The Importance Of The Chelsea Match Cannot Be Overstated

It is somewhat of an odd time to be a Liverpool fan right now. The Reds aren’t playing well, which has led to all of the cranks and weirdos to come out of the woodwork. We will doubtless all have seen tweets from idiots that have no idea about the culture of the football club, saying that they want to process against Fenway Sports Group, all from the comfort of their mum’s basement. I have long been on record as saying that there is no such thing as a ‘locals versus out of towners’ debate at Liverpool. Instead, there is just those that understand the club and those that don’t. Sufficed to say, organising a protest against owners that have been perfectly good custodians of the club doesn’t fit into that culture very well. As Mari Lewis pointed out on Twitter, some of them had the cheek to use photos of protests that were held against Tom Hicks and George Gillett, actual terrible owners who took the club to the brink of administration and threatened the very existence of it; the exact opposite of what FSG have done as owners.

I doubt there is a Liverpool supporter alive that doesn’t wish that they would be a little less spendthrift every now and again. I certainly do. The idea that we don’t need reinforcements in the midfield department right now is laughable. Yet I definitely appreciate that they’ve been sensible when it comes to the finances and you only need to look at the likes of Barcelona to see just how quickly things can unravel if you operate as though you have unlimited resources. There are only a few clubs that are actually in that position and I’d rather John Henry and his business partners remained in charge for the rest of time than we got taken over by a murderous regime hoping to sports wash its reputation. Morals matter more than medals. FSG can be better, but we also need to be aware of the fact that owners can be significantly worse. I know, because I’ve seen it. No one would claim they’ve been perfect owners, probably not even Henry himself, but they’ve been very, very good and the bed wetters will never appreciate that.

Has Jürgen Learnt From His Mistakes?

I am on record as believing that Jürgen Klopp is the best manager in the world. Whilst Pep Guardiola’s trophy haul shows that he’s incredibly good at what he does, he requires vast sums of money to be spent in order to allow him to do it. We shouldn’t forget that he has spent more than a billion pounds at Manchester City, yet they still look remarkably vulnerable this season. Our manager, meanwhile, has achieved what he’s achieved with a net spend of around the same total as City spent on Jack Grealish. This, then, isn’t me suggesting that Klopp is anything other than a phenomenal manager who knows more about football than I will ever know. That being said, even the very best make mistakes. Jürgen himself would point to numerous occasions when he’s got it wrong, were I ever lucky enough to talk to him about his managerial career. This season, that has seen him ask players to carry out tactics that they’re either too old, too exhausted or both to manage. In spite of seeing the evidence of that, he’s not altered his way of playing at all.

When we went up against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup replay, he finally seemed to acknowledge his mistakes. The selection of Naby Keïta, after months of effectively leaving him in the cold, was a sign that maybe he’s realised that energy in the middle of the park is vital. Add into that the manner in which Stefan Bajčetić played and you could see the dynamism that Liverpool’s midfield has been lacking so much in the campaign so far. The question is, will he accept that we were better and make some different selections against Chelsea, or will he revert to type? The manager is the sort of person that demonstrates overwhelming trust in his players. It is how he gets them to perform in the manner that they do for him. Even so, that trust sometimes leads to him ignoring what everyone else can see play out in front of them. As much as I love all of them, if I see the names of Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho Tavares on the team sheet for the Chelsea match, I have to admit that my heart will sink a little bit, knowing how it is likely to to play out.

Improvements Are Vital To Rescue Our Season

This campaign is hanging by a thread. I’ve read articles from people that I respect suggesting that missing out on the Champions League wouldn’t be the worst thing to ever happen to Liverpool. The logic is sound, but I’m not convinced that doing so would lead to the reset that they think it will. Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup fifth round is not a match that I’m looking forward to. It is a chance to prove that we’ve learnt our lesson from what happened at the AMEX last week, but it is also an opportunity for them to dump us out of the competition and reassert the idea that we are a spent force right now. Whilst we’d all love to gain some semblance of revenge against Real Madrid after the Champions League final, the reality is that they seem to have a hex on us and I can’t see us succeeding there if things don’t improve dramatically. So it is that I find myself believing that a top four finish is about the best that we can hope for this campaign, but even that is looking far from a done deal if we’re all honest about it.

Though I’m not convinced that Jude Bellingham will be so short sighted as to refuse to come to Liverpool if we don’t make it into the Champions League places, I do think a vital part of his decision will be around whether or not Jürgen Klopp will be able to take is game onto the next level. I think his faith that he will is why we continue to be linked to him, but I also think the manager needs to remind everyone of his ability to coach players to become significantly better. I fear that us failing to prove that we’re still a form of the team that pushed Manchester City so close over so many years will mean that Bellingham, as well as other top stars, will choose to look elsewhere. We need to show that we haven’t fallen off a cliff in an irredeemable manner, which a convincing win over Chelsea will allow us to do. It will also show that Todd Boehly’s mad spending isn’t always a guaranteed way of winning. Lose, though, and the voices of those weirdos will grow louder. It is, I think, a massive game for the Reds this weekend.

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