What’s different this year?

Posted by

by  Rebecca Parry

Although it can be easy to get carried away with how the League table looks at this early stage, Liverpool fans will realise that there have only been four games.

The result at Swansea has given us all a bit of a reality check, and that injuries and inexperience for some players will affect us throughout the season. However, it has to be said that Monday’s game gave the chance to players such as Martin Skrtel to step up and show that there is a place to fight for. One thing that Liverpool has been lacking for the last few seasons, and could have particularly led to the recent underachievement was the lack of competition and depth in the squad. Leading players such as Suarez and Reina had no major threat coming up behind them, and although they are an example of players who have given their all to the club, a bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone. This time two or three seasons ago, one injury to either Skrtel or Agger and the whole system would have either have to be changed, or a youngster brought in to show what they’re made of. On Monday, Skrtel showed that even though he may not have been first choice centre back in Brendan Rodgers’ side, we have a very talented and reliable back up. And, as Agger’s injury record hasn’t been perfect, the Slovakian is an extremely good option. As mentioned, going back to a couple of seasons ago, Skrtel was voted Player Of The Season, and we would never have said that he would have been back up two seasons later- maybe this is a sign of how our side is coming together under Brendan Rodgers.

On the topic of the manager, Gary Neville rightly mentioned on Sky Sports how that this season is extremely important in terms of progress. The ever used word “transition” cannot be used anymore, as an excuse or explanation for underachieving. However, crafty purchases such as Victor Moses will certainly help Rodgers in the fight to keep the consistency going since the early games of the season. Although some of his quotes from the past year may have been seen as cheesy, especially in ‘Being Liverpool’, the things he has said look like they’re beginning to come together. The team looks like one; there are no superegos taking over, and the players certainly seem to love the instilling of confidence in them from the manager. In the past two games, Sturridge and Moses have made it clear in their celebrations how much the belief from Brendan Rodgers pushes them on, charging straight to the bench to celebrate. So far, on the pitch, this confidence is paying off. In the case of Sturridge in particular, it has been no secret that the treatment at Chelsea didn’t do him any favours in developing as a player. His reputation of being a fairly damaging personality in a team is not showing at all in his early Liverpool career, and especially for the start of this season, 4 goals in 4 games, totalling 12 in 10 appearances- the main man.

One thing that did surprise me on Monday night was the communication between the players. Losing a goalkeeper with such a unique personality in Pepe Reina, as well as the ever present voice of Jamie Carragher, there were concerns that on the pitch the rallying shouts and defensive calls would be absent. However, so far this season, there haven’t been any major errors at the back, and with 3 clean sheets in the league so far, it seems evident that the organisation is looking pretty impressive. Against Swansea, I was happy to see that Simon Mignolet was implementing himself in the team, shouting orders and inspirational calls to the rest of his teammates on more than one occasion. For what looked like a slightly shaky start in his first 45 minutes against Stoke, he looks settled and cemented in his place behind Liverpool’s back four.

When Philippe Coutinho injured his shoulder in the second half against Swansea, Lucas Leiva was of more assistance than the Liverpool physios in this instance. Translating through from Portuguese to English was essential as his fellow Brazilian was in need of medical advice. However, it was the attitude of what was posted on Twitter about the favour that was most inspiring for us Liverpool fans, as he (unsurprisingly) stated to the physio; “we are a team mate, you know that”.

What we’ve been missing year after year is the hard fought ability to grind out results. It’s those one-nil wins that determine a Champion or a Runner Up, or in a more realistic example; confirming or missing out on a top 4 place. The first three wins were consistently one-nils, Sturridge, Sturridge, Sturridge. Not only is our star striker at the moment picking up the goals, but the defence seem to be holding on and making those last ditch tackles successfully. Jordan Henderson seems to particularly impress in the dying moments where these tights wins are made. Being at Anfield myself against Manchester United, his passion and desire was brilliant to see. Winning a throw in the last minute meant that the game was almost certainly won; this sparked an almighty roar from the midfielder towards the Main Stand and The Kop. A victory that always means more than just the 3 points, and it’s good to see this is the way for the players too.

Only time will tell whether these positive signs will continue through the season, but the early stages show that there seems to be a lot more togetherness, desire and passion towards what we’re fighting for.