I USUALLY write this reasonably late at night. Usually after 11pm. It’s Monday when I write this and while I’m doing it I’ll stick something light on TV, for a bit of background noise.
Sky has started showing James Corden’s talkshow and, contrary to how he’s perceived in this country, it’s actually quite good. It serves a purpose. Light entertainment when I’m not long in from work, and don’t really fancy watching Newsnight.
The perception of him by people in this country, certainly among people I surround myself with, is that he’s a bit of a bellend. The American audience perceives him differently to my echo chamber, however. He’s been nominated for four Emmy’s, has a £10m contract and CBS paid him £650,000 to move to America. Imagine that conversation ‘Alright James, would you like £650,000 to move to Los Angeles?’ Tough sell.
Some people will no doubt watch The Late Late Show and think it’s absolute rubbish. But that’s fine because different people look at the same thing in different ways. People’s perception of football always fascinates me.
Perception is something that I always find interesting at this time of year. We’ve played three games this season. Every team in the league has played three games. Some teams have overachieved, some teams have underachieved, and some have achieved roughly what you’d have expected.
I look at the league table now. Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea are level at the top on nine points, Stoke have one point, Burnley have three points, and Hull have six points. There’s a definite argument that the top three could be the top three in May, but maybe they won’t. Have you really learned a great deal about United so far that you didn’t know already? I haven’t. What have you learned about Chelsea after they’ve got nine points on the board? Absolutely nothing. The same with City. They’ve all won three games that they were supposed to win.
The point of this isn’t to denigrate anything that they’ve done. I think they’re all very good teams that will fight for the title in what promises to be the best title race this country might have ever seen — I can honestly say that, if one of six teams won it, I could look at the situation and make sense of it. And that six doesn’t even include the side who won it last season.
I’ve seen a few people mention that it’s important that we don’t lose ground at an early stage of the season. It’s entirely possible that five games into the season we could be seven points off the pace, which is a number people will have a psychological issue with. People seem to look at the league table at this time of year and read a hell of a lot into them.
Why? You don’t really know where you are until the clocks go back at the end of October. Our first five games will feature four teams who I expect to finish in the top seven or eight, and that may be me being unfair to Leicester. Rank our games one to 38 in numbers of difficulty and I think it’s fair to say that three of our five most difficult games on paper are out of the way before the end of September. The league table in August will not tell you this. The league table won’t tell you that we’ll have played a quarter of our away games before the second international break has happened.
Let’s make no mistake, it would be horrible to be come away from Stamford Bridge two weeks on Friday with Liverpool sat in about 14th place with seven points. It’s possible we could have four. It’s possible we could have 10; one thing is for sure, we will not be top of the league. We’ll be looking up and have catching up to do. But that’s absolutely fine. If you didn’t expect that to be the case, having looked at the fixture lists of ourselves and the likes of United, Chelsea and City who’ve had the kind of starts they would almost have handpicked, then you’re deluded.
Performances are what matters for now. If we consistently produce good performances, create chances, defend well, and do the right things, the points will follow. Over such a short period of time, points don’t always accurately reflect what a team has done. 270 minutes is a small sample to analyse anything. Chelsea could easily have five points given a player who could have been sent off twice grabbed two late winners, would they be a worse team? No. Would they be likely to get fewer points from the next 35 games than they are after getting nine points? No. The margins involved in the short period so far are very thin.
People will have different perceptions of the Burnley performance as well. It may well be that that is a template for the season in certain games, let’s hope not. But for now you can just look at it as a one off. It’s annoying because three points there and we’d have had a fantastic start to the season. As it is, it’s alright but frustrating.
I don’t really know what to make of that Burnley performance, is it a template for something that we’ll see more of? Was it an off day? Was it an error in tactics from the manager? Were we tactically outwitted by a well organised and hard working side? You can argue a number of things depending on your viewpoint and dare I say it, AGENDA.
It may be that what you or I think now may be different to what we think in six months. For now I’m happy to look at it as us making a couple of defensive mistakes we’d be unlikely to replicate, and an off day in the final third, and draw a line under it. For now I can forget about it. If I see more of it then I’ll be very concerned. You’re allowed to change what you think after all. People often forget that, while some also seem to be unwilling to do it. Sticking to a viewpoint and refusing to change it is a bit odd.
Regardless of opposition, though, there’s a certain disadvantage to playing three away games to start off with. I remember that dreadful Being Liverpool documentary a few years ago having a segment with Pepe Reina talking about away games and the hotels they stay in and various things like that. He was even as specific as to mention pillows. They aren’t around their family, they aren’t in their own bed, they’re sat in hotels — nice hotels, granted — killing time and waiting around. There’s a comforting familiarity about home games that Liverpool haven’t been a party to yet this season.
I’m not saying footballers are hard done by but anyone who’s ever travelled regularly for work will tell you hotel living, even for a couple of nights, isn’t exactly brilliant. There’s a novelty at first, but doing it regularly takes its toll. Doing it three successive weekends in a hotel won’t have players in a perfect frame of mind, certainly not as good a frame of mind as sleeping in your own bed, or eating breakfast in your own kitchen, would have you.
There’s a lot to think about when you look at the league table in August. A hell of a lot. Don’t look at it and draw conclusions. Three points at home to Leicester and then a good performance at Chelsea and I’ll be pleased with where we are, that could in theory be seven points from five games which, extrapolated over 38 games, isn’t a great level to be at.
But it’s four away games out of the way, the Champions out of the way, and would only really be one truly disappointing result from five. No one is perfect for 38 games and every team will have disappointments because that’s how football works. My Dad has told me roughly a millions times that a Liverpool team once won the league after being 12th at Christmas, so if you’re getting tetchy in September you need to have a think about things.
Yes, some seasons — like Chelsea in 2005/6, and again 2014/15 — the title is pretty much in the bag by Christmas, but that’s a rarity. Say we beat Leicester, because of how that fixture list thing works we physically can’t be more than three points behind City or United.
The interesting part of our season, the part where we’ll really get to know what this team is about, starts on the 22nd of October at home to West Brom. We follow that with a trip to Crystal Palace, welcome Watford to Anfield and then play Southampton (a), Sunderland (h), Bournemouth (a), West Ham (h), and Middlesbrough (a). Judge us in December when we’re 16 games in and things have started to take shape. Or in November, if this run started really badly. But not now. That’s pointless.
It’s not a sprint as Neil regularly says, it’s an 800m race. We’re basically in lane one on the first bend — we can see them in front of us but we aren’t really behind. No one’s ahead because there’s 35 games to go.
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“Performances are what matters for now. If we consistently produce good performances, create chances, defend well, and do the right things, the points will follow.”
I thought at this time of the season, it was the other way around.
What happens if we keep putting in strong performances, but not getting the points? How long before the mindset kicks in of “hang on, we’re doing our best here and still getting nowt”.
Getting the points and playing average, players will think “we’re on 9 points and haven’t even got into 3rd gear yet”.
However, I agree, it’s too early to write us off and too early to write the top 3 “in” (not sure if that’s a term).
Stay in touch. You don’t win the League in the first few games but you can lose it. As long as we stay in touch with the pack then we have a great chance when second half of the season we’ll be fitter than anyone.
Also, not sure if i heard it on TAW or somewhere else, but if you are chasing 4th place (Champs League) you don’t have to look at how many points you are behind 1st place, you just have to see how many you are behind Arsenal – and currently we’re level on points.
Loads to play for.
Your first point is a good one. It’s like the first half of 2011/12 where we’re on top in loads of games but ‘unlucky’ then drawing undeservedly and by the second half of the season the dropped points had killed us and we eventually stopped playing well altogether.
I’m still doubting rather than believing but hoping to see something over the next few games that changes that. Sturridge starting upfront for home games would be nice. Maybe even a clean sheet.
Great piece. It’a incredible the amount of fume on social media after we’ve taken four points from AWAY games at last season’s 2nd & 3rd-placed teams.
Yesterday there was an LFC fan* on Twitter suggesting Klopp was a closet racist for his actions regarding Sakho!!
*simply having LFC in your Twitter name does not make you a fan. In fact, we could all sign up as @NonceMUFC simply to slate them – it really is that easy.
Essentially we need to be aware of fake fans and swerve some of the constant negativity from sites such as Liverpool-Kop and Anfield Index.
So anyone who doesn’t agree with your view is a fake fan then. Oooookay….
It’s not about alternative viewpoints. It is about direct criticism of players, owners and now even the manager by people purporting to be fans.
Or fake fans trolling and having an agenda is unthinkable to you?
Liverpool will not be one of the six. All the teams about us have strengthened appreciably. Stoke have now added Bony and I suspect will be one of them above us at the end. We have not done enough to ensure we are able to challenge for top 4. Too many people I think are relying on the fact that we have no Europe matches to tax us BUT neither do most of the teams who have strongly enhanced their playing staff either. I am not at all sure we will overcome them.
I disagree. Whilst all the teams that were above us last season have improved (its arguable how well), so have we. We’ve bought the 2nd best keeper in the Bundesliga for a snip. We signed the 2nd best CB in the Bundesliga, on a free. We’ve added height and composure to our backline. We’ve added goals in midfield in Wijnaldum. We’ve added speed demon Mane (who has been a revelation) to an attack that already has put 7 past City, 4 past chelsea, 5 past dortmund, 3 past Arsenal and Man U AND have scored more this calendar year than any other team. Players like Coutinho, Firmino, Origi, Can, Henderson, Lovren, Clyne, Lallana have all kicked on since Klopp has arrived, and are likely to do so this year. We’ve got rid of the deadwood and have a tight-knit, focused, talented group of players who have got to 2 finals in the past 10 months. Already in the three games this season, Tottenham and Arsenal have invited us to their ground and regretted it. I don’t know if you’ve seen Danny Rose’s interview after Saturday’s game, but that is the face of a man haunted. Furthermore, no Europe for us is much more effective than no Europe for any of our other competitors because we have Klopp and they don’t. Klopp is one of the top coaches in world football, and him on the training ground can mould us into a formidable unit, much more than what any one signing can do. Also, fuck Stoke. If we’re worrying about Stoke, West Ham, Southampton and their signings, than we aren’t LFC. Stoke should be (and definitely are) terrified of us. All the teams in the league see us and are worried by us. We most certainly will overcome them. They’re a bunch of fuckers who are jealous because they aren’t us. We are LFC. YNWA
Stoke??? Stoke??? Are you fucking mad?
And as a point, neither Southampton, west ham or spurs have strengthened as well as we have this summer.
Fuck I thought I was negative.
Man City, Chelsea, Man United: 3 games, 9 points each.
Goal difference: +6, +5, +5, respectively.
All have new managers and new players, yet they have perfect starts.
Liverpool: 3 games, 4 points, 11th position. Goal difference: -1.
Early in the season, sure… but its already had an all too familiar pattern.
For once, I’d like to see us start like contenders… even if its for just a short period. Sadly, we’re nowhere near good enough to manage even that.
Just keeping in touch is proving to be difficult enough.
Of City’s, United’s and Chelsea’s 9 points, how many have come away at Arsenal and Spurs?
At this stage of the season I’d rather have the actual 9 points on the board now than look at ifs and buts.
Winning 3 games in a row is a great confidence builder so early in the season.
We had 7 points from 9 last season.
City won their 5 first 5 by a country mile last season.
City also announced halfway thru their season that they were changing managers at the end of said season. Big mistake!
And did we take maximum points against teams we should have beaten?
Two sides to that ledger.
This squad has basically been around for more than three games and the initial performances haven’t eased the anxieties raised by a feared but expected lack lustre transfer window. Teams at the top have made significant signings, compounding anxiety.
Deluded , unrealistic expectations from the medicating that we are league contenders also cause anxiety from the cautious.
So best to take a game at a time until the mathematically impossible stage.
I tend to wait until 10 league games to see where we are and how we’ve been playing however it’s not against the big teams that I worry about.
Those teams come out to play allowing us to find the space for US to play.
It’s against the Burnleys of this world which I worry because they simply park the bus, hit us on the counter, from a set piece or we gift them a goal.
Can we get past teams at Anfield who are happy for us to have the lions share of the possession who then sneak a goal in from corner for example?
Conceding 6 goals in 3 games suggests we may struggle in that regard.
Hi Michael, I’m with you on the 10-15 game mark.
It’s hard to tell who’s doing what, and end with what come May. I’m not big on statistics, though I know they help at times, so I take what I get from games and try to make some sense of it.
For me, things can change on any given day of the game, it’s the mentality of the coach/managers and players that will swing it then. Jurgen’s more privvy to stuff than I will ever be, so speculation remains high on my resume skills as a couch potato manager.
Looking forward to the next match then.
Spurs have just signed someone to make their net spend fuck all for about every year since Daniel levy joined.
Doesn’t do them any harm. Apparently a real force.
So maybe we should calm the fuck down and let people who know what they are doing get on with it.
Well come back to this in 3 mnths