How Should We Be Feeling About These Liverpool Results?

Liverpool Football Club are Premier League champions. It is the phrase that I’ve waited to hear since 1992 and I can’t get enough of it. When Sky Sports show the top-flight table and the name of Liverpool is coated in gold with a big ‘C’ next to it, I still smile. By the end of the season we’ll have seen the lads be given more guards of honour than any other club in the competition’s history, such is the extent to which we’ve been dominant over every team in England. Whichever way you look at it, we’ve been absolutely sensational during this title-winning campaign. It’s therefore quite tricky to figure out exactly how we should be feeling when the post-title results come rolling in. On the one hand, it’s difficult not to be a bit annoyed about the profligacy of the front three against Burnley, yet on the other we’ve been crowned champions. It’s hardly a surprise that the players don’t seem to playing with the same intensity when you bear that in mind.

Yet at the same time we all want them to be smashing points records, Mo Salah to win the Golden Boot and Alisson Becker to take home the Golden Glove. It’s equally as unsurprising that the results are being met with a sense of disappointment when they’re anything other than victories for the boys in Red. The Crystal Palace match is arguably the only one since the restart that was as good as we all wanted it to be. The results against Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion might have been solid, but there were still plenty of question marks around the performances. Yet when I feel disappointed I look at the table and that gold bar again and remember that I’m being quite spoilt in wanting Liverpool to never drop another point or perform at anything other than one hundred percent. The Court Of Arbitration For Sport’s decision to say that yes, Manchester City did cheat but that it was ages ago so doesn’t count doesn’t help in feeling more rosey right now.

This Is Like Pre-Season

Whilst we don’t yet know when the next Premier League season is likely to start, we do know that the period we’re currently in is almost certainly the equivalent of pre-season. It looks as though we’ll be faced with a four week official pre-season rather than the usual twelve weeks, so Jürgen Klopp and his backroom staff have to be thinking about getting the lads tweaked and primed for the beginning of the 2020-2021 campaign if they want to successfully defend their title. The combination of having finally secured the title with the fact that the backroom team won’t know quite how to be training the players right now might well help to explain why things just don’t seem to be quite working since the re-start. We know from last season that the Reds can play until the final whistle of the final game if they need to, with the simple reality being that they just don’t need to this time around. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t feel disappointing, though.

Liverpool’s pre-season results aren’t always great, with the side often losing or drawing against poorer opposition as the manager tries different things to see what he can get out of his team. We’ve seen that since football got back underway, with the likes of Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino and Curtis Jones all getting starts that they probably wouldn’t have if the league title was still on the line. The manager finds himself in an odd position of wanting to get the points on the board and yet also being acutely aware of the need to find out what his players can offer him moving forward. With that in mind, it would be odd to be overly upset at a 1-1 draw with Burnley in pre-season and yet feels really frustrating now. In some ways, it would probably be far more satisfying if we had won the title on seventy-nine points and had no chance of setting a record points total than it feels right now, where a championship winning season might feel underwhelming if we don’t do it.

Taking On Man City

There will doubtless be scores of you reading the previous sentence and wondering what on earth I’m talking about. How on earth can a title winning season be ‘underwhelming’? For the record, I agree. We could lose all three of our remaining games and it wouldn’t alter how proud I am of this Liverpool team. They’ve been phenomenal for two seasons in succession, or three if you include our Champions League final run the year before. Yet at the same time I will be disappointed for them if they don’t set a new points record, given how very much they deserve to do so. They should absolutely have their names in the record books for years to come and a points record would ensure that they do. It would also lay a marker down to Manchester City, informing Pep Guardiola’s men that we’re not going anywhere. The CAS decision means that the Cityzens will keep on spending, so we’ll have to be at the top of our game to keep competing with them.

It’s why these results feel so deflating in spite of the league title. We know that we have to take City on for years to come and so any sign of weakness, even in spite of how far ahead of them we are in the league table, feels like it opens the door to them and allows them to think they’ll be able to re-claim their crown next time out. They’ve earned more points than us since football re-started, but three of those came against us in a match that we could have been 3-0 up in before they scored and in the end we looked like a team that hadn’t had much sleep in the week prior to kick-off. They’ve had five wins and two losses, whilst we’ve had three wins, two draws and a loss. The poorer results feel like they hurt more because we’ve had a chance to put a warning shot across their bow and haven’t taken it. It’s ok to be annoyed by that and then to remember that we’re Premier League champions. Those two reactions aren’t mutually exclusive. Let’s just use that disappointment to go and win it again next time out….

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