Following Liverpool’s first loss of the Premier League season last night, The Anfield Talk’s Ronan (@ronan_orourke) looks at the negativity following defeat.
We might as well all pack it in right now. At least that is the impression you’d have gotten following the astoundingly negative reaction to last night’s defeat to Manchester City.
Regardless of circumstances, a trip to the Etihad is one away game where a loss shouldn’t be that surprising, and certainly not as demoralising as it has ended up being. Manchester City are a quality side, a team that arguably has been Europe’s best club side over the past two seasons.
Every defeat hurts of course, but I feel there could be more reasoned reactions to what was most definitely not a disastrous result.
In fairness, the overall hype was already getting a bit excessive. There was already talk of last night being a title decider which is a tad preposterous.
The media I understand were going to put as much emphasis on this match as they possibly could and that is fair enough. We don’t however have to believe everything we read in the papers or on websites.
This was unquestionably a top of the table clash and maybe somewhere down the road the result will matter more, but just for the moment it was just a defeat against a world class side which still leaves us top of the pile.
Another element of hype that was slowly building into a burdensome ball and chain was the possibility of being just the second Premier League side after Arsenal back in 2004 to go undefeated. Once again, there is a very good reason that this incredible feat has only happened once.
Even the absolutely all conquering City side of last season lost two matches. I say it was going to happen eventually so get it out of the way now in a defeat that shouldn’t hurt the psyche too much. There is plenty of time to bounce back from this one. Imagine the pressure if this result had taken place with 3 games to go!
No need to panic here. We will go again and we do so with a 4 point advantage in the bank.
The FA Cup has also come at an opportune moment for this squad who had blitzed the gauntlet of the December fixtures with alarming ease. Once again, there is a very good reason why it is extremely difficult to go through December with an unblemished record. The fixture pile up wasn’t quite as harsh as previous years but the performances were exceptional all the same.
These results do come at a price endurance wise though and giving some key men a rest for the FA Cup is only going to benefit the team next weekend when they make the long trip south to face Brighton. It is time to recharge the batteries and brace for another key period of football.
We have waited as a fan-base a very long time to be in such a healthy place. The 2014 run was a weekly game of Russian Roulette where we never quite knew when the jig was going to be up. Don’t get me wrong, that was an incredibly fun season but it never quite felt sustainable as we eventually, and painfully discovered not just at the end of the campaign but in the ensuing years.
The 2009 challengers under Rafa Benitez were an exceptional side especially defensively. However, the reliance of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard to unlock defences ultimately led to too many draws which somehow saw us finishing runner up despite just two defeats that year, and a complete annihilation of the title winners at Old Trafford. Many of us have no memories at all of 1990 and this is certainly the best feeling I have had about a squad since.
Something is very different on this occasion. This is a team that has been built over a 3 year period by Jurgen Klopp. By keeping and improving the best players from the Brendan Rodgers era and adding key pieces bit by bit.
Mo Salah is of course now a global superstar but the team isn’t exclusively reliant on him, far from it. There is a feeling that team will only get better no matter how the rest of this season plays out.
For example we are now seeing Fabinho fully settling in to the team while the incredibly talented Naby Keita is still yet to show his true value. The return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is now almost in tangible touching distance. One could say that this trio would be our ideal starting midfield if all fully fit and in form. Exciting times lie ahead no doubt.
Did some players have below average performances yesterday? Unquestionably. Gini Wijnaldum and Dejan Lovren in particular looked well off what their recent form shows they are capable of. This happens to the best of players.
This is no good reason to start kicking them while they are down. Every supporter has a right to an opinion but that is no excuse to abuse players after poor showings. Instead, we should be picking them up and reminding them why are we are such a brilliant fanbase.
Negativity can spread like wildfire if it is not sufficiently dealt with at the source. Players like Lovren and Jordan Henderson have been putting up with it for years. There is a very good reason why top coaches keep relying on these players in big situations.
They are top players who have demonstrated their quality over the years, and yet there are individuals who cannot wait for them to make mistakes so they can show how right they were all along. I really don’t get that at all.
It is a toxic way to be and I stay well away from it. After all, I watch football to enjoy myself and this team is incredibly fun to watch right now and has been for quite some time. If your reaction when watching this team is still negative then I am sure you won’t be interested in much I have to say.
Given though how far this team has come, we should be enjoying every minute of it and realise how fortunate we are to watch this current group. If we are to sustain this title challenge for the second half of the season, we have to get behind every player through the good times and the bad times because let me assure you it is not going to be all sunshine and rainbows the rest of the way. It’s just like Rocky Balboa said, we just got hit hard but we now need to move forward together.
“It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
― Rocky Balboa