By Andrew Hutchinson
This Sunday I did something I thought I’d never ever, ever thought I’d do in nearly 25 Years of supporting Liverpool FC….. After watching Liverpool Huff, Puff and Labour to a 1 – 0 defeat against the Villa (I got the impression that all the energy spent getting Liverpool into the top 6 and injuries took their toll), I switched to the (wait for it…….) Manchester Utd vs Blackpool Match to watch as Valiant Blackpool were relegated and subsequent anointment of a 19thLeague title.!!
For those Avid Reds who didn’t watch (I’m sure the majority)…………. it was GRIM in words that cannot be described….. Seeing Ferguson and each of his players going up, celebrating, receiving winners medals… GRIM….Seeing Wayne Rooney with a huge smile on his face….. GRIM.,….. Michael Owen with a Smug grin stating that he was playing with ‘Great Players and a Great Manager’ and ‘He was adding to his collection’ or something like that – GRIM GRIM GRIM!!! Like the end of an Episode of a Soap Opera where the Big Bad Villain wins and celebrates his victory over all who come before him.. Depressing.
It reached a point when I had to turn off the Tele and go for a walk to clear my head – but – I don’t regret watching their ‘coronation’ of sorts.
Doing so made me even more aware of what is required from the Team to be successful next Season. Lessons can be learned from Manchester Utd winning the league…. Its a hard truth and difficult to stomach, but its important to learn from if the Team are going to be successful and realise our dream of winning a League Championship.
The following are a few thoughts:
1. If you expect to win and prepare to win – you’ll normally win: Man Utd expected to win the League and it’s that belief that played the biggest part in them actually winning the League. We need to regain our winning mentality. Thankfully we have a manager that will instil that in the players as well as some players in the squad who have a winning mentality – all the players need that belief – All need to combine working as a unit with trying to be better players than they are and challenging themselves.
2. How good are our squad: The question needs to be asked brutally, how many of the players we have currently would get into any of the top 4 – heck top 5. We have a number of young exciting players coming through and they need to be nurtured, but we do need to bring in players to enhance the quality.
I’d be tempted to send some of our young players out on loan to allow them to get experience if they are not quite good enough rather than put them in the team and then get found out. Liverpool’s first Team needs developed players, ready to play to the highest standards… they do not need good players who will develop into great players in time… .
3. We need a strong defence that makes few mistakes: This sounds so obvious… but if it is so obvious why can’t we achieve it? I understand that there have been injuries throughout the season / loss of form in places and Steve Clarke has made a difference of sorts but we need to be rock solid in defence – if the players available are not good enough – Get rid simple.
Liverpool needs a defensive Back 4 as good as / better than (Man U, Chelsea or Man City). That means either having a strong central defensive partnership and suitable replacements in the event of injury. If the players are not currently available – bring them in – We cannot keep on expecting second best.
4. The Return of Fortress Anfield: Kenny’s return has started the ball rolling but Liverpool needs to continue its strong defence of its home ground. Teams need to expect to get beaten when they go to Anfield – That’s what they expect when they go to Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge at the beginning of the season at least – (I won’t mention the Emirates, Eastlands or even White Hart Lane in this equation as you always have a sneaky suspicion you can get something from these grounds ).
Not being in the Europe (Champions or Europa) considering our squad size could be the best thing to happen to Liverpool in years…..if we can spendintelligently, convince the right players to come and integrate them into the squad. No unnecessary distractions this year while we rebuild and set in place strong foundations for the rebirth of a golden era – We just need to believe it is possible and have the confidence to make it a reality.