Liverpool Football Club are in the midst of a quite remarkable run of form. As seems to be commonplace though these days, many critics have chosen to focus on the negatives but please don’t be fooled, I can assure you that this team is most certainly going places. Since falling to Tottenham on October 22nd, the Reds have remained undefeated for 14 games scoring an astonishing 45 goals and conceding just 10 in the process. Yes there have been a few too many draws but even a blind man can surely see that far more things are going right than wrong for the club at the present moment.
Now I do admit that I am not broadcasting any sort of startling revelations here. It is more than widely reported that Liverpool know how to score goals. It is even more of a well known fact that Liverpool also know how to concede goals. I am not focusing on either of the above today though. Instead, I have chosen to focus on the aspect of the squad that has impressed even more this season: their incredible unity and love for the game.
A key ingredient of almost every successful team is great team cohesion. It sounds so obvious but if teams don’t particular enjoy each other’s company then it will be that much harder to sustain any sort of winning run. One of the main reasons for this is because as Rocky Balboa once said: “the world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows…”. This meaning that any team can mesh when things are going well but it is a true test of a cohesive unit based on how they react to adversity. This squad all seem to stick together through thick and thin and that bodes well in attempting to develop a winning side.
You only have to look at some of our most recent signings to get an example for the kind of people Jurgen Klopp wants around the club. Before Mohamed Salah even went on this historical scoring rampage, it was evident very soon after he signed that he was simply a nice guy with little in the way of ego. I liked him a lot before he had even kicked a ball for the Reds. It sounds silly but it really makes a difference to me. It is also extremely pleasing to see how well Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is doing now he has settled in at Anfield. Many opposing fans (and even some of our own!) mocked this signing at the time but his recent form has been very eye catching and more than proving his value. However, by far my favourite Ox moment so far this season was his defense of Philippe Coutinho when a journalist asked yet another pointless question about the Brazilian’s future. It was a clear indicator of the strength of the squad behind the scenes. It was the type of cohesion that cannot be fabricated. We have some truly good people within the team and I absolutely love it.
A great case in point is the attitude of Coutinho this season. All summer, he was clearly angling for his dream move to Barcelona. I could understand why he wanted to go although I do wish he would have gone about the whole thing a little bit differently at the time. However, since it became clear he was going to stay he has been nothing short of first class in his behavior on and off the pitch. It is far easier said than done but Coutinho honestly could not have done more and genuinely seems to be enjoying himself this season. Many lesser personalities would have sulked having not gotten their way but not our Phil!
Perhaps I am a bit naive, but to me it is highly important that I like the players on the team as people as well as their playing ability. It is for that reason that I do not miss Raheem Sterling and why I am not disappointed at all that Brendan Rodgers missed out on signing Dele Alli. I try to give every player who joins the club a chance (even Mario Balotelli) but at the end of the day it is so much easier to support a player like Adam Lallana compared to a Ander Herrera for example.
Little details like the Firmino and Salah high five in the background of Coutinho’s goal on Boxing Day prove my point better than any words I could ever type. Such a nice touch and what the team seems to be all about.
Firmino & Salah in the background 😍
— AnfieldNation (@AnfieldNation) December 27, 2017
The counter argument is naturally that nice guys finish last. Are Liverpool’s players too nice? It is thought that similar players lack a killer instinct that truly separates the great players from the world class players. It is an argument often aimed at individuals such as Eden Hazard who despite being a truly stupendously talented footballer, maybe hasn’t quite ever risen to the heights he probably should have reached. This phenomenon could certainly explain why Liverpool have had such a difficult time protecting leads this year. It is one factor for sure. But almost certainly not the only one.
Liverpool have also been accused of lacking that cynical edge at times. Consistently only Emre Can seems to play with a bite to his game and he wouldn’t be in most supporter’s starting eleven I would imagine. Naby Keita should certainly help fill that void but truthfully I’m not overly concerned with having too nice of a reputation. In my humble opinion, being snide is just a little bit overrated.
We have been treated some quite scintillating football so far this season. Sometimes the result hasn’t always been the right one but I am certainly enjoying watching. However, it is the squad unity that has been a particularly pleasing and undervalued part of the campaign so far. I am convinced that nice guys won’t finish last for long and the team dynamic that has blossomed at Anfield can only be a positive sign for what is still to come. Keep on having fun out there Reds!