I HAVE experienced a bit of a turnaround.
When the Reds consolidated a slightly disappointing return of four points from the first nine by not investing further in the transfer market at the end of August, I was left somewhat frustrated.
I felt Jürgen Klopp was being a little too evangelical in refusing to “overpay” in addressing some obvious gaps in his squad.
While I respected surgical addition of players to attend to most of the apparent key weaknesses (lack of pace and width in attack, runners from midfield, and surety and presence in defence), I felt we could have done more. I worried Klopp’s approach might see the “stubborn” manager tag used as an autumn stick to beat him with if things went awry.
Left-back was the prime issue and milder concerns prevailed elsewhere — and still there are some misgivings regarding quality cover in key positions but, and it’s quite a big but here, results and performances can quickly change perceptions.
Thankfully, nobody pays me for being right. That’s the manager’s job, while I’m allowed to whistle in the wind or bark at the moon to my heart’s content depending on my disposition.
James Milner has very adeptly filled the defensive void and suddenly, in a squad where places are at such a premium, talk of leaving out Phil Coutinho — our best player for two years — doesn’t make you a candidate for a stay at the funny farm.
Leicester, Chelsea — and the midweek cup win at Derby — have altered my thinking and that of the bookies too. Liverpool are now second favourites for the league, clipped from 10-1 fifth choice by the odds-makers at the start of the season into a tantalising 13-2.
A thoroughly challenging opening salvo of fixtures has been negotiated with Liverpool’s claims enhanced rather than damaged. London Bridge isn’t quite falling down but it was seriously breached across those three tough away matches.
An impressive seven points accrued in capital gains has shifted the title odds significantly. Neutrals are waking up to a realisation something is brewing at Anfield. The Reds are now preferred not only to vanquished Chelsea and Arsenal, but also a Manchester United who have hit temporary buffers, as well as strong starters Everton and Spurs.
I’m prone to a moan as much as the next man but I always expect Liverpool to be the best, or at the very least aspire to that rank.
I can’t abide a defeatist, subservient mentality that has crept in to modern Liverpudlianism. Witness the kind of self-pitying crap that “we’ll never see Gerrard’s like again” when Stevie G bowed out. Or, the doom merchants who claim “if it doesn’t work out for Klopp we’ve nowhere left to go”.
These despairing, alien sentiments ignore a long and rich history and boastful culture that predate even my Liverpool days and ignore the club’s ever-growing pull on fans all over the world.
While there is a generally positive vibe around the Reds’ robust start to the season, some of the fatalistic contemporary tendencies still exist in talk that a potentially rampant Liverpool will always find one outfit too good. Like Arsenal in 2002, like United in 2009 and like Manchester City in 2014; when Gerard Houllier, Rafa Benitez and Brendan Rodgers ended valiant runners-up.
Again, City, refreshed by Pep Guardiola, with a 100 per cent record and a five-point cushion represent that bridge too far in the mind of our new-age cynics. This, with 33 games to play, difficult away matches behind us and City, their win at Old Trafford apart, yet to be truly tested in a long, hard campaign.
What I’m driving at is that I believe we can win this League.
I’ve already seen enough from the dynamism on show so far to warrant use of a quaint little phrase a mate of mine and I shared throughout our teenage years in the 80s. “Fuck off. We’re Liverpool”.
What is more, and most tellingly, I reckon Klopp privately shares the dream — even if he is super tetchy when pressed on such matters in public. His command of the language has accelerated apace over recent months. At his pre-Hull City press conference yesterday he was in bombastic mood. Fending off respected members of the press pack, he demanded “the most special atmosphere at 3pm on Saturday.”
You don’t need loony atmospheres if the top four alone is your goal. Klopp, the ultimate momentum manager, has his sights set much higher. He’s shooting for the stars but aiming the land on the moon. He wants the fans to fuel the mission and there’s no room on the Red rocket for those who don’t share his ambition.
After the pomp and ceremony of the Main Stand opening and a sunlit vibrant Anfield at tea-time against Leicester, Klopp wants to ensure against a complacent crowd tomorrow. He’s bang on the money there. The team should kick off amid expectant crescendo.
The Hull fixture is being billed a test of Liverpool’s title credentials — and I get that. But in reality a team with the Reds pretensions should win comfortably.
The Lancashire suffocation by Burnley’s blanket defence has to be perceived by the players as an anomaly — an off-day versus a chronic nervous tic triggered by parked buses. Truer title examinations have already been sat and passed with distinction.
The reality surrounding Liverpool’s league-winning credentials rests with Klopp’s ability to foster a belief and mentality that settles for nothing less than a string of wins. A mindset that cherishes a 1-0 victory as much as it gleans confidence from bagging fours, fives and sixes.
However, where my main confidence lies is in the quality of player at Klopp’s disposal. His signings have all hit the ground running. Sadio Mane, Joel Matip and Gini Wijnaldum have all individually addressed the frailties apparent in last season’s line-up.
And, the legacy he inherited — which all along Klopp spoke highly of despite fans’ wailing — is shaping up very nicely. Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Divock Origi and Lucas Leiva haven’t turned out too bad after all, despite the naysayers. Only the qualities of Daniel Sturridge and Coutinho were never in doubt and they both remain integral.
Klopp’s brew of new and old is sufficiently heady for us to begin to dream again. Those of us comfortable with the notion of believing are often derided for forever saying it’s gonna be our year.
Well, one day soon we’re going to be right. And, again, we can say to those who mocked us: “Fuck off. We’re Liverpool.”
Klopp is the key here. I think, deep down, he really senses something is, as Neil said after Chelsea, afoot. There is something going on here. Its 10 points from 15. But it feels different. It feels like we have gears to go through rather than simply at full throttle and on course for 70 points and a top 4 finish.
How it all ends in May – I have no idea. But it simply feels like Klopp knows something is brewing. I bet he has looked at the fixtures and thought “get out of these first 5 with a foundation built, and we go for broke until xmas and see where we are”. To the point that, whilst Burnley might show we have (probably unfounded) issues against some sides, its the big games that set our reputation for the season. Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Leicester create the impression that make side fear us.
It’s game on. Let’s see how we go.
I love that sentiment from Mike. There is something a bit different afoot and I can’t help but get 100% turnt’ up(that’s an American thing – soz) when Klopp basically says “there’s no room for naysayers on this rocket that’s headed to the stars – get up and let’s make the best atmosphere yet happen tomorrow at 3 in the afternoon. Because this is Anfield. I am so pumped up for every game. Hull are no exception. Me and my mates all the way across the pond can only think of one thing in this moment, and every 24 hours before the reds are about to kick off. It’s ridiculous but it’s true. Fuck off. We’re Liverpool.
After the derby in April, we have the last 8 PL games against bottom sides. Can we keep to getting 2 points/game til the Everton clash, we have a run in that could yield 84 for the season? That enough? Looks possible with a few additions in January, could it be real?
Again, another excellent article that captures the current mood of Liverpool fans.
I agree with all of this, especially the ‘I’m prone to a moan’ bit. Haha, only joking mate, in high spirits because I’ve just finished for the weekend and we all know what’s happening tomorrow. I’ve thought about little else for the past 6 days and 22 hours. I think I have the same affliction. When it’s going well it’s just fuckin great and everything is roses. When it goes wrong it’s so utterly heart breaking that it manifests itself in anger and then naturally, there has to be scapegoats.
Hull will know Liverpool are in form. Phelan will get them pumped up with let’s ruin these Scouse bastards party. They’ll come out and hear their fans singing ‘is this a mortuary / library’ and ‘where’s your famous atmosphere’. They’ll grow in confidence and stature and think we can do this, they’re over rated. Then as time goes on and we haven’t scored they’ll get an extra boost because the crowd will be moaning and shouting abuse at our players. They’ll hear it. Ends 1-1.
Sorry, I thought this was the past. Just remembered, when they come out the crowd will be in full voice. The singing will be coming from all 4 sides of the ground. When they take a throw in or a corner they’ll be getting abuse and snarled at. It’s not pleasant that, whoever you are. Psychologically, they’ll think these are good, listen to their fans. The fans know they’re good too, it wasn’t like this last time I played here. I don’t like it. Even if we lose today they’ll be other games we can take points. They’ll subconsciously realise this ones not for them. Heads will drop by just a small amount. Performance levels will follow. Liverpool will score as a result. The crowd will sing louder. Klopp will be animated orchestrating us on the field and in the stands. The players will sense the need to win and what it means to everyone. They’ll all want to be the one that ends up the hero. It’s human nature and they’ll know they’ll get a big Klopp hug too. They’ll put all their effort into it. Liverpool will score again and again after that. The place will be buzzin.
Come on Reds, let’s get behind them big time. If we don’t play our part then we can’t blame anyone else. It’s down to us to get the points.
The game tomorrow will set us up nicely for the rest of the season, the confidence running through the veins of both the players and Klopp at this moment in time is there for all to see. In the past Liverpool have always had a tendency to play poorly and not be able to win the games against the so called smaller teams, this season is different though, because the way we are playing and the difference in mindset from last season were we became scared from corners or freekicks which ended in goals against us, this year we have the wall which is Joel Matip as centre back alongside a rejuveneted Dejan Lovren, who even chips in with the odd goal now. Midfield Looks decent until now, although a bit of defensive minded players would have been welcome, we are an attack thinking team and always want to score or create chances, when we are not dominating games defensive capabilities will be tested and for some reason I feel Wijnaldum and Coutinho may not be up to scracth, although both Henderson and Emre Can can do well in the Centre of Midfield. With Sadio Mane and his pace to burn we will destroy a lot of teams at home, beginning with Hull tomorrow. I hope Sturridge gets a goal or two for his predatory confidence in front of goal to be realised again. All in all fellow Liverpool fans, these games need to be taken seriously, seeing Klopps press conference yesterday and the great atmosphere being created that he speaks of makes me think he takes this game as seriously as against Arsenal, Leicester and Chelsea, in the past we gave up after 60 mins when we were unable to break down and destroy the smaller teams in the league. I pray to god that we finish this game in the 1st half, and relax in the 2nd then move onto good old Cymru(Wales) and defeat the swans in there back yard, then we will not even be bothered about the upcoming international break. Come on you MIGHTY REDS, this season the title is up for grabs we have to want it and go for it with all our heart, mind and soul. Lets do this LIVERPOOL.
Mike, someone hacked your account lately?
But seriously, reading your last couple of postings, I felt some notorious bitterer (well, not the Toffee type), whom I imagined shouting at his son after one bad remark brought home from school, reminding him of the “high standards of the family” and so on, turned significantly over the course of time.
You always have/had a point, but it felt like a proud supporter of club indulging in long gone glory. – You arrived in the present, congrats! ;)
Surely this is no coincidence !
A once in a generation chance to reawaken the magic of old glories in a revamped stadium, and a man in charge with the nous to recognise it, the ability to achieve it and the balls to go for it !
We’re gonna win the league.
Said so since before the start of the season. There is something happening. I too feel there’s more gears to go through.
We’re gonna win the league.