Last season was so phenomenally brilliant for Liverpool that it will be etched into the memory banks for some time to come. But this season has seen the champions fall from grace in quick time. It can happen, we have seen it with Chelsea only a few seasons ago. But Liverpool have to stop with the excuses which are doing nothing but cheapen the club.
Liverpool have been the kings of Europe so to speak for the past 18 months, winning the league title and reaching 2 Champions League finals and winning one of those. A 60 odd unbeaten run at home followed. The incredible talents of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino up front were simply devastating, even scary. Their goals reigned supreme, here was a team who were built more like a machine- and then 2021 happened.
This has been the year to end Liverpool’s cycle, what a cycle it was, but it was short lived, of course at one point Liverpool will come back and will be a threat once more, but the fall off has been huge.
The club lost six games in a row at home, that is something that has actually never happened in the clubs 139 year history. A few of these defeats have been against teams you would have expected the club to beat in the likes of Brighton and Fulham. Liverpool even lost against derby rivals Everton at Anfield something that had not occurred since 1999.
Hopes of winning back to back titles were dashed within a month and suddenly Jurgen Klopp was wondering if his team were even going to finish in the top 4? Currently it’s possible that the Reds will not achieve that status and they could be playing in the Europa League next season as clubs such as Manchester United, Leicester and Chelsea have moved on. Liverpool also face stiff competition for places against Tottenham, West Ham and Everton.
The drop off has been huge and then the questions are inevitably asked as to why Liverpool have fallen out of form. Of course one could point to Virgil van Dijk’s injury earlier in the season, which has ruled him out of the majority of the season. But let’s not forget that van Dijk was part of the Liverpool team that lost 7-2 at Aston Villa, the signs were already there that Liverpool were going to struggle this season.
Mental fatigue has been thrown about and it has been accepted by many as a fine excuse. Yes Liverpool have been relentless in their pursuit of trophies and you can’t always win games. But the champions losing six in a row at home and probably finishing with 35 points less compared to the season before is just unthinkable.
The term mental fatigue is easy to throw around. But one has to look at other champions from the past to see what is happening in the present. Did Manchester United in their 20 years of dominance ever complain of mental fatigue? Sure United didn’t win the league every time in those 20 years and with 13 titles that was still an incredible achievement. But even when United failed to win the league, they remained a threat and they consistently qualified for the Champions League. There was no significant drop off not even in the mid 2000s when hundreds of millions was injected into Chelsea to make the Blues competitive. Soon after United won 3 league titles in a row and then beat Chelsea in the Champions League final in 2008.
Even Arsenal who remained in United’s shadow but still were a fantastic team did not drop off in their prime. If they were losing the title to United then they were finishing in 2nd place. One can look at Chelsea’s drop off in 2016 after winning the title in 2015 but that was more to do with manager Jose Mourinho losing the dressing room and the players going directionless as a result. Klopp has not lost any dressing room, so we can’t blame the manager and we shouldn’t be using mental fatigue as an excuse.
Perhaps quite simply the truth is that the players are not performing to their best. Maybe they are simply missing the famous stadium being filled up to the brim with fans and hearing the passionate Kop fans screaming their names and singing ‘you’ll never walk alone’. Then again how does that account for the fact that Liverpool have reached the quarter finals of the Champions League?
Surely if one is mentally fatigued then one is not even going to get out of their group stage? That isn’t the case and for whatever reason Liverpool have found a nice distraction from domestic football. Indeed if Liverpool were to reach the final that would be their 3rd in just four years, win it and much of this season could be glossed over.
As it stands excuses need to stop. Liverpool are where they are in the league because the players we expect to perform are having average to poor seasons and there is nothing wrong with admitting that. Liverpool could still finish 4th or win this seasons Champions League and have the last laugh, but the excuses need to stop.
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