Beware of the experts

Posted: June 4, 2011 in English Football

The sports media may be useful for getting up to the minute news, but they’re useless at pretty much everything else.

There can hardly be anything more satisfying in life for highly successful individuals than proving to young upstarts, that after years of dominating their field, they still have what it takes to be a winner. I think that’s the general feeling among the Liverpool faithful this summer. Just six months ago sensationalist sports writers were saying that Liverpool was a club in terminal decline, and that a Leeds-style implosion was a very real possibility. Apparently we were going to be relegated from the Premiership, lose all of our A-list players, and spend the next few years in the wilderness. Even the normally stoic Arsene Wenger warned when asked about Liverpool, that a good team takes many years to build, but a fall from the top can happen almost overnight.

But then came the second half of the season in which Liverpool beat Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, and earned a remarkable draw away at Arsenal. We finished second in the form table just behind Chelsea. And along the way played some of the most attractive football the Premier League had seen this past season. Every journalist commented how “remarkable” the turn around was. But it shouldn’t have surprised anyone. If it were not for the laziness of most sports writers they would have seen that at the beginning of the season Liverpool had a core of players who could give any team in the league a run for their money. The spine of the team, with Reina, Carragher, Lucas, Gerrard, and Torres, was as good as any other in England. All LIverpool needed was the ownership issue to fade into the background, and a manager fit to lead one of the world’s most famous clubs. With John Henry taking over from Hicks and Gillet, stability and security returned to the club. Kenny Dalglish shooing that Cockney who will not be named, out the door, meant that a manager with tactical understanding beyond ‘kick and run’ would be in charge of the first team. And in swapping Fernando Torres for Luis Saurez the spine of the team was made even stronger. That these few changes would make Liverpool into one of the most formidable teams in England once again was something that I, or any close observer, would have easily predicted when the team was sitting in the bottom half of the table. After a disappointing draw against Wigan in Novemember, I commented that watching Liverpool was like one of the rare bad films Steven Spielberg makes. It seemed like everything needed for a hit was there, but somehow it didn’t come together. All that was needed was a few minor tweaks to the script, a better soundtrack…and voila! A winner.

Now as always, whether next season will see Liverpool pushing for the title depends very much upon transfer decisions over the summer. The policy which the club has publicly stated that it will pursue makes me confident next season will be an enjoyable one for Liverpool supporters. Gone is the policy of spending four to seven million pounds on mere squad players. Instead, expect just three new players of a very high calibre, thus avoiding the usual mercenaries who crowd out any opportunities for academy youngsters to progress into the first team. Couple that with the return of our world-class play-maker Alberto Aquilani ( again, a terrific player written off as a “flop” by newspaper hacks), means that Liverpool has every chance of reclaiming it’s rightful place at the summit of the British game.


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