Premier League: It is time for Liverpool fans to let go of their fears
As the season is drawing near to its start, I as a Liverpool fan have a growing sense of fear that we may fall short of competing. That we may lose too many games, players, and be back to fighting for the top four and go trophy-less.
Like seasons past, I feel as though we will continue the one step forward, two steps backward process. But I also realize that this is a form of conditioning every Liverpool fan has grown accustomed to because of the past three decades.
If a season goes well, a bad one is around the corner. And as irrational as this fear is, it persists.
This anxiety is perpetuated by the lack of activity in the transfer market. Every other top team seems to have strengthened and we haven’t. My biggest fear for the coming year is the repercussions of a possible injury to Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah or Andrew Robertson.
But I know I am being irrational.
What I, like most of us, are failing to see is that Manchester City have only added Rodri and Tottenham have added Tanguy Ndombele. And that’s it. One top-level player each.
This is a clear indication that these teams recognize the superiority of their own squads and don’t require too many other players. It’s the same for us. But we continue to be scared.
My anxiety stems from a possible injury and lack of reserve players for the forward areas and the left-back position. This fear is further accentuated when I look at City and their crop of world-class substitutes.
No matter what I tell myself, the reality is that competing against them and winning something this season is going to be an extremely difficult task. But I have to continually remind myself that all's not lost.
We did it last year. We almost did it a year before that, and that too with a thinner squad than the one we possess now. We can definitely do it again.
As far as the injury issue is concerned, an important question quickly jumps up in my mind: When was the last time Mane and Salah were injured? And what about Robbo?
My fear subsides quickly when I hear the voice inside my head answering: Not too often and more importantly, never for too long.
These boys are as fit as a fiddle and due credit must be given to the sports science department and the coaching staff for taking great care of the players.
But suddenly the fear returns. I hear a scream inside, "Just because there’s been no injury yet, doesn’t mean it won’t happen now."
While that line of reasoning is true and valid, the past two years provide data that runs contrary to my fears. And there’s undoubtedly a possibility that nothing major will happen this season either.
But on the off chance that it does happen, and we’re left without important players, then what? Are we covered in crucial areas, and during crucial times of the season? I think we are. We did beat the mighty Barcelona side without Firmino and Salah. Thank the Gods for Divock Origi and his three shots on target.
My mind rushes to the architect of the destruction of Mourinho's dream career at Manchester United. We have Xherdan Shaqiri who stood up when required. And he’s still here.
Two seasons ago, we came fourth in the league without Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Robertson, and with James Milner playing at left-back. There’s no chance all of them end up injured at the same time. Which means that we’ll be fine.
Add to that the fact that we went through the entirety of last season without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana. Last season Naby Keita was still learning the language, his role and dealing with his injury woes. And when the lad did find form, he got injured. So that’s virtually three new quality players that are added to the team.
If your first XI has Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum in midfield then your subs bench has Ox, Lallana, Keita and Milner. If that isn’t great, I don’t know what is.
Defensively we're more sound than ever. Four center-backs, two right-backs, two quality goalkeepers, with one left back and James Milner. That's fantastic.
This line of thought is certainly helping me relax and then I recall that apart from these top quality players we have a 22-year-old championship veteran waiting for his opportunity in Harry Wilson. There’s also an 18-year-old former Rangers loanee in Ryan Kent and another 18-year-old goal scorer in Rhian Brewster.
I am beginning to feel like we're fine. I shouldn’t let my paranoia get me down this summer. So shouldn’t yours. And by the way, most importantly, we have Jurgen Klopp - possibly the smartest manager in the world.
Klopp doesn't listen to the humdrum outside and follows what he knows. And he knows that we're good enough. Rationality is his greatest strength.
Sure, he's emotional on the pitch. But outside it he is a man who's in complete control, and with immense self-belief.
He asked us to believe. We did. Now, it's time to stay.
Let me reiterate a few important points:
1) We're Champions League winners.
2) We finished with 97 points.
3) We kept the most clean sheets in the league last season.
4) We lost one league game all season.
5) Did I mention that we won the Champions League?
We did all of these things with the same group of players. We’ll be fine.