LIVERPOOL FOOTBALL CLUB – THE CROSSROADS

 

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Well it didn’t take me long did it. After a few short weeks I have found myself inadvertently resorting back to my biggest passion and ultimately my biggest source of sporting frustration Liverpool Football Club.

You see I believe at this very moment that Liverpool are at probably the most crucial point in their recent history. A crossroads so to speak where they will either move on up the road taking the next steps to returning to their once globally known greatness, or like many scenes from the TV show Supernatural, bury some chicken bones in the crossroads, summon a demon and make a deal with the devil which will ultimately make them lose their soul. Now you maybe wondering what the hell I am on about, well let me explain. Over the past 5 years Liverpool have got themselves into a pretty good position. Iconic Anfield has been redeveloped into what is now a fantastic 55,000 seater stadium with the potential for further seats in future. In my honest opinion the club now has one of the very best and most liked managers in world football in the shape of the affable German Juergen Klopp. They have built a squad able to compete at the top end of the table and most importantly have gotten themselves back into the elite world club competition, The Champions League (if of course they manage to pass through a tough two legged qualifying tie with German side Hoffenheim). Last season at times the football was breathtaking, especially against the top 6 sides. So yes, I think Liverpool Football Club has gotten themselves in a pretty darn good place.

So what next? They way I see it only two ways it can go from here.

The right way: Keep all the current top crop of players at the club and only get rid of the dead wood. This means not falling into the pressure of selling players for big money just because it makes financial sense. One thing is clear now, Liverpool FC is on a very strong financial standing. If you include prize money, TV rights, commercial sponsorship, merchandising and gate money, the club DOES NOT NEED TO SELL. ¬†What it needs to do now is stop focusing on financial matters at the club and start focusing on winning god damn titles and trophies. The only way to do that is to continue the investment in the playing squad, whilst making sure the best of our players go nowhere. Looking at the current day situation, this means not selling Coutinho to Barcelona no matter what the incoming offer. I know, I know. Barcelona is Barcelona and if the player wants to go can you really say no? The answer to that question is a resounding YES. The player was given a new, lucrative 5 year contract just months ago which he was happy to sign. So, he must stay. Now in saying that you cannot hang on to an unhappy player forever, so if it were up to me, I would be telling the player that he needs to stay put and focus for 1 more season, and then should after that season he not believe he can achieve his dreams and success with the club he will be allowed to leave if the right offer comes along. A fair deal for both parties I believe. On the flip side of the coin Liverpool need to continue investing in high quality additions to the squad. We don’t need average players anymore, god knows we have had enough over the past 30 years. From this moment on it can only be players that will make an immediate impact, players with the class to win you trophies. If they continue with this strategy over the next 5 years they will get back to being formidable both on and off the pitch which is the perfect scenario. Talking players, personally I would love to see Virgil Van Dijk come into the club. This player is top notch, he looks so comfortable on the ball, his reading of the game is immense and for a big fella he is lightning quick. And MOST IMPORTANTLY, he is brilliant in the air which would hopefully solve Liverpool’s defensive crux, conceding easy goals from defending set pieces. Unfortunately, Liverpool being Liverpool it looks like we may have already “screwed the pooch” on that one after being reported to the FA earlier in the transfer window for “allegedly” tapping Van Dijk up. What a bunch of fucking amateurs. Thankfully for us fans money talks and bullshit walks and with the player firmly edging for a move and the reds clearly being his preferred destination out of some miracle the deal still may happen. I believe their will be a few more twists and turns in the Van Dijk situation before August 31st. I will just be crossing my fingers, toes, eyes, testicles and any other bodily parts that I can manage in the hope that he doesn’t end up with Chelsea or Man City. In terms of other positions I would have liked to see a world class striker come in to the club. Someone who can guarantee 20 goals a season. An Aubemeyang, a Cavani, a Lewandowski or even a Sanchez or Aguero. Sadly I do not see this happening.

The Other Way: Well the other way this scenario can go, which we have seen at Liverpool for a generation now is for them to continue the trend of letting the best, world class players leave the club. I have seen it too many times over the years and it pisses me off. From the days when the club let Fowler and McManaman leave to more recent examples with Mascherano, Alonso, Torres and Suarez. None, and I mean NONE of these players should have been allowed to leave the club. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why the left, but the club should have been doing everything in their power to keep the players and unfortunately in nearly all of those cases it was not so. Suarez was the only one that I think it was impossible for the club to keep, because he was one of the best in the world at the time and had family reasons for also wanting the move. I think most fans did not begrudge him his dream move. Had Liverpool managed to keep the majority of those players in their prime I guarantee you that the long, long wait for the Premier league title would have ended some years ago. Instead, they were weak when we should have been strong and ultimately the trend always became 1 step forward 2 steps back. This can happen no more. Time to be strong, put their foot down and dictate the way it is going to be. Unless a player goes on strike, he stays. And if there is a time when they do need to let a top player go then he must be replaced with two players of equal or better standing.

So the question now remains, which way do I think it will go? My heart tells me we have finally turned the corner and are truly on the way back to greatness. Under the current owners FSG (love them or hate them) I have seen significant progress in all areas of the club. As stated above the stadium looks amazing. The capture of Klopp was a massive step forward and I am quite satisfied with the way the squad has developed over the past few years. If you just look at players like Matip, Henderson, Can, Lallana, Coutinho, Wijnaldum, Mane, Salah, Firmino and Sturridge aka Elijah Price, (check out the movie Unbreakable for that reference), in my humble opinion they are all top quality players who know how to get the best out of the Klopp system. To add to that the youth system seems to be working very well also. Trent Alexander Arnold will be a starter before the end of the coming season, of that I am sure. I love this kid Ben Woodburn also, what a talent. He will be a star of the future no doubt and the new youngster Dominic Solanke, brought in this summer from Chelsea, looks a great addition also, sooooo in my heart and with some additional one sided reasoning I think Liverpool really have turned that corner. BUT, and this is a GINORMOUS BUT, the sale of COUTINHO and the failure to add one or two other top quality additions could mean another 2 steps backward, which in the current environment will seem like 5 steps backwards due to the clear advancement of the other teams in the top 6. City and United had spent big in the transfer market and almost look like they are in a separate league of their own in terms of quality, and Chelsea despite some issues this summer will be strong again. Conte will make sure of that. Tottenham and Arsenal look to be going sideways at the moment and well Everton with their new Chinese money have bought half of Europe, but mixed in their one or two very good players.

So as the 2017/2018 comes at me head first like a sledgehammer, as a proud Liverpool man for some 30 odd years, I find myself going into the new season with hope. Hope that we can continue to keep progressing forward, hope that we can build on an good season past, hope that we can keep our stars and add a couple more and hope that my faith in the current ownership, Fenway Sports Group, with make true their original promise of leading Liverpool back to the promise land. I must admit that looking at the success of their US Franchise The Boston Red Sox fills me with continued hope for the future.

In the meantime us Liverpool fans will do what we always do. You know, what through the storm with our heads held high.

YNWA.

Planet Oz.

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