A review of Liverpool this calendar year
“Where there is belief, there is faith in what you dream for. For Faith can move mountains and Anfield is our place of worship” – These words drive supporters and eccentric fans to Anfield week in and week out. Come here and you won’t find a seat empty. With knowledgeable supporters and vociferous fans, it’s hard to believe that the Reds from Merseyside are in transition.
Sitting in the lower half of the table for the most part of the season seems out of sorts for a club which never failed to dazzle in the eighties. Legends were born here, legends were made here but is this current Liverpool team lacking some much needed inspiration?
“To work hard and have our supporters behind us and believing until the end, you run a little bit more”, Rafa Benitez’s inspirational words set the stage for Liverpool to win the Champions League in 2005, which perhaps is the best game of the decade.
However, it’s been almost three years now that the Reds have featured in the Elite competition in Europe. Garnering five Champions League trophies, which is even better than Barca’s record and only next to Real Madrid and AC Milan, speaks volumes for itself.
I wouldn’t say that many of the Anfield faithful are getting a bit restless that their beloved club is not performing to their very best week in and week out. With little signs of consistency, surely last night’s victory over Fulham would calm some of the nerves settling in Merseyside. What’s more to cheer is Liverpool are now eighth in the table, five points off from that elusive Champions League spot.
So let us have a look on Liverpool’s performance this past year.
With Kenny Dalglish at the helm and spending huge in the Summer transfer window, it would surely have made any Liverpool supporter optimistic about the club making it to the Champions League in the 2011-12 season. The supporters had full faith in Dalglish, whom they affectionately call ‘King Kenny’, to make it to the UCL. But soon things got worse. Yes, Liverpool managed to beat both the Manchester teams en route to winning their first silverware in six years when they beat an inspirational Cardiff team in Wembley via a penalty shootout.
The FA cup also beckoned for the Reds and there were happy scenes around Melwood as the Anfield faithful were hoping to muster up a glorious domestic double. However long time rivals Chelsea stuck a thorn in Liverpool’s flesh when the Blues beat the Merseysiders by 2-1. The dream was over.
However by virtue of winning the League cup, the Reds booked their place in the Europa league, but it’s not the same stage as the Champions League where the elite teams of Europe fight for glory.
The year started off well for the Reds when they beat eventual champions of the EPL, Manchester City to reach the final of the Carling Cup. This was followed by a 5-1 smashing of Oldham Athletic and an impressive 3-0 win over Wolves. However they were at the wrong end of the scoreline against Bolton, losing 1-3, which Kenny branded as the worst game of the season.
The harsh eight match ban on Luis Suarez ended in February which saw the Uruguayan missing some very key clashes for his club. The 0-0 draw against Spurs marked his return and the 1-2 loss away to fierce rivals Manchester United marked Liverpool’s only two games that month.
Uncharacteristic losses to Arsenal at home and QPR away quelled Liverpool’s charge for a Champions league spot. However Steven Gerrard’s 400th appearance for the club brought back memories of the old Liverpool style of pass and move.
April and May saw little improvement from the Reds as they finished a disappointing eighth in the EPL.
“Another year gone by and no Champions League. When will we get back to where we belong” – this mood echoed in and around Melwood.
As the season drew to a close, Kenny Dalglish was summoned by the FSG because of disappointing finish in the league. It seemed as if they had fallen out with the King and he eventually left the club. This was followed by a series of sackings with the assistant manager taking up the managerial role at the Hawthorns.
With many contemplating who would be the next Liverpool manager and take up the hot seat, FSG, headed by principal owner John W Henry, announced that Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers had been handed the job to revive the Reds.
Following the appointment of the new manager, many supporters would have felt it was the biggest risk that the club had taken in many years.
In came a manager with a new philosophy, new footballing style and one who gets on with the media very well. One question certainly remained at the back of everyone’s head, ”Is it going to work?”
The question still rings today. The 15m pound acquisition of Joe Allen has been a waste of money in my opinion. Being labelled as the “Welsh Xavi” is a joke, for this young and little man from Swansea has rarely passed the ball forward, let alone scoring. A 12m buy of young Italian striker Borini hasn’t been that delightful as well, as he has been far from impressive before breaking his foot to be sidelined and spending a lengthy lay-off in the rehab centre. Nuri Sahin, the Turkish international on loan from Spanish Champions, Real Madrid hasn’t also set the stage on fire.
The only flash in Liverpool’s pan has been Luis Suarez who has mesmerised each and everyone with his sublime skills and finishing up front. He toils away tirelessly for the Reds’ cause and has been a fan favourite. His nutmegs are something you could make a film on and his dribbling skills are second to none. What remains to be seen is whether he can forge a formidable partnership with Steven Gerrard at the heart of Liverpool’s attack. The return of Lucas Leiva has brought stability. The Brazilian had been out with a serious injury but he is back and means business.
With 18 games gone and Liverpool sitting 8th in table with 5 points adrift of the Champions League spot, could the lovely weather in the Red half of Merseyside spark a glorious second half of the season?
Merry Christmas to all Liverpool players, manager, fans and everyone associated with the club, remember we are a family. Stay calm and believe in the players and the manager.
Surely with the new year imminent in a week’s time, the January transfer window couldn’t have come faster. One question remains though, ”Will it be a happy new year?”
As the famous Bill Shankly once said, “A lot of football success is in the mind. You must believe that you are the best and then make sure that you are. In my time at Liverpool we always said we had the best two teams in Merseyside, Liverpool and Liverpool reserves.”
Afterall who can forget this, “It’s there to remind our lads who they’re playing for, and to remind the opposition who they’re playing against.” - Bill Shankly about the ‘This is Anfield’ plaque.
“Liverpool players must play like a lion, give their all. There must be determination, commitment and resolve to be a Liverpool player.”
Hard times are just a beginning for a glorious future. Keep the faith and move on everyone, YOU WILL NEVER WALK ALONE (YNWA).