Football has been sanitised for two years. Anfield’s heavy metal football soundtrack was ripped away. The Kop went from a roaring amphitheatre to a stripped-back acoustic. A clear advantage was lost. Covid-19 alienated us from our tribe. We only had an internet connection to the beautiful game. Without their normal fan-based fuel, and with problems in the engine room, Liverpool lurched off the perch they had finally climbed up.
Liverpool’s full metal jacket
The new season will be a chance to see what Liverpool can create with conditions more in their favour on and off the pitch. March 2019 seems a long long time ago now. It was a period where the invincibility cloak was wearing off just a bit. The loss column had started to fill in ever so slightly before Covid came along.
There was the Watford reckoning. Atletico Madrid came and conquered the day before football shut down. That 3-2 defeat was perhaps one of the last Klopp heavy metal performances seen since Zeljko Buvac left. Liverpool threw everything but the kitchen sink at their opponents that night. They were a force ten whirlwind that blew themselves out.
Liverpool changed from knockout to TKO
Since those basketball games a few years back, the increasing influence of Pep Lijnders has been clear. Liverpool have not short-circuited in those power surge moments. Thrilling as they were at the time, 3-3s and 4-3s were not good for title-winning. Or the heart.
Liverpool won the Premier League by winning 32 out of 38 matches. There were numerous single goal victories. That team picked their moments for a TKO rather than a knockout blow.
The Reds played soft rock last season
Last season, Liverpool lost nine games in the Premier League. It was stomach-churning at times. In 2018/19 and 2019/20, fans were getting used to a team that simply did not lose. Of course, that kind of run wasn’t sustainable. Anfield’s cauldron was less magical without key personnel or packed stands. Liverpool lost their identity. This was soft rock -possession without direction – and it wasn’t good.
The rearming of Anfield will be key to success. Klopp’s first aim when he took the job in 2015 was to activate the fans. He will do so again. Liverpool were also-rans in 2020/21 and they didn’t like it one little bit. Moreover, their rolling maul style approach has been shunted into touch for too long.
Klopp said after the title win in 2020: “The consistency comes from the mix of determination, buying into the idea, character, attitude and personality that makes this group special.” That is it. That is what makes the whole cake. If Liverpool can raise the pace again with controlled but sustained bursts of aggression then the rhythm section will return. After all, they are not an Arsene Wenger orchestra…