By David Shams
The odds are long and the hope fading. Liverpool’s title challenge is nearing its end.
Manchester City has been chased, pressed, and harried at the top of the table much like the gegenpresse tactic Liverpool manger Jurgen Klopp has made famous. At one point, in early January, Liverpool had a chance to go up 11 points. It would have been an insurmountable lead, one that would have surely led to Liverpool’s first title in 29 years.
But they lost that game, and dropped points in a further four matches. Two 1-1 draws to Leicester City and West Ham and a pair of scoreless matches against two rivals—Everton and Manchester United. A win in any of those games and Liverpool would be at the top of the table, two points clear.
Hindsight’s 20-20, as they say. And looking back, trying to find what went wrong and when, is likely a futile endeavor. Maybe it was one of the three ties to Chelsea, Man City, or Arsenal in the first half of the season. Maybe it was that loss to Man City on Jan 4th. There’s no way to tell what doomed Liverpool’s season.
What the hell am I jabbering on about? I’m acting as if this season’s an utter failure. That there are little to no bright spots in the 10-month season.
As it stands Liverpool are on 88 points. And while it’s not guaranteed that they’ll win out, there’s a good chance our Reds will end the season with a points haul in the mid-90s. That points total wins them the title in every season except this one (I’m assuming City wins out as well) and last when Liverpool’s current title rivals hit the 100 points mark.
All we can ask for as fans, really, is that year-on-year the team makes improvements and there’s at least a good faith effort to challenge for a trophy or two. Keep us within a sniff or two of the trophy and we’ll be happy…at least for those of us who are rational. Get us close year-on-year and eventually we’ll hoist a title.
Klopp, FSG, and the club in general have gotten us to that point.
Last season we earned a spot in the Champions League final. This year we’re challenging for the first title in 29 years (sure there have been other challenges, but this one seemed all the more likely). We’re likely to end with a 22-point improvement from last season. And just maybe, there’ll be a return to European glory, as long as we get past Barcelona in that all important semi-final match up.
All is not lost, Liverpool fans. There’s still three games to go in the league—and at least two more in Europe. City have to win out…so do we.
We know the task at hand.
Win at home v Huddersfield today, then send all the positive vibes possible to the Burnley faithful at Turf Moor. Dominate the Camp Nou like we did in 2007, then win at St. James Park. Two days later, send our positive vibes to Leicester as they travel to the Etihad. Defend Anfield against the Catalans. And on that final game of the league season, scream our hearts out and pour every ounce of energy in to beating Wolves and hoping Brighton get a result at home.
These are simple things really. The sorts of things we should have been doing all along.
If you’re confused just listen to the chorus of You’ll Never Walk Alone: “Walk on, Walk on, With hope in your heart, And you’ll never walk alone.”
Up the Reds!
David is the founder of DC Soccer Digest. He lives in Washington, DC. You can follow him on twitter at @ShamsWriter.