After last night’s unlucky defeat at Fulham, a deluge of online pessimism flooded through my Twitter timeline and the fan forums much as I expected it would.
This despite the Reds being on top for large spells in the game, hitting the woodwork twice, being narrowly denied an offside (though that should really be onside) call and being millimetres away from being awarded a penalty. Fulham were probably a little lucky to finish the match with eleven players on the pitch too.
Yet the negativity still rained down in droves. I for one have had enough of it. Do you know who I blame for a lot of the recent out-of-hand reaction to any matches that Liverpool don’t win?
Why? Because he gave us hope.
A little over a year ago, people weren’t getting all hot and bothered about nearly missing out on fourth, which appears to be the main issue at the moment, because there wasn’t a cat in hell’s chance of it happening.
Sure, there was anger online as Roy’s boys limped to another demoralising defeat, and every day that Hicks and Gillett owned the club was another day closer to oblivion, but as long as the club limped along outside administration and outside the relegation zone, people could *just about* stomach it (if clearly not actually enjoying watching their beloved team).
And then, in early January…
The return of the King!
Over the course of the final eighteen games last season, Kenny got Liverpool playing some wonderful and effective football. And most importantly of all, he gave the fans their belief back. Belief that the Reds could return to the elite of the English game sooner rather than later.
I’m not trying to say I didn’t buy in to that notion; I most definitely did, and still largely do. But it’s clear that the team over achieved under him at the end of last season.
Twelve months ago under Roy’s record, the Reds were a 47 points-a-season team. The benchmark for a 4th place finish has previously been 68 points (though it seems it is likely to be higher this season).
In other words, in the space of a year-and-a-half Liverpool had to improve by at least twenty-one points. Are there many teams that do that from one season to the next? Benitez achieved it between 2004/05 and 2005/06, but it’s certainly not a common occurrence.
It was going to be a big leap anyway, but at the same time, Dalglish has had to rebuild the entire team.
Look at yesterday’s game for instance; the only one of the starting front six who has been at the club for more than twelve months is Jay Spearing, a player with a whopping eleven league starts before last night!
And yet Liverpool really should have won yesterday. Much like they should’ve against Sunderland, Norwich, Manchester United, Swansea… (you get the picture). I think most Kopites would have been delighted with last night’s performance a year ago.
As the dream of Champions League football next year starts to disappear a little, people get upset. Perhaps rightly so, as it’s hugely important for the club to get back into the Champions League, for obvious reasons that don’t need repeating. But it was always going to be hugely difficult, and people need to remember that before slagging off all and sundry at Anfield after what was a decent performance.
I hold my hands up – I was confident at the start of the season that Liverpool could finish fourth. I like to think I don’t have my head in the sand, even though I do try and tweet some positive stats after a defeat or poor performance to try and help people remain upbeat, but I think people sometimes need to retain a sense of realism and remember how bleak things were just 12 months ago.
I’m far from the most eloquent writer around (I’m more of a numbers man, believe it or not!), but I hope people see the point I’m trying to make here. Thanks for reading my ramble!
Please take a look at my other articles, a list of which can be found here.