Both Manchester City and Liverpool are beginning to feel the strain as the first sign of the finish line is partially visible in the distance. In the space of a week and out of nowhere Liverpool and City dropped a combined seven points to the unlikeliest of opponents in the form of Newcastle, Leicester and West Ham.
Pep Guardiola’s men slipped up at St James’ Park leaving the door wide open for Liverpool to walk through and maybe even lock close behind them. As we now know that didn’t happen and since the Citizens were rolled over in the North East, Liverpool have failed to win a game. It’s obviously only a matter of time until that changes but this little stutter from the Reds has many accusing Liverpool of suffering from nerves given the magnitude of the situation they find themselves in.
These accusations have been quickly refuted by Klopp and his players with Andy Robinson the latest to come out and say it is fatigue rather than anxiety that is causing their slight wobble.
It’s hard to see how feeling fatigued is any better than feeling apprehensive, given at least you can do something about the latter. If Robinson is suggesting that the legs of a few of the players have gone with 13 games to go then there are far bigger problems lying in wait for Liverpool during the run in than a few butterflies in the tunnel before the game.
It’s almost as if the squad will blame anything else but the fact that they are feeling nervous which at the end of the day is perfectly understandable given the trying predicament they are in. Jamie Carragher urged Liverpool to put to bed any talk of nerves by putting in a convincing performance against Bournemouth but it’s difficult to see how that will be a long term solution.
Jamie Carragher has urged Liverpool to put talk of nerves behind them with a convincing win over Bournemouth on Saturday.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 6, 2019
A change of tack is needed to begin focusing purely on the job at hand again and the time may have come for the club to be transparent and rather start acknowledging that nerves are part and parcel of winning the title. Once they have confronted the elephant in the room, the noise coming from outside Anfield will drastically die down.
The club are still in a fantastic position thanks to a wonderful unbeaten run in the league that was only broken in early January. As it stands, the Reds have still only lost one game which is nothing short of remarkable. However, it is the recent stalemates that have the chasing pack snapping at their heels.
A trip to Old Trafford on the 24th of February presents a very real danger that more points could be dropped, especially when you look at the head to head stats from Betfair. Amazingly, Liverpool have picked up only one point from a possible six at the Theatre of Dreams since 2016. Arriving there with this current narrative still dominating the headlines could spell disaster for Klopp’s men.
Who would have predicted that Liverpool Football Club would go 29 years without winning the league, but that is how the course of history has chosen to play out. When presented with the chance in 2014, the Reds let the occasion get the better of them and right now the same turn of events are having life breathed back into them again.
Psychologist Carl Jung maintained that what you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.
“We have to fight, it is not about pressure – it’s about enjoying the situation you are in.”
The boss. 👊 pic.twitter.com/F1LcpREoaA
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 5, 2019
The best thing the club can do is embrace the talk of nerves and use it positively in their favour. Once they do the weight of expectation will begin to fade and the players will realize that failure isn’t fatal. As soon as that happens, the carefree early season fluidity will come flowing back.