Whatever Happens, This Team Deserves Respect

It’s so easy to get caught up in the world of thinking no trophy this year would somehow represent a failure for Liverpool Football Club. As soon as the team begins to progress in the biggest competitions and success feels as though it’s within our grasp, it’s inevitable that not winning one of them will feel as though something has somehow gone wrong. I’ve already had people tell me that the draw with Leicester City at home is the moment we ‘lost the league’, just as others have pointed to draws with West Ham United, Manchester United and Everton as games that prove we’ve ‘bottled it’ in our pursuit of our first league title for nearly thirty years. It’s all nonsense, of course. If you want to look to something that explains why we may not lift the Premier League trophy then I’d suggest that Mancunian referee Anthony Taylor’s decision not to send Vincent Company off for a disgraceful challenge in the game against Manchester City at the Etihad is perhaps the most crucial moment of the campaign.

It’s easy to get caught up in the feeling of failure if a team doesn’t win a trophy for the simply reason that we are all obsessed only with our own team. Mauricio Pochettino has done a stunning job with Tottenham this season, not only almost certainly seeing them finish in the top four but also getting them to at least the semi-final stage of the Champions League. All of that without strengthening his squad in the summer and having to cope with playing the team’s home games at both Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. If Spurs don’t win the Champions League it would be far too simplistic to suggest that he’s failed as a manager, bearing in mind that Manchester City are likely to win at least two of the four available and possible three. Likewise, anyone who understands football knows that Jürgen Klopp has done an incredible job this season and is deserving of praise regardless of what happens from here.

Manchester City Are An Incredible Football Team

We can and will debate the financial undertakings of Manchester City for years to come. Their supporters might like to claim that ‘Financial Fair Play is a flawed system’, but that only serves to demonstrate that they don’t really understand exactly what the club has been up to for the past several years. That UEFA, FIFA and the Premier League are all investigating their misdoings is suggestion enough that they haven’t exactly been as above board as their supporters might like to think. Yet by the same token that doesn’t take away from just how good a football club they are. They broke the points record for a Premier League season last year, breaking the one hundred point barrier for the first time. It’s likely that they’ll end this campaign just two points shy of that.

Think about that for a second. Whatever happens in the closing weeks of the campaign, they have put themselves in position to get more points than any Premier League winning team has ever managed for two years running. We’re all right to be angered at the manner in which they’ve circumnavigated the laws and rules in order to amass such a ludicrously expensive football team, but that doesn’t take away from what they’ve done on the pitch. They have still needed to go out and beat the teams placed in front of them and whilst they’ve unquestionably had more fortune from the referees than Liverpool have during the season, they’ve still achieved something quite remarkable. Losing out to them in the Premier League is nothing to be ashamed of.

But Liverpool Are Doing Something Remarkable

I don’t want you to read any of that and think that I’ve already thrown in the towel, though. With tough games to come away to Burnley and at home to Leicester City, to say nothing of a final day matchup with a Brighton side that is likely to need anything at all in order to stay up, the race is far from run. Indeed, this Liverpool team has been able to go toe-to-toe with the most expensively assembled side the top-flight of English football has ever seen, which is truly astonishing when you think about it. Opposition supporters will point to the money spent on the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker as some sort of sign that it’s the bear minimum that should be expected, but don’t believe it for a second.

That we have come up against an immovable object with the wealth of a nation behind it in the Premier League does not diminish the achievements of Jürgen Klopp, his backroom team and his players. Should we be defeated by Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League or either Ajax or Tottenham Hotspur in the final, the same is true. We have been an incredible football team across the duration of the campaign and have matched City almost blow for blow since the turn of last year. That suggests to me that this Liverpool team isn’t going anywhere any time soon. It is filled with players that are just about to hit their prime, so the likelihood that it will simply disappear into the ether if it doesn’t win a trophy is nonsense, in my opinion. Whatever happens in the remainder of this season, the Reds are very much on the march.

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  1. April 25, 2019

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