THAT’S it then. All of the summer preparation has been building to this. Arsenal. Sunday. 4pm. The season begins. What kind of year will it be?
A brilliant one, obviously.
Liverpool’s league form left a lot to be desired last time out but, much like under Rafa Benitez in 2004-2005, it’s worth noting that the manager knew nothing about the domestic league and loads about Europe. In both season domestic form suffered but the managers saw their teams do well in European competition and took them to a League Cup final.
Suffice to say, history can offer us some positives in that sense, if we want to look for them. It’s also worth noting that the cup finals could have gone so very differently under alternative circumstances. If I offered you 3-0 down in a cup final or 1-0 up in one right now, which would you take? Which would you assume ended in the Reds lifting silverware?
Fine margins can so often be key.
Listening to Midnight Caller on TAW Player the other day I made a decision about the upcoming season. Neil, John and Jonathan Liew were talking about the way that people seemingly get so annoyed about everything nowadays and how everything lacks any degree of nuance.
I watched a bit of a TV show called The Interview last night and a bloke in it said that he’s known as ‘The Zebra’ because he sees everything in black and white. It should go without saying that he came across as a bit of a prick.
Aren’t we all guilty of that sometimes, though? I know I am. Seeing things in black and white I mean, not being a prick. Though I’m sure more than a few people would say I have a tendency to do that, too.
Whether it be Twitter or phone-ins, being able to sum up how you feel in short and succinct sentences has become de rigueur. We can all have a tendency to rush to judgment far too quickly, deciding a player is shit before 90 minutes is even up, let alone a full season.
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I’ve tried really hard recently to avoid telling people how they’re supposed to behave. It’s something I’ve definitely been guilty of in the past. If you’re a positive-thinking football fan like I am it’s really difficult not to tell the moaners that they’re doing it wrong. Mainly because I don’t get it. I don’t understand what the point in watching football is if you’re just going to complain about everything.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? I don’t understand, so what right have I to judge? If you’re the sort of person who wants to mock someone else for genuinely believing that the Reds can win the league this season then that’s fair enough. It’s not for me to judge.
We are going to win the league, though. I’ve honestly never been convinced so much of anything in my life.
But I digress. The point is I’m keen to turn over a new leaf. I don’t want anyone to be calling me The Zebra.
I want to see the colour. I want to view things with the nuance that they deserve. I’m as guilty as the next man of thinking that Albie Moreno is a brainless numbskull, or that Simon Mignolet is the root of all of our problems.
But in football it’s rarely ever just one player’s fault. Who lost the ball further up the field? Was someone out of position? Did the press fail at the wrong moment?
I’m going to try to think about those things when something goes wrong. I’ll also try to consider whether it was just good play from the opposition. That can happen, too.
My dad is prone to get annoyed with how Liverpool are playing without ever offering much thought to what the opposition have done. There are, of course, 11 other players on the pitch as well as an opposition manager — all with their own plans for how to stop the Reds from battering them all over the pitch. Their plans will fail more often than they succeed, but they will succeed from time to time and I’m going to try and recognise that fact.
“Who cares?” is an entirely fair response that you might be considering levelling at me right about now. I imagine you’ll fit into one of three categories: You get where I’m coming from and you might also try to keep an eye out for nuance this year; you already try to look at the whole picture and might well tweet me to tell me what else to look out for; or else you don’t have any idea what I’m banging on about and plan to let me know that you think I’m a prick.
Football is a complicated business. Fenway Sports Group aren’t the best owners that Liverpool Football Club have ever had, but that doesn’t automatically make them a complete waste of space.
Daniel Sturridge will get injured on occasion this season. That doesn’t mean that he’s a complete crock who can’t be relied upon. Roberto Firmino will misplace a pass several times in a 90-minute period. That is not a reason to think he’s a waste of a shirt.
That’s how I’m going to approach the season. If you don’t want to do that then that’s totally fine. I’m in no position to tell you otherwise. I’m hoping it will cause football to be a healthier experience for me, though. I reckon I’ll be less stressed if I can make it work for me, less inclined to lose my head.
Of course if Mignolet lets a ball slip through his fingers in the 90th minute against the Gunners on Sunday then my newly-discovered calmness might not last all that long. But then, a 4-1 win won’t be too bad, will it?
Up the Champions Elect Reds.
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