Michael Baddeley argues that even without winning any silverware this season, Liverpool could still end the campaign on a positive note by securing a top four finish again.
Many people marked this season as the one where Jurgen Klopp’s mighty Reds would push on and start challenging for trophies. As it stands, that hasn’t happened and many people have voiced their discontent about this with some claiming we’ve taken a backwards step and labeled the season a failure already.
But in my opinion, we’ve actually improved, progressed as a team and taken another step forward despite not winning any silverware.
Tactically, the lads have come on in leaps and bounds. The heavy metal football we saw all last season looks as good as it has ever been and instead of only being able to do it in a basic 4-3-3, we’ve learned to adapt to different formations and seen more fluency in our play.
Since the embarrassment we saw down at Wembley, Klopp has had the lads switching between three or four different formations. Predominantly, we’ve gone with the 4-3-3, but we’ve seen them switching between 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1 & 4-2-3-1. We even played a 3-4-3 against relegation strugglers Brighton away from home and looked comfortable.
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Since the tactical changes, we’ve played 22 games, won 14, drawn six, lost two and gone on an 18 game unbeaten run. Impressive, huh?
During that run, we played numerous teams who defended with a low block and tried to stop us from playing. As you all know, in the past that’s something that has been our stumbling block.
Teams knew that if they packed out the middle of the park, were defensively sound and kept the scoreline level or within touching distance, then Liverpool would eventually run out of ideas and they would then be able to capitalise on our shaky defence and knick a result.
Alright, that happened against Chelsea, Everton (in the league), West Brom and Swansea. But look at how many times teams did ‘park the bus’ and we still come away with a win.
We stole a late, late winner away to Burnley, wore Stoke down and put the game out of sight late on, finally broke Leicester’s resilience to grab a 2-1 win and we even beat Everton with a late Virgil van Dijk header in the cup.
As a team, we are improving tactically all the time and as a result, we are finally learning how to beat these so-called lesser sides who come to spoil the game.
Moving on to the trophies side of things. It is a massive disappointment to not be pushing on and challenging for silverware. We might still be in the Champions League and have a very good chance at progressing to the quarter-finals of the tournament, but getting knocked out the Carabao Cup and FA cup in the earlier rounds was very frustrating.
In fact, the early exits from both cups are the most disappointing things about this season so far.
As I said at the start of this article, many highlighted this as the season that we pushed on and started to win silverware. Many also claimed the only way this season would be seen as a success was if we won trophies.
We’re all entitled to our own opinions and I respect that. It is a fair claim to suggest that the only way we’d have a successful season was to finish in the top four and then add a trophy to that, but I disagree. In my opinion, just re-qualifying for the Champions League would be a success.
It may seem like a small club mentality thing to say and it might be just that, but Liverpool fans have wanted to be back amongst Europe’s elite on a consistent basis for a number of years. Now we’re finally back there for the first time in eight years, would you really want to jeopardise our place in next year’s competition by prioritising winning a domestic competition?
I’d love for us to be able to compete for top four and then win trophies at the same time, but let’s be real here, that simply cannot happen with our current squad. We have a very small squad, to go all the way in these trophies would require us to rest players on a regular basis and we simply cannot do such a thing if we want to get top four.
In my opinion, Liverpool getting top four this season would be a success. I’d much prefer to see the Reds establish themselves amongst Europe’s elite and prove that we weren’t just a one season success than winning trophies and then ending up in the Europa League.
Controversial I know, but being in the Champions League is more important. It will bring more money into the club and also give us the opportunity of luring the best talent across the world to the club. If we can prove that we weren’t just a one season wonder players will take us seriously.
Add consistent European football to Jurgen Klopp’s pull and you have a recipe for greatness.
Once we are established, then we can push on and start challenging for trophies. We’ll have more outstanding players and a bigger squad. I’d love for us to win trophies this season, but for me, getting top four and into the later stages of the Champions League this season would be a success.
Fans may not like it, but this is only Klopp’s second full season, we can’t just expect trophies straight away. After a long spell away from trophies I get the hunger and desperation to win something, but we were always going to be a long-term project for any manager and we’ve come along way since Klopp took over.
The trophies will come in due course, but we need to be patient.