From Belief to Great Expectations
This time last year Liverpool awaited a certain Brazilian’s return from back injury and were unsure if he’d stay or not. Just as many gushed over Moreno’s form and why Andy Robertson would be a good backup for him. Many also wondered why Klopp bought Oxlade-Chamberlain if he wasn’t going to use him. Similar to current clamour for more playing time for Shaqiri, demands to play Fabinho, start Sturridge more and calls to rest Salah amid befuddlement at why Naby Keita is yet to hit his Bundesliga heights.
Reviews of Jurgen Klopp’s third year anniversary confirm progress in tandem with FSG from foundation up is headed in the right direction. Most significantly, by taking us through breath-taking journeys to two unexpected cup finals and qualifying for the Champions League, we were turned from doubters to Believers. By reaching the Champions League final and starting this season the way we have, fans have learned to transcend from ‘Belief’ to having ‘Great Expectations’ again. Staying in the place of Great Expectations may be challenging in light of many decades since our last league title and painful memories of crashed expectations of the 2013/14 season. I think a reminder of who we are will help us remain expectant.
“From Belief to
We’ve done it before
When Bill Shankly won the First Division title in 1964 (his first), it was 17 years since our last one in 1947. During that period, we spent eight seasons in Division Two and Shankly was manager for three of them, leading us to promotion in ‘62. The pressure Shankly must have been under to lead us out of Division Two and return us to title-winning ways had to be intense. It could not have been much different from the pressure Klopp is under. History informs us it took some quite revolutionary strategies like creating ‘The Boot Room’ and rebuilding the team more or less from scratch to get us back on track.
Shankly let 24 players go and I can imagine the incredulity of it back then as club favorites were affected. It took the club believing and working harmoniously together with the maverick Shankly to build proper foundations for the all-conquering Reds we know today. Shankly led us out of the Second Division in ’62 to win the First Division title in ’64, our first FA Cup in ’65, the league title again in ’66 while simultaneously reaching and losing the European Cup Winners’ Cup final to Borussia Dortmund. Winning four major trophies in five years must have demanded belief to meet the increasing fan and club expectations. Just as Shankly got it done then, Klopp looks on the way to getting it done too.
It took Bill Shankly three years to get us out of Division Two as he rebuilt the team from scratch, similar to what has taken Klopp three years to do. Upon promotion back to the elite, Shankly won the title 2 seasons after; kind of similar to Klopp leading us back into Champions League elite. Now we are also better positioned to challenge for major honours.
The club has not won silverware in ages and neither have most of our players individually. Players must learn to handle the pressure of staying on top and fans’ increasing demand for trophies. I think going through the last seven games to remain on top should have strengthened their self-belief and reassured them of their capability to compete on several fronts. However, the possibility of not eventually lifting a trophy this season may be dampening some enthusiasm when recent good starts to the season are remembered. To douse potential disappointment, pockets of fans have already begun switching on self-preservation mechanisms by lowering their season’s expectations. To be ultimately successful, fans, players, manager and club must be in unison with expectations, no matter what.
The league is only eight weeks old; the FA Cup yet to start; we are firmly in the race to make the Champions League knockout stages; injured players will return and we are well-equipped to finish the season better than we did last time. We are in a good place.
“In Klopp I Trust”
We cannot allow elimination from the Carabao Cup to prompt negative thoughts after performing creditably to keep remain unbeaten in the League through seven tough games across three competitions. After all, we now have a better-looking fixture schedule immediately ahead of us.
In Klopp I trust
I have therefore decided not to allow anything to deter me from enjoying this season to the fullest, regardless of whatever hiccups and bumps we experience along the way. To ensure this, I adopted a simple but effective mantra I believe all Liverpool fans should. It’s simply, ‘In Klopp I Trust’.
I reasoned though it’s our duty as fans to worry, vent, criticise and suggest solutions, doing so 24/7 does not change a thing. Only Klopp and the club can make changes and we must trust them to. Though there has been significant tactical change from last season and our ‘front three’ are yet to hit top form, it’s interesting to note there is little difference between their stats from last season (see table). We have every reason to remain optimistic they will soon return to their goal-laden ways.
Furthermore, our main job as fans is to support the club, so I channel my thoughts energy into doing just that. Besides, we agree he has done a great job so far, don’t we? So let’s simply believe he will lead us to trophies and enjoy the ride while he does.
I believe. I am expectant. In Klopp I trust.