Brendan Rodgers’ side head to Carrow Road on Sunday to take on Norwich City and to take advantage of the recent slip by fellow challengers Manchester City. The trip to East Anglia is by no means a foregone conclusion and Liverpool will do well to come away with all three points. This match is every bit as important, in fact now moreso than the win against Manchester City. That’s in the bag. We move on. There are four principle reasons why for us supporters, Liverpool cannot underestimate this fixture.
Humility and Respect: The match against Norwich is another massive fixture for the boys from L4. The Norwich team should be treated in exactly the same way as Manchester City and Chelsea, or even Barcelona for that matter. This despite the apparent feeling amongst some LFC followers that the main “threat” to number N-N-N-Nineteen is now just Chelsea. This couldn’t be any further from the truth and it’s my bet that this is coming from the younger contingent of supporters.
Anybody that has known the success of Liverpool FC in the past will know that this has come through having a certain humility and total respect for the opposition regardless of their stature or league position. It’s a cliché but there really is no bigger match than the next one. Not just for Liverpool, but any successful side. Take Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, a manager I have huge respect for despite the Gooners’ constant moaning. They went 49 games unbeaten between May 2003 to October 2004, a word Wenger used on many, many occasion was humility. The fact that all opponents are treated as equals, deserving of respect and with the same application, desire and approach from his side.
Turnerism and Hunger: Turnerism? “What’s that?” you may ask. Read on. These elements only emphasise the above. The fact that Norwich City have a new manager. Following the sacking, somewhat misguidedly in my opinion, of Chris Hughton after less than two years in charge, the side now have a new leader in untried and inexperienced Neil Adams. The King is dead, long live the King [sic] City defender Michael Turner with his “praise” (or brown-nosing as it’s commonly called) for Adams’ new approach. Unfortunately, this a reflection of the game and the shortsightedness of many players and teams alike. They have played like absentees for a majority of the fixtures under Hughton and now, they are out to impress the new manager. They are not playing for the team, the supporters and not even the new manager in reality but sadly, only for themselves. And they wonder why they have a perennial struggle against relegation.
Thus we have another element to this match. To coin a new phrase, “Turnerism”. The effect that having a new manager brings. The increase in the player’s performance to impress. The increase that’s been missing for a majority of the season. The increase that would have given the side 35 points instead of their current 30. Ultimately the increase in performance that will make the difference between a respectable result against Liverpool or getting a damned good hiding.
Liverpool are aware of this. It’s evident from captain Steven Gerrard’s reaction to the final whistle on Sunday. It’s clear from Rodgers’ reaction to the result and the accusation of “…having the title to lose…”. Rodgers’ reply has been that we now look forward to Norwich and treat that match in exactly the same way. Rodgers has brought that humility and respect back to the club. Not that it was ever gone. That would be insulting to Souness, Houllier, Benitez et al, but there’s just a something about the application of the philosophy that makes a difference – that “Je ne sais quoi”. Or, without wanting to alert Simon Cowell, that “X-factor”.
The race is not over until the final whistle of the final game. The race is still so open that it won’t come down to being “Mathematically impossible” until the last game as things stand. The finishing line is in sight. That said, we can’t celebrate anything until we not only cross the line, but cross it first.
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