Let me be absolutely clear about something from the get-go: I’m delighted with Liverpool Football Club’s performance last season. Winning the European Cup alone would be enough for me to be in a celebratory mood, never mind the ninety-seven points added to that in the Premier League. The combination was essentially the same as winning the double, only we didn’t win the double because the behemoth that is Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City rumbled on. Watching Jordan Henderson hoist the Champions League trophy above his head was a moment of immense pride for me, having been one of the captain’s fiercest advocates for some time. I have zero problem admitting that I was cock-a-hoop, over the moon, ecstatic with delight. This is truly one of the best Liverpool teams ever assembled and anyone who says otherwise simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
The best coaching staff in the world #LFC 🔴 pic.twitter.com/KfUpXkRBGh
— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) July 10, 2019
Not one iota of my issues surrounding the squad at present is anything to do with me being disappointed or let down by a perceived lack of ambition from the powers that be. I very much trust Jürgen Klopp and I have complete faith in Michael Edwards and his team. Yet I also can’t help but think on the fact that even the very best managers make mistakes every now and again. Edwards’ hit rate has been so impressive that at some point it’s not out of the question that he might get something wrong in his decision making. I, like all of you reading this, want nothing but the best for the football club moving forward. We might well point towards the vast riches of Manchester City and the influence of the country propping the club up, with it looking extremely unlikely that FIFA, UEFA, the Football Association or the Premier League are going to do anything about it, we have to acknowledge that we’re fighting on an unfair playing field.
I Don’t Think I’m Negative, But You Might
Over the past couple of weeks I have written three pieces assessing the Liverpool squad from front to back and one looking at the reasoning and sense behind offering James Milner a new contract. I have been informed by countless people that I have taken far too negative an outlook on the state of the club at present. Perhaps that’s right. I often think of myself as a positive person when it comes to the football, but my wife regularly tells me that I have a habit of looking at the worst side of life. I don’t intend to be negative, though I readily admit that sometimes I prepare myself for the worst outcome, perhaps in order to protect myself from it happening. That being said, I didn’t spend last season thinking anything other than the fact that Liverpool were faint to win the Premier League. I’d probably refer to myself as a realist, but then someone else would doubtless say that that’s simply a negative mindset by another name.
Imagine Liverpool extending Mellor, Pongolle and Smicer after Istanbul.
— Joseph Cousins (@JCuzzy1) July 10, 2019
As we head into next season, we’re going up against a Manchester City side that has just won the domestic treble and will have strengthened again by the time this summer is over. Does that mean that they will achieve the same thing again? Of course not, but there’s no guarantee that we will either. As things currently stand, it looks as if the club has no plans to improve on the playing squad. Personally I have my suspicions that that might just be something of a smokescreen, especially considering the aforementioned success of Michael Edwards and his team means that every club in the world will be watching the Reds to see what moves we’re going to make next. But if it’s not some elaborate scheme, if we’re really happy with the squad as it is and think that Divock Origi is suddenly going to become a player that suits our style of play simply on the back of signing a new contract, does the European Cup alone mean I’m not allowed to be mildly sceptical?
We Might Improve, But We Might Regress
Those that like to look on the bright side simply point to our ninety-seven point haul in the Premier League and our victory in the Champions League and declare that there’s nothing to be worried about. Obviously I desperately hope that they’re right. It’s far better for the club if their positivity is the correct way of thinking and my apparent negativity ends up being entirely misplaced, and what’s best for the club is literally all I’m interested in. Yet their confidence is borne out of the notion that our squad will only improve and that none of our players will regress. Forget the fact that fitness, form and fortune are all things that are impossible to predict or do anything to ensure. They’re just convinced that everyone in the squad will play at the same level at a minimum, despite no apparent competition for their places. In the environment of being the defending European Champions, any question mark about the squad is met by a chorus of boos and shouts of ‘negativity’.
Muted a number of THOSE fans who will find anything to be negative about, simply never allowing themselves to be happy.
It could be a more satisfying moment than Liverpool winning the Champions League.
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) July 10, 2019
It feels as if any slight doubts about our ability to replicate last season means you’re not being a cheerleader, you’re not trusting the manager and his team. You have to declare that everything is awesome, else you’ll be shouted down or dismissed by fellow Liverpool supporters. Is it really impossible to have complete faith in Jürgen Klopp and his backroom staff and think that the squad can be improved? Can we not, perhaps, have different opinions on the state of the football club right now but also be really happy and want the best for the side that we support? I’m not suggesting for one second that everyone should be feeling negative, in fact I envy those that see nothing but sunbeams and lollipops when they think of the team and the squad. All I’m saying is that those of that don’t wish to declare everything as awesome aren’t shouted down when we voice that opinion. All being well you’ll be proven right and us wrong, but right now we’ve got reason to be wary if nothing else.