Ethan Golding talks why Liverpool Football Club’s start to the 2017/18 Premier League season was disappointing but hardly surprising.
So much of what makes football enjoyable is the unpredictability. Huddersfield not only making it to the Premier League this year but leading Crystal Palace 2-0 after 26 minutes and ultimately winning 3-0, Burnley leading 3-0 against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal not just winning on the opening day but coming from behind to do so. Exciting stuff.
The expectation of winning every weekend combined with the anxiety that in this league there are no guarantees makes for exciting football games week in and week out. It’s all a part of the narrative of English football. Liverpool Football Club is a microcosm of the entire league.
But Liverpool are not exciting. I am not talking about the football we play you see. The football we play is designed to be exciting. Front footed, fast, intense, goals galore – it all spells excitement. What’s not exciting is seeing Liverpool concede from another corner 8 minutes into a game.
What’s not exciting is seeing two big professional centre backs getting out muscled, rolled and bullied. When football gets predictable it stops being fun and when you see James Milner replacing Mo Salah on 86 minutes only 6 minutes after Divock Origi replaced Firmino, nobody was surprised when 3 points turned to 1.
Insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Don’t get me wrong I have a lot of respect for James Milner and I think Divock Origi has all the attributes to make it at a top club but they aren’t exactly the players you look at to lock things down.
Liverpool’s defensive woes are not only clear to us as fans but they’re clear to everybody else and yet they do not seem to be clear to the team themselves.
Credit should be given to the team for a much improved 2nd half… for the most part, but if you’re a team that defends from the front and are notoriously loose at the back, why not just turn into the skid for the last 10 minutes?
Long term, this is clearly not what needs to be done but if you’re going to do something predictable at least do something that gets the result.
The moment Firmino left the pitch, an already overly pragmatic side lost one of its only sources of flair and ingenuity. When Salah left the pitch the points were already dropped.
It is this sort of inevitability that is frustrating.
Last week I wrote about three things that should make us excited about the season and I maintain that there are many other things besides the three I spoke about that should have us excited.
Despite some glaring holes and growing transfer tension, we are looking at our strongest squad since Benitez’ runners-up side. The starting XI may be weaker but as a squad, it may even be stronger.
We are being managed by a man that is truly passionate about what he does and cares about delivering on the expectations of the fans. He knows that no one person is bigger than the club and is trying to do his part while he is here.
Jürgen Klopp is not without his flaws, his in game management is often questionable and his substitutions at times are uninspired, but on the flip side of that, he has beaten top sides across Europe on multiple occasions and has built teams from the ground up capable of delivering the most electrifying brand of football anyone is liable to see.
This summer is high stakes and the Premier League more than ever seems to be a powder keg and so we have to strap in and expect ups and downs. But it is not just fans who have to simply accept certain things and act in a certain way, it is time that FSG accept that they own a top level football club and they have to begin to act in this way.
I have never been on the side of FSG out. I fully support their ideology of breathing the next generation of stars and not just spending mountains of cash to bring in a 28-year-old for two seasons, but they have to play the game.
There have been too many media headaches and PR fumbles since their time in charge for them to expect fans to stand by them. For every Luis Suarez brought in under the radar, there has been an Eriksen signed by Spurs. This summer is coming to a close quickly and fans are worried. It is FSG’s responsibility as owners of Liverpool Football Club to ease these fears.
Jamie Carragher said that “if Coutinho leaves there will be riot” and it’s hard to argue against this opinion, especially when they are coming from a man who understands better than anybody what the expectations of Liverpool fans are.
There won’t be riots because Philippe Coutinho is the best player in the world and we a letting him go for an unfair price; it is the opposite in fact. Had this offer come in at the very start of the window there would be no objections from fans. The Brazilian is at least a full season away from Barcelona standards and would be bringing in an entire season’s budget worth of cash to be reinvested, sound business had it been done July 1st.
The problem is that there is not enough time to find a replacement and integrate them, regardless of how much money there is at FSG’s disposal (disposal of their money is one of their biggest problems). FSG have not given Liverpool fans enough reason to support them in a situation like this.
Keeping Coutinho, signing Van Dijk and adding another one or two other players capable of pushing for a starting place would give fans a reason to stand by FSG if another situation like this should arise in the future, but at the moment FSG should expect nothing from Liverpool fans other than gnarled finger nails and resentment.
FSG need to take charge in the remaining weeks of this window and spend money in a way that fits their model but is also based in the reality of the world they are are operating in.
Like I said, this season is a powder keg and it’s time FSG stopped playing with the matches like children and put them in the cupboard like adults.