It took just a week for Liverpool’s 3-2 win over Tottenham to become meaningless. Ok, those three points are going to count for something at the end of the season, but it was just another “false dawn” for the club – something no set of fans want to be associated with.
It represented a victory in body rather than in mind. Even with a win over a current top four club, Liverpool are nowhere near to convincing themselves that they’re good enough for the Champions League.
Liverpool have become their own worst enemy, and not because the ship is captained by a baseball fan. How do you balance the need to build patiently amid the storm of eye-watering transfers from Manchester, Paris and St Petersburg, and keep hold of Luis Suarez? Even after all that has been said by the Uruguayan of his desire to remain at Anfield, surely the forward isn’t an exception to the rule that hollow promises rule the day in modern football.
It would be a blow to the Premier League as much as Liverpool if Suarez were to move away – and for all his value to the game, I don’t see Liverpool surrendering their best player to a league rival once again.
It’s the matter of turning a corner and looking like a legitimate threat. For all the excitement it generates, using outside investment in the manner others have to build a squad good enough for the big time will long be seen as something of a dark art in the game. Liverpool are going about it the right way, picking up players like Coutinho for an apparent bargain price and adding depth to the scoring line with a youngster in Daniel Sturridge who is well-versed in the English game.
But it’s not that Liverpool need to look like a top four team now; it’s that they really need to look like they’re making progress. Losing 3-1 to Southampton is no way to build on the small success of victory over Tottenham.
It becomes frustrating for fans as much as players, and who’s to say Suarez will be around for a number of years to come, patiently waiting for all the pieces to fall into place? You would like to see it, but far too many clubs are being burned by the demands of modern players and the power of the chequebook. It would be incredibly naïve to say Suarez is sure to be at the club next season based on what he’s said in the past.
Yes, there has been a new manager and an owner who hasn’t totally backed Brendan Rodgers. But where is the sense that last season’s League Cup win has been a step forward? Such is the erratic nature of football that Liverpool is just four or five back-to-back wins away from laying all those problems to rest and genuinely making a late charge for the highest possible league place. The biggest issue is that up until this point of the season, we’ve seen little to suggest that this team are capable of banishing their own demons and getting the job done.
Three league wins leading up to the game against Southampton is exactly what you would have expected from a team who were given an injection of life in the January window. Performances against teams like Norwich showed the obvious gulf in class that hasn’t always been too clear for Liverpool this season. Draws against Manchester City and Arsenal when both games could have been won should have added plenty of belief that the end product isn’t too far away.
How much longer will Suarez resist the draw from those around Europe? Even he is sure to think long and hard on the prospect of playing for Pep Guardiola’s Bayern should the Bavarians come calling. The idea of La Liga complementing Suarez’s own style is also sure to be greatly attractive, too.
Keeping Suarez will come down to obvious progress being made, and it’s not always just about signing players. The whole club needs to have a mentality that the next step is achievable and the stuttering form is out the window.
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