Spend weeks denying fourth is some sort of achievement, spend half a day biting your nails to the knuckle because you want it so much. Welcome to Liverworld; keep your nerves jangling at all times.
It’s done anyway, though there’s still a qualifier left (he said, sadistically). I’ve sat and stood through some weird seasons these past 40 years, but this has to be right up there in the strangeness stakes.
Game after game it’s been “we’ll do this” or “no chance” and I’ve been wrong more than I can count. That’s not right. I know I’m stupid but it can’t just be that, surely?
The erratic fitness and form of almost every player lead to one conclusion; the squad was never up to the job.
Rotation isn’t just maintaining fitness; it’s also keeping players on their toes. If you want this to be a club that does fine every few years, by all means mollycoddle them and make sure you don’t hurt their feelings by even hinting they’re replaceable.
Whenever Klopp reached into his secondary level, especially during a hectic January, he invariably emerged with fistfuls of sand. It cost Liverpool big time.
There’ll be inevitable comparisons with United, our leviathanic allies in madness and entitlement.
Not been too great a season for them either, but if they wind up with two trophies and Champions League football they’ve done better than us without ever looking superior in any way.
They’ve painfully adopted the obligatory Spesh trait of being hard to break down. Both sets of fans will repeat “keep the good, fix the bad” in their sleep.
Easier said than done, though if I ever gambled I’d take Mourinho’s odds.
Liverpool had ten years of slow rebuild, defensive discipline, beat whoever you should and hope for the best against the best when Houllier and Benitez ran the show. Under Rodgers, and now Klopp, we’ve mutated into “strap in, sift through the debris for whatever we can use when the wild ride stops”. It’s been going on five seasons now and I’ve never acclimatised.
It’s exhausting. Feast or famine, nothing in between. It’s harder to deal with bad days once you’ve seen this team’s not inconsiderable gifts.
All those mid-table deadbeat clubs, they know they’ll never see anything spectacular so become immunised to it all; celebrating the odd perfect game that comes their way.
Watching Liverpool is a remorseless diet of gruel and caviar. It sounds gruesome, sometimes it is, but when they turn it on… Even with a season devoid of European entanglements fitness was the Achilles heel, aptly enough. There’ll be extra games next season, so we’ll have to factor that in.
Looks like another season of transition then, getting used to the workload on an annual basis. Wonder if this is the club’s clever plan to keep you hooked for life?
When does preparation end and actual achievement begin?
Klopp’s giggly, quirky nature starts to merge into the great swindle, if you’re cynical or jaded enough. Is the novelty of a cute German going to fade? Maybe, but as with all managers, results will make or break him eventually.
That brings us back to the “boys”, or whether a manager should be mates with his players. Of course you can never be a tyrant without leverage, something you can threaten them with.
Good players will just move, average players can shrug and ask who else are you going to pick?
Either way, Klopp’s got another fight on here. Perhaps he’s lying doggo, waiting for his chance to bite?
Players will stay for trophies and pay. As a couplet it’s crude, but rarely proven wrong. On their day Liverpool can be remarkable.
How many such days do you need to actually win stuff? A few more than we get at the moment.
Is that unkind? Ungrateful even? I don’t make the rules. We’re improving and that’s probably all you can ask of anybody.
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