Football has become all about the knee-jerk reaction. Louis Van Gaal is under pressure at Manchester United even though they’re three points off top spot. Manuel Pellegrini is under pressure after a defeat to Stoke. Jurgen Klopp is the best thing since sliced bread.
Poor Klopp. He came into Liverpool on such a wave of goodwill that he could have been a complete disappointment early on and it would have been forgiven. But he wasn’t.
Initially they had some problems scoring, but lately he’s sort of ignited the team, which is what we thought he would do – though maybe not so suddenly.
And then one defeat, one defeat where the problems of old were obvious once again, and people are mystified. But really, it was the best thing that could happen to him. Suddenly, after a turgid and, let’s face it, poor start to the campaign, Klopp turned things around to the point where Liverpool are now possible title contenders.
That’s not a knee-jerk reaction in itself. After all, why shouldn’t Liverpool be considered title contenders? In a league where every team is horribly inconsistent except Manchester United – who can’t score – and Spurs – who have managed a frightening amount of draws, why shouldn’t Liverpool be considered contenders if they can get a consistent run together?
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The knee-jerk reaction was believing that they were anywhere near being favourites.
Liverpool are still a long way behind the leaders – nine full points. And Leicester may slip up, but if they do, there are still quite a number of teams between Liverpool and top. Other teams who are capable of taking advantage too.
But if that’s a knee-jerk reaction, then the equal and opposite knee-jerk reaction is believing that they have no chance of winning the title because of their performance in defeat to Newcastle. Liverpool are allowed off-days, just like everyone else. And given the progress so far under Jurgen Klopp, they’re not too far off being a team who can win the title.
We all know what Liverpool can do when they go on a run of form. The Luis Suarez-fuelled team that came within a stud-length of winning the title in 2014 went on an amazing run of games after New Year’s day to set up a title challenge, and even last season, even when they were so abject for so long, there was an unbeaten run that lasted from December to March.
Liverpool are a team who seem to go from strength to strength on form. But that’s probably not surprising. Liverpool is a city of warm and passionate people, and the club seems to run on warmth and passion too. You only have to look at the fight for justice the families of the 96 Hillsborough victims took on to see the passion and the fight that there is around the club.
Obviously the Hillsborough campaign is supported by more than just Liverpool supporters. It’s something that unites anyone who has even the slightest sense of justice and fairness. But the ferocity of the campaigners and their willingness to never let go is something that typifies the club.
So when Jurgen Klopp, such a passionate man, comes into the club and instills some extra passion into his team, you just know that Liverpool, the club, the city, the players, will respond to that.
So although it’s a mistake to say that Liverpool are even likely to win the title – more likely than any of the other title contenders, at any rate – it’s also a mistake to say that they’re not even contenders.
Klopp may not be able to bring the title back to Anfield this season, but that won’t be a failure. Equally, though, there is at least the potential for Liverpool to do it. So let’s stop making knee-jerk reactions to Klopp’s tenure and start remembering that there’s a long way to go, and a long road ahead upon which progress can be made.
The Hillsborough disaster happened almost 26 years ago, and still the campaigners are fighting for justice. They’ll tell you that success can take years, but if you are successful, the wait will be worth it.