A SHITE weekend then, all told. The Reds doing what they did in a manner that seemed all so preventable. A must-win, had-to-win, surely-will-win…lost. A real sickener. A gut punch. A game lost twice.
The pain has been predictably piled on today. Arsenal winning with a huge stroke of fortune around the offside law just a week after Liverpool had none around a similar decision at Old Trafford. Chelsea securing victory to move 10 points clear of the Reds.
After topping the table in November, Liverpool now sit fourth — still within touching distance of Spurs and Arsenal above, but now looking down with a furrowed brow at Manchester City and Manchester United.
It’s been a very hard couple of days to stomach. It feels like the same old same old. Liverpool, that.
Again we’re talking about defenders that can’t be relied on, about squads that look too thin. About an atmosphere bordering on the embarrassing.
In one freezing fell swoop the Anfield feel-good was sucked up and spat into the Mersey. So now what?
Context was no comfort on Saturday afternoon. The bigger picture was hard to see when the one in front of your eyes was a modern day re-work of The Scream.
But here we are. It seems many of our number remain down in the dumps a day on. Unable to raise themselves. Seeing only disappointment and despair.
I get it. It’s hard. Seeing Liverpool as far adrift as 14-1 to win the Premier League this season isn’t going to put smiles on faces and it’s easy for the mind to sew together 27 years of trying and conclude it will never happen again.
How can we compete – with those wages, those fees, those squads? Look at Manchester United’s bench last week. Look at Chelsea’s today.
Look at ours.
Why aren’t Liverpool buying anyone in this window? When will Liverpool’s defence ever become mean again? Is cash conservatism costing us dear again? Are we really to believe that in every team, every squad, that exists in world football there isn’t a player available that can’t be an asset for Liverpool and can’t be tempted to Anfield right now?
All these questions and more have spun around and around on repeat ever since the whistle blew on Saturday afternoon. Every turn towards football media hammers home the message once more. You fucked it up. You blew it. Just like that year. And that one. It’s what Liverpool do.
But hang on. While overreaction, #bantz, and tools who spend their lives fishing for reaction on the internet is now par for the course in modern life, what about the stuff we can control? What about us?
With the usual caveat on the danger of speaking about how thousands and millions of supporters think and feel, there has been an almost brattish reaction to this latest setback from swathes of our support.
OK, Liverpool are — right now — looking unlikely to win the league this season. But meanwhile there is a cup semi-final to be won. It might be the least favourable of the three on offer when Liverpool kicked off the season, but it is a trophy nevertheless. And last time I checked, Liverpool haven’t won many of them in the past 11 years. One, in fact, in 2012. Five years ago. For many clubs the wait is a lot longer.
What is so galling about the Swansea defeat, and the subsequent likely effect on challenging for the title, is that we are conditioned by the continual failure. Yet, meanwhile, we still rightly insist on high standards befitting of Liverpool’s name.
The club needs success. Of every kind. Players enjoy winning things. So do fans. And Jürgen Klopp has got a personal monkey to shift from his back after losing five finals as a manager. Win one, win more.
If Liverpool overcome Southampton this week, it could mean a chance to beat Manchester United in a cup final at Wembley. If that is something you don’t really fancy the club doing then you’re doing football wrong. The Reds remain in the FA Cup, too, while one of the best league placings in years is firmly within reach.
This isn’t to explain away failure. It isn’t being an apologist for anyone (it comes to something when I’m predicting the shite thrown our way on a regular basis before it’s even happened). It’s being a supporter of a team that can still achieve all kinds this season. A club that can give us great days and nights to add to the many good ones we’ve already enjoyed — this season and in seasons past.
Some are throwing toys around and saying they’re not bothered about the Champions League. Again, I struggle with the logic. Liverpool should be in that competition. European nights at Anfield have been special so many times. Trips abroad watching the Reds with mates are brilliant. And on another level, just this summer gone, we saw how players make decisions to sign for clubs based on whether clubs are in the competition or not.
Do I want Liverpool to win two cups, finish second and play in the Champions League next season? There’s a better scenario, that’s a given. But that doesn’t sound like a bad season to me. Quite the opposite, in fact. Given some of the shite we’ve sat through in very recent years, it sounds brilliant.
Last season Liverpool finished eighth. The season before sixth. The other side of the second-placed finish in 13-14 are league finishes of seventh and eighth.
The name of Liverpool needs to be pulled up the mast again. Despite this latest setback it still feels like that is happening. The appointment of Jürgen Klopp excited everyone. It had the football world sitting up and taking notice. Even Alex Ferguson.
In 15 months at the club, Liverpool have contested two cup finals. The Reds have consistently fought and conquered the best clubs in the league. We’ve been a contender. We want more, of course we do. But it’s a start.
Everyone can see where it has gone wrong. When it shouldn’t have, basically. Burnley, Southampton, Bournemouth, West Ham, Sunderland and now Swansea. Yet Liverpool have lost three league games all season. They’ve just gone a calendar year unbeaten at home in the league. The Reds are the best at scoring, but flawed at keeping them out.
The direction feels right. The development of players improved. Plans to merge Melwood and Kirkby making sense. Steven Gerrard on board a feel-good.
A squad swelled by quality would help. The missed targets of the summer could have and would have helped. But the coulda woulda shoulda should really be for another time.
Autopsies have begun before the season is dead. Joel Matip is now ready to go. Sadio Mane’s absence isn’t for much longer. We’re likely to see the best again of Philippe Coutinho soon.
For all of those reasons and more we shouldn’t carry the coffin of the season into the match on Wednesday. Anyone who thinks the vibe of the supporters doesn’t reach the pitch is talking nonsense. They know. They hear. They’re human. So make them feel good.
Think how many clubs would swap places with Liverpool right now. There are 16 teams below us in the league more deserving of the finger pointing. Six Premier League clubs are already out of the FA Cup, including Everton and their surprisingly vocal fans. Only four remain in the League Cup, Liverpool one of them.
This group of players is still capable of great things. There is still hope. Yes there are lessons to be learned. Yes Liverpool need a deeper squad. Yes Liverpool should invest in the summer. But it’s worth remembering what Klopp wants and how he wants to do it.
In the summer he said: “Other clubs can go out and spend more money and collect top players, yes. Do I have to do it differently to that? Actually, I want to do it differently. I would even do it differently if I could spend that money. If I spend money it is because I am trying to build a real team. You can win championships, you can win titles, but maybe there is a manner in which you want it. It is about how it is.”
That is why Klopp is here. He has theory, a plan, a way. He is a leader with a vision. And Liverpool have signed up for that. For the long term. You might agree, you might not.
In the meantime there is a season to be getting on with. Two cups to win. Sixteen League games, nine of which are at home.
As Klopp said on Friday: “If you are with us, push us.” Honestly, try it. It beats the alternative.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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Spot on Robbo. Yes it was a painful kick in the balls but the season’s far from over. Of course there are lots of questions about squad depth and mentality, and certainly when we’re missing a few of the first team regulars it looks like there just isn’t sufficient quality to replace them. Personally I’d love to see some strengthening this window but I realise it only makes sense if they’re what Jurgen reckons he needs beyond the remaining months of this season. Let’s see. But there were a lot of assumptions over the past few months that we had the league won, now the sentiment is that there’s no chance. Truth is, we don’t know how it’s going to shape up. I reckon if we beat Chelsea there’s a chance Arsenal may do a number on them in their next match. Suddenly they’re hauled in and the gap doesn’t look so unbridgeable. Certainly there’s no room for any more slip-ups but as fans the only thing we can do is stay positive, keep supporting the Reds, take one match at a time and see where it takes us. If that includes silverware and Champions league qualification then it’s significant progress on recent years, and something to build on. That’s not to deny the continuing painful yearning for the one we all need and want but there’ll be plenty of time for the post-mortem come the end of the season and hopefully to add the talent that will finally get us over the line.
Great article Robbo. I think we were all a bit raw Saturday. But we are going in the right direction we have the best manager in the world for us. We are in such a better place than 18 months ago. However if the league has gone which I think it has then top 4 becomes so important. Sure cups are great who doesn’t like a day out at Wembley. Klopp likes to develop young players that’s his modus operandi, if you are not on board with that then the Klopp reign is not going to be for you. But Klopp still knows we need players and those players are much more likely to come if we have Champions league. Look at the Gotze situation last year… think about Dadhoud and Pusilic this summer… we can’t rely on Klopp’s magnetism alone. Up the Mighty Reds!
Oh thank goodness.
That’s much better.
Up the positive Reds!
Great piece Robbo. Yes onwards and upwards; Chelsea certainly didn’t have it their own way against Hull at home- it happens. We will improve again.
Up the rebounding Reds!
Great stuff, Robbo. Articles like this should be given out at the turnstiles on Wednesday, next Saturday and the following Tuesday. It might make people realise what we’ve got going on here and what can be achieved not only this season, but the seasons to come with this manager. Up the achievable Reds.
I want to say my piece about the Anfield atmosphere. I’m a wool and have been there many a time from Ireland. It’s been a few years since my last trip and decided I won’t go again mainly due to the atmosphere. It got worse with each passing match I attended which were always a couple of years apart. Truth is they’re are too many wools at Anfield. Too many Asians and too many Scandinavians and that’s a cultural thing. They’re both conservative peoples and there is nothing wrong with that , it just doesn’t make for a raucous atmosphere. They don’t sing they don’t chant and they don’t really have a flavour for rivalry. But they are not the only or even main problem. Almost every other club has the same atmosphere problem and that is too many families, too many young kids, too many women and too many old dears at the grounds and that’s exactly what Sky wanted. The game is way way too sanitized. Listen to a commentator apologize if a speaker picks up a swear word on the pitch during a live broadcast. I mean give me a break. I beg subscribers and non subscribers alike to listen to the two Rivals podcasts the lads did about the Mancs. While not advocating a return to the match day experience of the 70’s or 80’s we have to acknowledge it’s far far too much the other way now and has to be rectified. Safe standing has to be reintroduced. Designated singing sections maybe and a redistribution of season tickets so groups of friends or family can sit or stand together. They’re are many wools who have season tickets for Anfield who attend the Utd game and the derby and that’s it, and sell on all their othet tickets on a weekly basis to whomever they can. They should be stripped of their tickets.Having a season ticket should be a privilege not a racket. There are probably too many season tickets anyway. Most tickets should go on general sale and to local supporters first, that’s what being part of your LOCAL club should be about not flogging tickets to out of towners like me just because a day tripper is more likely to spend more money in the club shop than a Scouser.
You’d better stop supporting Liverpool then if you feel that strongly about it because as you said yourself you’re a wool.
If wools are the problem, then maybe look up your local Irish team and go to their games week in, week out?
I would like to see fences and cages back.Darts and golfballs with nails in,home made Kung Fu throwing stars bottles of piss and cups of scalding tea thrown from the upper decks. The fact that the old standing Kop could be as quiet as the grave doesn’t even come in to it.
Klopp feels the pain, he knows the pain. Mainz and Dortmund had success, it didn’t come immediately but improvement was there from day one. That’s where we are at. Two cup finals year one, Two cup finals and a champions league place year two, who wouldn’t of taken that after the years of shite we have had to put up with. YNWA
Need to see a massive reaction against Soton. Klopp said we are a momentum team and it will be very worrying if we are flat again, it has to start turning around soon. Hopefully Matip and Mane back in the first XI within 2 weeks and we can go back on a run again til the end of the season and get that top 4 spot and 2 decent cup showings.
Listen dagon my piece said nothing about wanton acts of violence or a return to hooliganism but atmosphere inside every ground not just Anfield has dwindled to embarrassing levels and fans need to acknowledge WHY that is the case before it can be rectified.
Viewed from a crouching position at the back of the Anfield lower on Saturday the thing that occurred to me was that some of the players no longer look to be enjoying themselves. Of course it’s supposed to be hard work, but Jurgen and we all need to communicate belief and a bit of joy to the players. When we equalised, I did my normal 8 year old reaction. The bloke next to me seemed embarrassed by my enthusiasm. But don’t we all need to turn up like 8 year olds and just hope that might help a little? Let’s go again: get to the league cup final and run round Utd in big Wembley spaces.
We are in the chasing pack, Chelsea have had an extraordinary run not seen in a long time plus they’ve had luck with decisions and injuries. We are doing fine compared to last season it’s just Chelsea anamoly causing everyone to have a meltdown.
Goodman Robbo, I needed that today, Forget about the weekend and let’s be positive for what we can achieve!!!
Your a wool a alright but also racist, sexist and ageist! Get a grip
Agree with every word, but I feel this sums the article up:
“In 15 months at the club, Liverpool have contested two cup finals. The Reds have consistently fought and conquered the best clubs in the league. We’ve been a contender. We want more, of course we do. But it’s a start.”
We are ahead of schedule, certainly in terms of our expectations. We’ve seen Klopp take these lads to places like Stamford Bridge, The Etihad and The Emirates and win. Not just win, but win well. We have destroyed Manchester City on their patch, beaten them again in the return fixture and then again this season. He has drilled these players into a unit that can savage our rivals in a whirlwind of counter-pressing brilliance.
Perhaps that’s what makes games like yesterday so incomprehensible. How can we be losing at home to the bottom side? It seems almost comedic. Obvious vulerabilities without Matip and Mane laid bare. Perfect storm.
This lot can respond to set-backs. We’ve seen it. Can’t wait for Wednesday.
Agree completely that we are ahead of schedule, so that’s why I’m not losing my shit over this. If someone had said to you on the day Klopp signed up that at the end of that season we’d finish 8th (but bizarrely only 6 points off 4th) and reach 2 cup finals, and in his first full season we’d finish 5th and maybe win a cup you’d have taken it given the state we were in when he took over.
I know Saturday was frustrating as hell for all of us, but sometimes you’ve got to look at the bigger picture. The league title is gone realistically; Chelsea probably need to win 9 and draw 4 of their last 16 games to get over the line and can anyone see them not doing that? But top 4 is there for the taking, and that would be a huge success given what the rest of them have spent on transfer fees and wages.
If we get through on Wednesday, beat the mancs at Wembley and finish top 4 that would be a fantastic season in my eyes. Challenging properly for the title was always going to take a few seasons, we can’t just go out and buy a whole squad in one window like the Manchester clubs and Chelsea could if they wanted to. It took Klopp 3 seasons to get Dortmund where he wanted them, gradually adding quality players over a few windows to build one of the best squads in Europe, and I think it’s going to take a similar amount of time for him to get this squad where he wants it. We’ve all just got to get behind him and accept that there will be a few setbacks along the way.
Up the reds
I’m just disappointed. Feels like we’ve been here a million times before. Get your hopes built up just to be knocked down.
27 years without the title grinds you down.
It was one bad day at the office. Yes, we were shite (really, REALLY shite), but we have 16 games left – 9 at home. If we can pick up 11 wins and 5 draws (not inconceivable) then that’s 38 points, meaning a total of 83. That could do it you know.
The most important thing now is to win on Weds, then beat Wolves and get that bit of ‘gnarly-ness’ back in the team and fans. Then do Chelsea and we’re back in it massively. I’m not giving up yet. We can still do this.
Too many young kids?
Too many women ?
Anyone ever heard of the prawn sandwich brigade? Don’t tell me they dont exist at every ground!!
Great stuff. Summed up in the last paragraph for me.
Something’s happening here. He will get it right, might take a few more seasons, might not but the reason we are all really really gutted after the Swansea game is because we all know that we are seeing a proper team with a proper manager trying to build something.
Let’s get behind them from the very first minute.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!
Still believe we can win the league, but we have to start building momentum by beating So’ton on Wednesday, then we’ll see from there… Up the winning the league and cup Reds!!
Chelsea need to lose at least three games and draw one regardless of what we do.
We aren’t going to catch them.
Thanks for the nice article Rob. This makes sense and helps put things in perspective after getting angry at the last game’s result and performance.
I really think it was important not to lose to the Mancs. A loss there would have been a bigger psychological blow there, than losing to the Swans. I was not chanting title this or that, just wanted us to do our best week in and week out. We did not against the Swans, but I am not devastated like I was after that infamous slip game, just angry. If you think I’m angry, think what Jurgen must have been like.
For me, against Southampton the Reds and the fans at Anfield (families, children, old timers, Asians, wools, Scousers and Will Ferrell) alike need to turn it into a Colosseum instead of a library!
The same Colosseum atmosphere is needed when Chelsea come to us. I really think it will be the manner in how we defeat Chelsea that might cause them to stumble mentally over the next few matches. This might just help Arsenal and some of the others take their shots to bring them down — So hit them as hard as you can in all the right places and let them know WE ARE LIVERPOOL!!!
UP THE PISSED OFF REDS!!!