perform with players they see every day.
Jordan Henderson doesn’t want to be injured, Emre Can wants to score more goals, and Alberto Moreno wants everything he hits to go in.
They all want that to do the tricky stuff like Jamie Vardy did, but they’re also seemingly incapable of doing the most mundane of tasks.
See Moreno’s throw-ins. Red shirt, blue shirt, red shirt, blue shirt, red shirt, blue shirt. Ah, let’s opt for anywhere. Oh, blue.
But if they’re just not good enough then what do we do? Wait around until they are?
There were people on Twitter claiming that this is a product of buying from mid-table teams. That’s not the case for other teams.
Morgan Schneiderlin sits in the top six along with Danny Rose, Aaron Ramsey and, yes, Raheem Sterling — all bought from teams lower down the league.
Vardy was playing for Fleetwood Town four years ago.
It’s not just the football that’s struggling. It’s the off the pitch stuff, too.
It may have improved lately but Anfield is the quietest it’s ever been and it’s helping no one.
The club owners have done nothing to make us feel optimistic with their kind ticket price increase for, let’s face it, second-rate football and two months ago George played Phil Collins at half time.
An absolute low point for me.
We’re still pissing about.
I’ve thought long and hard about this and would like to offer a suggestion. I’ll be honest. You won’t like it at first.
Accept Liverpool for what it is.
Mid table, overpriced footballers masquerading as quality.
That sounds overly negative, doesn’t it? It’s not meant to be. I’m not having a go at the players. They didn’t sign themselves. They didn’t put their own evaluations out there and tell the world that they were worthy of it.
Someone else did that. Usually the person who denied being the one who made the decision.
I’m also not saying that we should make a point of being eighth and celebrates its charm — just that we should stop pretending to be something we’re not. We’re not a top four side now. We are what we are — lower down the table and wishing we were higher.
Yes, we’re a couple of wins from making that target (and what an embarrassing target that is) but you need goals to do that, so let’s look at the facts rather than at our navels.
If the club admits this — and there’s every chance the manager has already arrived at this conclusion — then we can get on with the job without the frightening prospect of “failing for Liverpool”.
Our history is a great thing, but it’s also an enormous millstone to drag around when you face Watford or Leicester who want to fire their slingshot at Goliath.
Our scalp, even in these poor times, is still a worthy one even though the Leicester fans who I saw leaving the ground didn’t seem overly elated. To them it was a run-of-the-mill win against a lesser side.
Exeter got a draw on their cowfield of a pitch because our name was big enough to encourage them. We pulled the rug away by not letting the first team players get in the firing line.
If the club accept what’s going on we can at least build again or coalesce some quality among the dross.
Look at Moreno. I know he’s only 12 years old but he is a Europa League winner with Spanish international caps to his name.
On paper at least that translates to a player who deserves to be in a top-four side.
Is he though? Is he really?
I’m sorry to have a go at him personally, but he’s nothing like good enough. He’s actually 23 so should at least know the fundamentals of his position.
If this league is too quick for him then fair enough but the point is that he was bought because of what he represented, not for what he is. Is he better than Joe Gomez? Possibly, but which of those two do we need right now?
The one who legs it up the pitch without looking over his shoulder or the solid one who would keep his discipline and maybe be in the right place to stop Vardy for his first goal?
This is the whole reason Jon Flanagan is so popular.
He may not have the allure of a continental signing but he knows what he has to do and will run through walls for it. Plus he doesn’t look like he’s got a pie crust on his head.
This isn’t to say that we should only shop for mid-table players. I want us to be bidding for players who are better than we have/deserve, but they have to be the right players. Those who fit the system, the work rate and are prepared to push Liverpool towards a realistic challenge rather than a pipe dream through a spreadsheet.
Another example? We bought Benteke for a side that doesn’t play wide men and for a manager who was on his way out.
The club should stop thinking that this Liverpool is the Liverpool we all want in our hearts.
It isn’t or at least it isn’t yet.
The Emperor is naked.
That’s fine if you admit it. You can go home, get dressed and start again. Lauding it through town with your knob out isn’t the way to progress.
If the players know that they’re mid-table players, maybe, just maybe, they’ll lose some of the fear that comes with the territory of playing for the side.
Maybe they’ll dig in a bit more and not be scared of coming into work.
Maybe they’ll enjoy it more as it can’t be much of a laugh at the moment. Maybe they’ll work out that round thing/oblong thing.
Look at Vardy’s first goal. Our lads would have never tried that for fear that they would look stupid. A team enjoying playing for Liverpool might have.
We’ve tried everything else. Including pissing about. Let’s try something new. Let’s try changing it by embracing reality.
Let’s make the new Liverpool. Not keep pretending that we’re still the old one.