There has rarely been a better time to be a supporter of Liverpool Football Club. Now everything isn’t exactly perfect, for example the team is for some reason currently allergic to clean sheets but despite this slight defect, this squad and the situation is actually something quite special.
Now I wasn’t alive for the glory years of the late 70’s and 80’s but you have to assume that this recent run of form is about as unprecedented as it gets. We hope it will eventually lead to the long awaited Premier League glory but in the meantime we certainly should not be taking this period for granted.
The win over Everton last week confirmed the longest unbeaten run in the club’s league history of 32 games. The form at home is even better as the unbeaten streak is now approaching 50 games at Anfield. The percentage of points that have been picked up during this astonishing streak is quite simply unfathomable. Teams just aren’t supposed to go on similar tears in such a competitive league. The pace has been so frenetic that even the greatest Premier League team of all time has had a difficult time keeping up.
We are though after all in a results driven world and without glory in the Champions League in June, this incredible sequence would probably still be mocked by the masses. Thankfully though it seems that the best is yet to come.
The Reds added the European Super Cup to their European Cup glory and will enter the World Club Championships as deserved favourites. This team has seemingly developed a mentality so strong that not much seems to phase them anymore.
I have to admit though that prior to the Champions League final there was a lingering fear that not emerging victorious would render the season a bit of a failure. It certainly would have been a tough pill to swallow for the squad to have achieved so much yet seen “nothing” in return.
However, I am still an optimist by nature at the end of the day and win or lose I knew something special had occurred last season. I am reminded of the great american football film ‘Rudy’ in which an undersized football player lacking in any sort of genuine athletic ability walked on to play for his favourite team and one of the best college football teams around in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Towards the end of the film after two years of being beaten up on the practice squad without ever getting the chance to play a game in front of the home fans Rudy is considering giving up. One of his mentors correctly reminds him of what he has achieved already and what happens next doesn’t change a thing. The exact quote was:
”In this life, you don’t have to prove nothin’ to nobody but yourself. And after what you’ve gone through, if you haven’t done that by now, it ain’t gonna never happen. Now go on back”
I feel this quote could have summed up the Reds last season. They had to prove to first and foremost that they were capable of truly and unconditionally believing in themselves. For a squad that had lost a Champions League final and a title race in the space of the year it would have been incredibly to lose faith in the process.
That faith has paid off handsomely this year as the team not only has the dominant form but some big trophies already safely in the cabinet. It is a terrifying combination for opposing teams to have to face. A talented team that believes in themselves no matter the situation that they will pull through is tougher than anything.
Liverpool as I previously mentioned have stuttered at times this season. Aside from the lack of clean sheets, there have been many games going down to the wire with the outcome still in the balance yet they have made it over the line time and time again. Some may call it luck, but it’s much more than that. It is eerily similar to the great Manchester United teams under Alex Ferguson who also seemed to win so many games late on. I hated it at the time but now I understand why. It is hard to admit but they were a brilliant team and I can completely understand why rival fans can’t give us any credit, I am sure like me they will realise the error of their ways years from now.
One of Jurgen Klopp’s best qualities in my opinion is his ability to keep his talented squad happy even when not everyone is playing maybe as much as they would like. The depth of the squad has shone through this week with Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi stepping up to plate when called upon. Even the likes of Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren had to be patient to get their chance. What is consistent is there is never any signs of discontent and every player who comes in to the first team gives their all for the team.
This type of squad harmony is no accident. You have to imagine that players are recruited based on how they will fit in with the squad dynamic. Even players that supposedly had questionable attitudes before they arrived at Anfield such as Shaqiri or even Sadio Mané, are almost like completely changed people (or perhaps they were wrongly labelled as difficult without knowing the full story in the first place!).
The leadership group led by Jordan Henderson and James Milner is central to the good spirits . They are ably supported by Virgil van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum and even the likes of Lallana, Lovren, and Andy Robertson have been captains of various teams in the past or present. You get the impression that if any disagreements do arise they are dealt with in timely fashion by the players themselves.
The most recent example of course would be when Mané was visibly unhappy about Mo Salah not passing him the ball against Burnley. In a more toxic environment this would potentially have blown the whole operation up but instead the likes of Bobby Firmino, Milner and Wijnaldum instead immediately poked fun at the so called falling out. It was a telling reaction about the type of squad this is. They truly are a special group of individuals on and off the pitch.
So what I am really trying to say is while things aren’t always perfect at the moment, the club has rarely been in a better position. If you ever feel like getting negative, just take a step back and admire what has been built at the club by FSG, Michael Edwards and Jurgen Klopp in the last few seasons. In 20-30 years we will look back at this time as a golden era for the club no matter what happens in the coming weeks and months. We need to soak it all in while we can.