“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never,in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” The words of Sir Winston Churchill.
After the weekend we’ve had, those are very apt words for Liverpool FC as we approach the last 10 games of the season. The final bend before the final furlong. The time to get the whip out and get the steed to focus on the line ahead. The final push where winners and losers are made. This season, contrary to Brendan Rodgers’ claim of being the “Chihuahua” of the Premiership, I’d say they’re more like the dark horse. The one that sneaks up on the outside to catch the favourites napping in their gallops of complacency.
Nobody had expected the team to be where they are at the beginning of the season. Yes, we won the first three games 1-0. Yes, those first three games included that lot from the wrong end of the East Lancs Road. And, yes, “An improvement on last year’s seventh place finish would do…” We all thought. Or qualification for European competition at best. Let’s be honest, nobody foresaw this. Second with 10 games left to go and only four points off the leaders. Rodgers would have taken this quicker than a life boat on The Titanic if you’d offered him this at 2:45pm on 17th August last year. In truth, wouldn’t we all.
We come back to Churchill’s words. “Never give in”. The entire Liverpool squad now has to stand up and be counted. The odds remain against us, and indeed we’re all pinching ourselves. I applaud the approach of Rodgers to the question of the title. Basically: Let’s just keep on improving and maintaining the level we’re at. The team has a new resolve this year. An attitude that epitomises the words of the great leader. Many a fixture this season, I’d have fancied us to lose given our recent history. Stoke away, Fulham away, Tottenham away and now Southampton at St. Mary’s this weekend. All games the team would have done well to come away from with a draw in the not too distant past.
Rodgers must be commended for the determination and steel the team has shown this season. Resolute has been the watchword for LFC this time round. With the exception of a couple of soft results away to Hull City and West Bromwich Albion. The team has shown steel in abundance to answer the questions that have been asked of them. Granted, the defence is still shy of what I’d expect from Champions elect, and I believe this will be the teams undoing in their efforts this season, but the performance on Saturday showed that the team can be on the ropes, take the body blows and still come out fighting. They never gave in.
In the last two games against Fulham and Southampton, there was signs of nerves from the team but for me, they have absolutely nothing to lose and should approach each game as such. Be bold. The next game is against Manchester United at Old Trafford and you have to fancy Liverpool. United will be up for it, to put a stop to the racket coming from their so-called noisy neighbours but I’m hoping the din will be too much for them to bear.
Like any supporter of any Premiership side, I think Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure was a massive gain for the rest of the league. And, a huge loss for United. Their demise has opened up the entire race and it’s been the most enthralling for years. This time last year United we’re 11 points clear at the top on 89. The year before they and Manchester City were a jaw-dropping 19 points ahead, tied on 89 points. Points do not equate to entertainment and I find the current state of fewer points at the top, 63 with a four point gap to second, more palatable than what’s been served up this last couple of seasons.
I’ve supported Liverpool for the best part of 40 years now and since the good times in the seventies and eighties, and the Champions League in 2005, there’s not been that much to shout about if the old grey matter serves me right. The team has recently had a knack of getting so far, then catching Englandattheworldcupitis – I think it’s called – and shooting themselves in the foot, just as they need to put said best foot forward. I daren’t dream just yet. I’m just fluffing up the pillow!
So, some words of encouragement to everybody’s favourite team over the next couple of months. Never, never, never give in. In the here and now, its totally clear, you have nothing to fear, but fear itself.
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen