Why Do Some People Always Need A Scapegoat?

Liverpool might not finish in the top four. It is a reality that we all have to face up to. The fixtures of both Manchester United and Newcastle United are such that the two teams are rightly expected to get enough points to allow them to cement their place in next season’s Champions League. It is also not out of the realms of the possible that we drop points to Unai Emery’s Aston Villa side next weekend, given the manner in which Emery sides have caused us problems in the past. It is also worth acknowledging that winning nine games on the bounce is really hard. There are only four teams in Europe’s big five leagues that are on longer winning runs than the one that Liverpool are currently managing, whilst last night’s win means we’ve equalled the second-longest winning run of any team in the Premier League this season. Given how poor we’ve been at times, that shows just how difficult it is to do it and how good we are when we’re on form.

Even if we don’t manage to get into the Champions League, though, I think the run that we’ve been on could be crucial for next season. Manchester City’s juggernaut will continue to rumble on, in spite of the 115 charges hanging over Pep Guardiola’s side. Manchester United, Newcastle and Arsenal are likely to improve in the summer, whilst the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino at Chelsea will mean that they start to threaten again. None of the teams are likely to be able to keep up with us and City if we do what we’ve done in the previous 90+ campaigns, but hitting the ground running could be crucial in terms of being able to stop the United Arab Emirates funded City side from continuing to dominate. Can Liverpool win the title next season if we end up playing in the Europa League? There is certainly evidence to suggest it might be too difficult, but if we win our last nine games of the campaign then we’ll be starting the next one in the right frame of mind to do it.

Curtis Jones Is Proving Doubters Wrong

Curtis Jones is a brilliant young footballer. Part of the disappointment felt by some people at times over the past 12 months or so is based on the fact that he burst through with such promise. He was an exciting attacking player when he first made his name, scoring goals for fun in the youth teams. Much as Trent Alexander-Arnold wasn’t a defender but was converted to the position in order to break into the Liverpool first team, so too was Jones not a midfielder but became one because that’s what the Reds needed the most at the time. Fitness issues and bizarre injuries prevented him from getting any sort of run in the side, which was enough for many to decide that he just wasn’t good enough. The problem with football supporters, but Liverpool fans in particular, is that once they have made up their minds about a player it is all but impossible for the player to ‘prove’ that they’re good enough. Jones is good enough and he’s starting to prove it.

This is the longest run in the starting eleven that he’s had during his Liverpool career. In the 2020-2021 campaign he had two runs of eight games in succession, but most of the appearances were as a substitute. It is not a coincidence that Jones has started every game when Liverpool have seen an upturn in form. He is excellent within the system that the manager is looking to play and too many people remain determined to throw bizarre criticisms his way. After tweeting about how well he played last night, I was informed that he was ‘piss poor all season’, in spite of the fact that he played a total of 189 minutes prior to his recent run in the side, with only one start. That is also ignoring the fact that the rest of the team was a dumpster fire, so it’s hardly surprising that Jones wasn’t setting the world alight. Unfortunately, just as with Jordan Henderson before him, Curtis is going to have to get used to people forming opinions and refusing to change them, irrespective of the evidence in front of them.

Not Everyone Needs To Be Steven Gerrard

For some reason, there is a vast swathe of Liverpool supporters who love having a scapegoat. Darwin Núñez was written off after his first performance. Cody Gakpo was dismissed before he’d even had a chance to unpack his boxes. Jordon Henderson has won almost every trophy that there is to win as Liverpool captain and there remains a large chunk of the supporter base that refuses to give him any credit. It is a bizarre attitude that I will never understand. It is as though a player has to be Steven Gerrard or they aren’t good enough. In Manchester United’s list of Premier League title winning players there are names like Nicky Butt, Phil Neville, Denis Irwin and Wes Brown. None of them are anything other than mediocre, yet all of them have more titles to their name than a lot of football clubs. As Bill Shankly once said, football is like a piano: you need eight men to carry it and three to play the damn thing. Not everyone needs to be playing the piano all of the time.

Curtis Jones is just 22-years-old. Central midfielders aren’t expected to hit their peak until they’re 25, whilst for central attacking midfielders it’s 26. In other words, he is still incredibly young for the position that he’s playing, which doesn’t even take into account the fact that he’s not has as much first-team playing time as others. Will he go on to be Liverpool’s greatest ever midfielder? It is unlikely. Does that matter? Definitely not. Steven Gerrard was a generational talent and yet his trophy cabinet doesn’t have as much silverware as Henderson’s. Playing the piano leads to success, but carrying it is just as important. There are a lot of weirdos out there that are more obsessed with their initial opinion being proven to be ‘right’ than they are with seeing Liverpool enjoy success. Personally, I love it when a negative opinion I’ve formed about someone is proven to be wrong because it means the Reds are doing well. Bring me more piano carriers, they’re what makes a team a successful one.

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