Opinion

Liverpool Fans – Their Own Worst Enemy

Throughout our history, Liverpool FC have prided ourselves on the unrelenting support and belief of the fans. Some attribute that attitude to the City’s hardships, particularly in the years of the Thatcher government. During the 1970’s and 1980’s especially, the City was in turmoil, and football was a release not just from work, but from life for many. Liverpool FC was at the forefront of it all, but in truth, it began long before then.

Liverpool were the first English club to introduce singing at Football matches in the 1950’s which ratcheted up the atmosphere before kick-off. The City was an epicentre of a musical phenomenon that would later produce the Beatles, and the vocal crowds reflected that. Though even before then it seemed that Liverpool fans appreciated a working-class, never say die attitude on a football pitch above all else. If a player displayed that, the fans would appreciate them unquestionably. Results were important but were notably secondary to effort and passion.

But, times change. The advent of social media has given people a way to say what they think at a moments notice, and this ‘first thought, best thought’ approach often targets players. It’s a growing problem, and fans who still stick by the club’s long-held values have become jaded and concerned for the next generation of fans. Even for players, who earn hundreds of thousands a week, social media can be a very confronting place.

No better example can be seen than in the position we find ourselves in now. With the win against Burnley, Liverpool have made their best ever start to a Premier League season, and if not for Man City’s almost perfect performances, we’d be top of the table. Yet some aren’t satisfied. Despite Alisson’s current league-leading number of clean sheets, six league goals conceded, and our highest ever points total at this stage in a Premier League season, some fans seem to believe the sky is falling.

“Mo Salah and the rest of the front three aren’t firing on all cylinders, and we aren’t brushing teams aside as we did last year.”

“Jordan Henderson shouldn’t be captain. He’s unreliable.”

“Klopp’s tactics are all wrong.”

“We’re getting lucky when winning games.”

These are things you see from Liverpool fans on a daily basis online. Seemingly every game, there’s an accompanying stormcloud over the announced XI even before the match starts, usually about the midfield or centreback pairing. Regardless of if the players getting the nod are in a good run of form, some seem to take issue with not seeing their favourites in the side every game. It worries you, considering where we want to be, with 60+ games a year, everyone has their part to play.

In years gone by, our rivals have been applauded for doing some of the things people are moaning about now. Winners at the death against rivals, finding some way to eke points out in games that they may not have deserved, defensive masterclasses bailing out a struggling attack at the other end. These performances, from fans and media alike, were called a “sign of a good team”.

In that sense, perhaps Man City have set the bar so high that our more workmanlike approach has gotten lost on some of the fans. Indeed, many are lamenting the fact that Liverpool are on this kind of run when other teams are too, and for weeks it’s been a stick or twist mentality.

However, many complained about Klopp’s lack of a ‘Plan B’ in certain situations last term, and our inability to see games out hurt us on multiple occasions in seasons gone by. Usually this would happen after throwing on an extra defender late and still conceding a goal or not knowing when to be smarter with the ball at our feet.

To combat this, Klopp has taken a more pragmatic approach, especially with a lead, and adopted more of a possession-based game that, even at 1-0 down, was on display at Burnley. While patience was wearing thin after Jack Cork’s second-half goal sent a chill through the hearts of Kopites the world over, the Reds on the pitch remained calm and found a way to turn things around, eventually winning 3-1.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we likely would’ve lost that game at this time last season. With van Dijk and Alisson both playing starring roles in this year’s fixture, we’re much more comfortable in difficult situations. If you logged on to social media last night though, you’d have thought the result went the other way.

Klopp’s decision to make seven changes was drastic, but his changes were, on the whole, effective. Naby Keita won Man of The Match, James Milner scored, Jordan Henderson played what was perhaps his best game of the season, the midfield looked steadied and Hendo did the job asked of him, while Xherdan Shaqiri stepped up for an injured Sadio Mane and secured the win with a tidy finish to cap off a crisp counterattack. The substitutions, another big issue in the past, were spot on. Bobby Firmino’s goal to make it 2-1 meant two subs in as many games have scored after coming on. Mo Salah also created three chances following his introduction.

What surprises fans at times is how the team keep disproving theories as to what’s changed from last season. We’ve displayed a ‘Plan B’ while still turning on the style when needed, fixed the leaky defence, and Mo Salah’s only a goal behind Eden Hazard, who’s been raved about so far, while Salah’s been slated.

So when do the complaints stop? The divide between the older and younger fans of this great club has never been larger, but when do we realise that we both want the same thing? We all want our team to succeed. That seems to be the only way that Liverpool will get over this one final hurdle. Everyone, young and old, from around the world, needs to get behind the team through thick and thin. When we’re together, we can accomplish anything. We go again. YNWA.

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