Sunday, 18 March 2018
Monday, 23 October 2017
Pain motivates. It's primary existence as a physical function is so that if you were to put your hand under a flame, there would be a message sent to your brain pretty fucking sharpish saying "don't do that." Liverpool Football Club knows pain. The problem lies within how it's registered.
First of all, there's the reaction. The idea that any problem we have right now is *the worst*. We're all guilty. Right now I don't see how you can't This Liverpool side might be the most infuriating in terms of the discrepancy between attack and defence, between what it does well and how it fails. But that in of itself is a problem. Because if every time you face something, it becomes the biggest obstacle anyone could ever face, then the tasks not only become ever daunting but your likelihood of overcoming them grow ever shorter. Firefighting all the time makes it easy to get used to the idea that things should be on fire. Whisper it quietly, but they shouldn't.
After that come the brakes. The supposed voice of reason. What happens when you're panicking every time something happens that's not the way you planned is that the idea that there could be something wrong in the first place gets lost in a wave of fickle ideas. No football manager or team is wrong all the time and so if you're accusing them of such then when it comes time to question their methods it's already been diluted.
What's worse, the natural predication of fandom is to stick up for those who are being seen to be unnecessarily challenged. That in turn develops a defence mechanism that does not prepare for valid points. We all draw our lines as fans, both for our own clubs and players and those beyond. However researched or knowledgeable it may be, rarely do they move. But they do move.
Once anyone has their mind made up these days, that's about as close to a cul de sac as one can get. Such and such is world class. Another - similar player - is living off his teammates ability. Managers are both frauds and geniuses. Could even be the same manager if you ask two different people. The fact is that most of the time these opinions are left unchallenged. It doesn't even matter if they're right or wrong. The only way to really find out is when things are going wrong.
Comfort and change are strange bedfellows. Why would a manager swap things around when everything is going well? He can try to find that secret combination which will suddenly make everything "click" again. Sometimes he can try too much. But he has to try. Liverpool are in a position to try things. For the eternal pessimistic, their season is as over as Chelsea's was around this stage last year. Perhaps for Dejan Lovren however, that might be a Stamford Bridge too far. Which is to say he should not play for LFC again.
The problem is not the defeat in isolation. It is in what it confirms about the summer. What it says about a squad that is not as strong as those who are making decisions thought it was. That's why hurting matters. The likelihood is that it won't get much worse than this. In terms of fixtures, there aren't many more [away] games to strike fear into our hearts. The hope is that we get on a run. The kind of roll that takes us as far away from our downtrodden minds. If we do we need to bear in mind one thing. The pain of right now. If we do not learn from it in the present, we will be doomed to repeat it.
Tuesday, 28 February 2017
Wednesday, 18 May 2016
Metaphorically speaking, LFC is at something of a crossroads. Win or lose. Champions League or there will be no European football gracing Anfield next year. All or nothing? Not quite
The problem with metaphors is that at some point they can't stretch far enough and fall apart. Failing to go the right way at an actual crossroads doesn't lead to death or anything particularly morbid. It just takes longer to get to your eventual destination.
One road is paved with gold. The lure of Champions League football would be impressive, especially added to the lure of the manager and the momentum we already have. That being said, whatever path we take, we keep on moving. Always.
Describe the consequences of tonight's result to someone who knows nothing about football.
If Liverpool win we get Champions League football.
If Liverpool win we get loads more money.
If Liverpool win potential transfer targets will see us as a more viable option.
Are they looking at you weirdly?
If Liverpool win they will have won a European trophy.
All that needs to be said. Come on Redmen. Let's do this.
Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Brendan Rodgers has a problem. Getting Liverpool Football Club back to the top of English football once more. A task that once felt so near to completion, only for it all to come crashing down around him. It's not a responsibility he must carry with him alone but his shoulders bear its considerable weight this time around more so than in previous years. Relentless - like an impatient toddler - the demand to arrive at this most coveted of destinations continues ever to grow. While our final destination remains the same, every season brings with it a unique starting position. So how do we get to there from here?
There is no definitive route to the top. No method which guarantees success. Within that there is scope to chose your own path. The Premier League is a perpetual motion machine and as such every team has a decision to make. They will all have their own aims and ambitions, as well as an idea of how they're going to achieve them. Standing still is surefire failure and even if the road taken arrives in disaster quicker, it's a risk worth taking. The quickest route isn't always the most convenient, there may be compromises that have to be made. Risks that have to be taken. Even more so when in our case the reward is the Premier League title.
In a straightforward race to the top we are ill equipped. There are those with greater resources and are much more acclimatised to such a journey. But there must be a way of evening the odds. Not so much cheating the system but rather reprogramming it for our benefit. Finding a short cut in footballing terms isn't about skipping anything. Quite the opposite in fact. Bringing together a group of quality players while getting the best out of those on the periphery. Having the literal definition of a team - on and off the pitch - pulling together in the right direction. The work will be hard and the end result overly simplified. Pages of tactics, hours of research, the sum of hours of endless plotting; once it translates onto the pitch undergoes a transformation.
Weeks of training come down to a single moment and within that - dependent on its success – lies the justification for everything else in between. No one off instance should define a player, his manager or the club but it's in those more critical that we find out the most of all involved. The emergency situations are where the Grand Design should reveal itself. When one point simply isn't enough and there's fifteen minutes to find a winner or the opposition simply refuse to lie down. Whether psychologically or in tangible real terms, something simply has to go your way. Talent shines through - be it managerial or on the playing staff - and these instances begin to take on a life of their own. They can very quickly become almost mythological. Beating the opposition before a ball has been kicked, or conversely making a team believe it cannot win regardless of the situation.
A philosophy - and or – an ideal playing style is a blanket term for an accumulation of these moments. It can happen once and be considered a fluke. Any more than a handful and the dots join up to form an image of the manager's own making.
In every day life, plans don't concern themselves with minutiae. They are about one word questions; the who, how and where. Tactics have to encompass much more than that. In addition to identifying all of the above, they must nullify threats that have yet to reveal themselves while not suffocating the personnel involved with so much information that they cannot come up with spontaneous solutions. Do circumstances dictate or does the architect decide to manufacture them for himself? The plan - no matter how meticulous or well detailed - is always something of a charlatan. A confidence trick played on oneself, albeit an often reliable one. The future is never set but it can often be expertly forged within the mind's eye.
Simply having a method is of no great indication of its effectiveness but rather the understanding of the situation within the mind of which it was created. Far more important to any plan of action is the resources at one's disposal. Even the most accomplished of schemers would struggle to amass anything with poor working materials.
Through circumstances partly of his own making, that's where Rodgers found himself last season. It doesn't matter whether there are doubts about his ability to manage or the specific names of those he has chosen to put right what went wrong last year. Now there are definitely weapons to wield.
Hindsight doesn't work in football. Fans and pundits can use it to justify themselves having seen one version of reality play out. Learning from mistakes isn't simply about reversing one decision when a similar situation arises but rather understanding exactly why the decisions that were made at the time didn't turn out the way we'd have liked.
[When faced with a difficult choice, the failure of one option does not automatically grant the other infinite success - especially in football. You can do everything right and still lose]
After what's happened in the last twelve months it's easy to see what went wrong and exactly the point at which our meteoric rise began to fall almost certainly coincided with one enigmatic Uruguayan donning a different coloured kit. Easy but a little too simplistic. Removing Suarez from that team should not - and didn't - result in some of the football we saw at times last season. Here's where that line of thinking gets corrupted. Back then we were told that it was foolish to play football in such a manner. That being so open would get us so far but not all the way. It would all end in disaster. They were right. Only just.
Liverpool in 13-14 were a great side, albeit a flawed one. There aren't many in world football without any. Even those that can consider their imperfections insignificant to their ambition may not win it all. It's not about trying to exactly replicate what once worked so well because it's very possible it may not translate this time around. Teams adapt and learn at a rapid rate and to go back in time would be foolish. In this current climate however, there is one particular aspect that almost certainly needs to be rediscovered.
The top four right now exist within a vacuum. Those outside looking inward with jealous eyes, scrambling for an invite inside yet failing to realise it doesn't work like that. There's no way to stumble into the Champions League places any more. In principle one of Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City will have to come fourth and to simply finish above them will be enough but if that’s the goal then fifth or sixth become very real possibilities. What once was five or six into four has evolved. In terms of ambition, it's become four into one and in order to give ourselves a chance of fitting into that group we have to – at least initially – go for that top spot.
Almost from the offset last season, Brendan Rodgers was on the back foot. Even before the summer had put into effect the changes in players, it seemed as if the noise was of reigning ourselves in. Putting too much stock in how our defects could ultimately prove to be fatal and ignoring the decline in our armoury. Football management can be something of a Rubik's cube with artificial intelligence in that regard. Making one side perfect is hard work and even then, a moment later and it can all be wrong again.
Settling for a place in the top four was a mistake then, just as aiming for one now would be. In order to oust those that finished above Liverpool, at the very minimum we must match their ambition. Certain players have been brought in to do specific roles, the intricacies of which are largely insignificant – from a fan perspective anyway. What is important is the bottom line of their recruitment. Storing ammunition. Hoarding arms. Failure this time around could be as a result of a number of factors but being tentative should not be one of them. If we're going to go down, go down swinging.
With this team and with these options, our best chance is to be bold. Ignore perception. Defy logic. Safety first is anything but. It isn't perfect, but what is? Whatever plan of action is put into place, do it with a clear mind. We need to define exactly who Liverpool Football Club are going to be and why that particular persona will help us achieve our goals. It might not work but it is our most likely path toward something approaching success. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Die trying.