Welcome to Issue 271 of Red All Over The Land.
It’s hard to know where to start. I doubt anyone could have foreseen what has happened – or is happening – on the pitch with our team. At the very outset I viewed this season as one that wouldn’t feel right and that, to me, was emphasised when those ‘odd’ results started to happen early on. Not just to Liverpool but Manchester City lost a home game 5-2, Manchester United conceded six at home and we let in seven away. There was talk around November that the season was building up to being the most exciting of the Premier era as teams like Southampton, Everton, Tottenham and Leicester had taken turns to top the table. I’m sure supporters of these teams would have been getting excited in their living rooms. The question was raised about whether empty stadiums was having an effect and maybe that was the case, who really knows? Only the ‘Most of exciting seasons’ isn’t quite so exciting now is it? We probably know where the title will go and at least two of the relegation spots look to have been determined already. It’s now all about the scramble for the top four or The Europa places.
So, what about us? A team of Liverpool’s calibre shouldn’t be losing six home games on the bounce. Two would have raised eyebrows. Without being disrespectful shouldn’t we have had enough to beat the likes of Burnley, Brighton or Fulham? Even Everton [ouch] and, maybe, Chelsea? Finishing in the top four will take a massive upturn in form and even then, we’d be relying on others falling away. That’s after winning at Wolves.
There are, of course, mitigating circumstances that have contributed. The injuries we faced isn’t an excuse, it’s fact. Hindsight isn’t telling us we should have reacted to the defensive crisis faster; it’s screaming! Maybe the club as a collective could, and should, have dealt with it better. Only in truth, the defensive situation is, in my mind, only part of the problem.
Our forwards, and some midfielders lost form but despite Diogo Jota being on the long term injury list Minamino was let go out on loan, That left us with Divock Origi who hardly inspires confidence despite his history. Of the two players we signed at the last minute Ozan Kabak didn’t have the best of starts while Ben Davies hasn’t set foot on the pitch. Gini Wijnaldum’s contract is still an issue but we never find out what the real problem is, or was, until the player leaves or signs a new deal. I’m not suggesting Jürgen is responsible, nor FSG, or Michael Edwards because as I’ve said previously the criticism, as with the adulation, is a collective thing. The players included.
Yet, we’ve progressed through to the Champions League last eight and, despite the stupidity of the locations, with a degree of comfort. However, over the past few years many have said ‘Nobody will want to draw Liverpool’ but this time around will they still be thinking that? We shall see.
We’ve gone through several sad times of late. Following on from Gérard Houllier and Gerry Marsden we now have to remember Ian St. John and, of course, Phil Chisnall [never a real first team player but one who should be remembered]. These are hard to take and we don’t forget the family losses of both Jürgen and Alisson Becker. Such happenings put football into a different perspective.
JJP: A puzzling question I heard the other day. “Does Dolly Parton sleep on her front”?