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Thread: Reflecting on the 20/21 season.

  1. #1
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    Reflecting on the 20/21 season.

    It's a wet Sunday, closing day of the season and I feel a need to write, so here we are. This could be a little "all over the place" or could turn out to be relatively concise. Who bloody knows. A glass of Ginger Beer and some quiet ASMR on the background and the quiet, cosy dog at my feet will likely influence procedings, one way or another.

    A season of three - part 1

    Liverpool entered this season with high expectations. The arrival of Thiago Alcantara heralded the continuing evolution of the side and we arrived into the season as Champions - at long bloody last, after the most arduous of 30-year waits, with multiple false dawns and heartaches along the way. The proverbial monkey was off the back and we had high hopes. We had also added Jota, who we viewed as a vital player to rotate with our front three, plus Tsimikas, who was added to give Robertson a chance to rest.

    Regrettably, 5 games into the season, we were robbed - twice in fact. Firstly of our Talismanic centre-back, one of the most vital cogs in the wheel of how we like to play. Then by VAR as we scored a 3rd goal that wasn't, due to an offside call that took the shine off a lovely goal, created by Thiago's beautiful pass. We all purred that day when Thiago was on the ball, but, early doors, we had taken a huge blow. Psychologically this was rough to take on the back of a 7-2 "freak" result against Villa. It would have been easy to have given up on a Title challenge there and then.

    But we dug in. From our 6th League outing against Sheffield United (2-1 in our favour) right through to our 16th against Newcastle (a dour 0-0) we were still a resilient outfit, albeit with a stunted attack. Three strong results aside (3-0 over Leicester, 4-0 over Wolves, 7-0 over Crystal Palace) we weren't burying teams - 6 narrow wins and 5 draws in this run of unbeaten games was a clear indicator that we weren't as cohesive as before - and truth be told we had seen signs after the Covid "restart" when seeing out our title-winning season that we might need to refresh or tweak a couple of things.

    As much as the Crystal Palace result (briefly) restored some hope, it merely papered over another crack in our wall. Already devastated by the loss of Van Dijk, Jota Jota sustained an injury during Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at FC Midtjylland - when already qualified. As we entered the new year, it looked like we could hit a little trouble.

    A season of three - part 2

    But it would prove to be worse than that. From the 17th round of League matches right through to the 28th, Liverpool would lose 8 games, draw once against Man United at would win just the three matches. This period of time (4th of January to 7th of March) would see very little in the way of reprieve - our saving grace being to reach the Champion's League quarter-final, having beaten RB Leipzig in the last 16. Indeed, the feeling was very much that Champion's League progression might be our only way to stay in Europe's top competition. The sense of Doom and Gloom was rife, with one pundit (we'll revisit this) describing us as the "worst Champions ever".

    2 particular periods of footballing history kept coming to the surface of Liverpool minds. First, the 09/10 season under Rafa Benitez - we would miss out on Champion's League football by a mere 7 points which would start off a chain of events that would (eventually) lead to our current manager taking over. The second, was a half-season of Klopp's with Dortmund, his last, 14/15 - Dortmund would manage 4 wins, 4 draws and 11 losses in the first 19 games (of 34), giving fans relegation concerns. What people often forget though is the 9 wins, 3 draws and 3 losses from the remainder of that season. Still - we were worried and rightly so - our worst Home run of all time occured, with 6 straight losses at Anfield.

    A season of three - part 3

    Much like Dortmund's business end of the 14/15 season though, we would recover - and only now do we see just how strong a recovery it was. On the back of all the injuries, players with Covid, poor goal-scoring form from Mane and Firmino, the loss to Real Madrid, injuries to Jota, Van Dijk and apparently half of Planet Earth's centre-backs (despite strengthening in the January window, only for that to fall flat too!) we went "to the well" once more and conjured a Herculean fightback.

    From game 29 to game 38, we managed to win 8 of our 10 games and draw the other two to ultimately finish third. Two of these matches would be decided at the Death, with a 91st minute screamer from Trent against Villa to really kick off our belief, plus one of my favourite headers of all time coming from our goalkeeper to wipe the smirk off Sam Allardyce's face.

    In the end, a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace exorcised a few Demons. Champion's League qualification was SECURED with the down-but-not-out Reds managing to finish in 3rd place above recovering Chelsea.

    A season of changing narratives - we didn't play out a Champion's League final, but we stayed in it to have what would once have been a "typical Arsenal" of a season - we reached the quarter-finals of the Big Ears Cup and finished in the Top Four. A season we would rather forget, but one that ultimately will have a few nice moments to remember now - thanks perhaps, in no small part, to Man United fans inadvertently doing us a favour by getting our lads a couple of extra days of recovery by forcing the rescheduling of a game.

    So what does our late run mean?

    We're consistent.

    Let's start with the obvious here. Champion's. League. Football. This is especially important for us as it signifies a few things -

    16/17 - qualified for the Champion's League.
    17/18 - qualified for the Champion's League.
    18/19 - qualified for the Champion's League.
    19/20 - qualified for the Champion's League.
    20/21 - qualified for the Champion's League.

    Do you know how often English sides not named "Man City" qualify for the elite tournament of European Football 5 times in a row these days? Because let me tell you, it's one Hell of an achievement.

    Chelsea - a very strong outfit since 04/05, have finished 5th and 10th in the last 5 seasons.
    Man United - have finished 5th, 6th and 6th in the last 5 seasons as well.
    Arsenal - have forgotten what Champion's League football is, having finished 5th, 6th, 5th, 8th and 8th again over the last 5 seasons.
    Tottenham - had 4 strong seasons, but look to be approaching the end of their cycle, having just finished 6th and their star striker being linked with a move away at a time they are in £1.7billion in debt.

    This consistency we are showing is huge. Really huge. More than ever now on the back of the financial damage wreaked upon the Footballing World by the Covid-19 pandemic. Those missing out on European football could be in for some tough times ahead and (much as it can frustrate at times) our erring on the side of financial caution may yet prove vital, though it is too early to tell. More importantly than the (admittedly boring) financial side of things, is the capacity to keep star players (where can they go?) and to attract new ones - we're still a desirable destination now, as opposed to being viewed as a team at the end of a cycle.

    UEFA co-efficient

    I'm sure folks hate me bringing it up, but when we move into next season, we finally, FINALLY, remove the scar on our European rating that was the no-Europe season of 16/17 - which was a consequence of our loss to Sevilla the previous year. We have been holding 9th spot on 101 points (Arsenal of all sides in 10th, due to consistency, which seems mad) and just behind Man United in 8th. As we enter next season, we can only accumulate points and having cast away the anchor of a 0-point season weighing down our score, there is every chance that we will be in the top 7 or 8 sides (as other sides are "losing" seasons where they had good points scores, such as Man United's 26-point season in 16/17) which means we should have a relatively "easy" Champion's League group for 21/22 - how nice would that be! Alisson's header and Trent's late curler may yet prove to have been the seeds planted for a competitive season in the Champion's League, rather than us perhaps playing in the European Conference competition of all things. Who knows!

    21/22

    So what lies ahead?

    Well, we aren't in the group of 16 sides that didn't qualify for Champion's League football - so hopefully we are slightly less stung than some on the financial things and continue our growth/progression going forward.

    We should also have a reasonable Champion's League group to contend with, so, with a bit of luck, we will have knock-out football in Europe in front of fans to look forward to in 2022 - let's hope, eh?

    Lastly, 86 points for the Champions this season. It's so hard to get a read based off the Champions given the circumstances this year, so let's look a touch lower. 66 points got your 3rd (and 4th!) in 19/20, yet you'd have missed out on Champion's League qualification with that total this season. Is this a sign that we can hope to finish (at least) Top Four come the end of 21/22 and remain competitive? Let's hope so.

    Can we do more than that and challenge for the League and/or the Champion's League? Who knows - but we are pretty well run all things considered (FSG aren't perfect, but we don't have the Glazers or Kroenke) and have a wonderful manager and a side that still has life in it yet. With some recovery for key players and the addition of a centre-back, a midfielder and hopefully a forward, let's just see. Summer will be an interesting watch throughout Europe, but I think we're well placed to (at least) match this season (3rd place and a Champion's League quarter is very respectable) and hopefully can mount a better title challenge than the rather limp one put up by the Mancs.

    I certainly don't have sleepless nights about Real Madrid or Barcelona stealing our star players. Thank you Klopp, thank you Michael Edwards, thank you to all our players - you are the reason we are where we are - a consistent, stable outfit who have every chance of competing for top honours.

    What largely felt like our "worst season ever" has worked out much better than 09/10 for Rafa's Liverpool or 14/15 for Klopp's Dortmund. To my pleasant surprise, we have a Hell of a lot to be thankful for, despite the shredded nerves and frustrated souls this season.

    We won't miss this season.

    The adversity we faced was absolutely mental. Just look at what we faced -

    - infinite centre-back pairings
    - some very questionable VAR calls
    - what's a penalty? Can we have one please Sir?
    - injury to Thiago
    - injury to Van Dijk
    - injury to Jota
    - injury to Ox
    - injury to Matip
    - injury to the Captain, Hendo
    - injury to Gomez
    - injury to Keita
    - Trent's bad run of form
    - Robertson's exhaustion (relieved by a welcome break given by United fans, thanks lads!)
    - Tsimikas and Davies are figments of the imagination and don't actually exist
    - players out with Covid
    - Alisson lost his Father
    - Klopp lost his Mother
    - no fans
    - the Pandemic and all the loved ones lost
    - the financial hit of the Pandemic
    - disruption to the cogs in the system (Fabinho at centre-back / less help for Thiago who was adjusting)
    - the absolute what-the-fuckery of the European Super League

    There was just so much to deal with. Yet here we are. Klopp and the boys never stopped believing, never stopped fighting. I probably bring up "doubters to believers" one time too many for some forum users, but we really SHOULD be believing in this group of lads by now.

    "Worst Champions ever"

    I'd just like to point out that we finished 17 points behind Man City, despite the adversity I listed above and that Man City, who were defending Champions, finished 18 points behind us last season despite being a bunch of financially doped, sports-washing thunder cunts.

    Would also like to point out that Man United have had 39 penalties in the last 2 seasons, yet still have only "leapt" from 66 points to.....66 points.....and now have made the "massive" 8-point jump to a grand total of 74 points despite only missing their main centre-back for a handful of games, versus us missing our main man for 33 League games - along with Gomez and Matip for ages as well.

    So no, we are not the worst Champions ever. Endless injuries and very little in the way of "freebies" yet here we are, in the Champion's League of 21/22. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

    Special shout-outs

    Wijnaldum. Thank you. You helped us qualify for Europe in a very competitive season (we needed 75 points just to get 4th!) and have been a stalwart of this side. We won't know what we had until you're gone, but despite the occasional "anonymous" performance you have gotten through so much of the simple, control-based, facilitating sort of work. You enabled us to play, you were always available for a pass and you were so difficult to shrug off a ball. We'll never forget it. Your legacy will be relieving the tension against Middlesbrough on the final day in part, but most importantly, two of the most important goals in LFC history against Barcelona in arguably the greatest knock-out leg European comeback in football. Hats off to you Sir, you will always be welcome in association with the club and the professionalism shown in this final season despite the links away has been absolutely exemplary - no "back injuries" for you eh? The perennial smile and optimistic heartbeat associated with our recent success. A tip of the cap to you.

    Nat Phillips. The man's head is a magnet for an airborne football. He stepped up to the plate against all the odds and has seriously contributed in the latter stages of our season to help facilitate our future success. We can't thank you enough for it, whatever lies ahead. Step aside Kyrgiakos, Klavan and Toure - Nat might just be our most memorable cult centre-back yet, given what we achieved this season.

    Still here eh?

    Gosh, you made it this far? You're brave. Well, you're part of the forum and thus part of the family. A big thank-you to everyone. We haven't all got along as smoothly as previous years and occasionally got at each other's throats. The Pandemic put a real strain on our collective shoulders and Football, which was supposed to be our Sanctuary, wasn't terribly kind to us in our pursuit of escapism. But we're still here and so is the Club. Keep your friends close (but socially distanced) and be good to each other.

    Right at the Death, our wonderful Reds were good to us this year, against one of modern history's greatest challenges. Revel in the fact we're one step closer to being there for them.

    We're still here. Mentality Monsters, believers.

    Come on 21/22 - we're waiting.
    Last edited by Insidious; 23rd May 2021 at 08:59 PM.
    Your hobbies are rollerblading and you're also a bit of a rat-hound? Steel Wool
    Sid knows he's crazy and he likes it. Balinkay

  2. #2
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    I'll just add (to underline how bad the injuries were) the extent of things. I would have included this, but I actually had to edit my initial post already as it was 12 characters over a 15,000 character limit I didn't know about -

    Games missed through injury

    Virgil Van Dijk - 46
    Joe Gomez – 40
    Joel Matip – 28
    Naby Keita - 24
    Diogo Jota – 21
    Thiago – 21
    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 20
    Jordan Henderson – 17
    James Milner - 13
    Fabinho – 11

    Still finished 3rd. Still reached a Champion's League quarter-final.
    Your hobbies are rollerblading and you're also a bit of a rat-hound? Steel Wool
    Sid knows he's crazy and he likes it. Balinkay

  3. #3
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    Brilliant post Sid.

    Not sure but believe the filth got 74 points after today’s win.

    This made me chuckle.


    “I'd just like to point out that we finished 17 points behind Man City, despite the adversity I listed above and that Man City, who were defending Champions, finished 18 points behind us last season despite being a bunch of financially doped, sports-washing thunder cunts.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steveo View Post
    Brilliant post Sid.

    Not sure but believe the filth got 74 points after today’s win.

    This made me chuckle.


    “I'd just like to point out that we finished 17 points behind Man City, despite the adversity I listed above and that Man City, who were defending Champions, finished 18 points behind us last season despite being a bunch of financially doped, sports-washing thunder cunts.”
    Thank you!

    I'll make the appropriate edit on the United points tally - and I think everyone can agree on what Man City are!
    Your hobbies are rollerblading and you're also a bit of a rat-hound? Steel Wool
    Sid knows he's crazy and he likes it. Balinkay

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    Quote Originally Posted by Insidious View Post
    Thank you!

    I'll make the appropriate edit on the United points tally - and I think everyone can agree on what Man City are!
    Great post Sid and no spelling mistakes!

  6. #6
    Great summary of a season we'll all want to forget. I'm loving the fact that we, who've had such a crap season, have finished just 5 pts behind United who according to many pundits have had such a good season. We will leave them in our wake next year!

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    Quote Originally Posted by scientificred View Post
    Great post Sid and no spelling mistakes!
    Thank you - not drinking much (halfway through a second pint and that will be it) and honestly, despite my occasional drunken posts in here, I actually don't drink heavily very often - it's just that when I do, it's a huge release and I'll have a LOT, then not do it again for ages. The run-up to Christmas probably the exception to that.

    I probably average one pint every 2-3 weeks these days! But the end of the season merited a tipple for sure!
    Your hobbies are rollerblading and you're also a bit of a rat-hound? Steel Wool
    Sid knows he's crazy and he likes it. Balinkay

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    Quote Originally Posted by Insidious View Post
    Thank you - not drinking much (halfway through a second pint and that will be it) and honestly, despite my occasional drunken posts in here, I actually don't drink heavily very often - it's just that when I do, it's a huge release and I'll have a LOT, then not do it again for ages. The run-up to Christmas probably the exception to that.

    I probably average one pint every 2-3 weeks these days! But the end of the season merited a tipple for sure!
    Enjoy!

  9. #9
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    We have to pretty much ignore what the media say about us this season. "Worst Champions Ever" is just click bait/bull shit

    The injuries you outlined (with the exception of Keita, as I still don't know if he's good or not) have destroyed our season. I also think that not being able to play in front of fans as "champions" has had an effect.

    3rd is a great outcome when you take into account how far off we were 10 games ago.

    We've pretty much done it with a loan signing, a non league player and a rookie - rotating at centre back.

    We've also had Mane off form massively, as well as Trent having one of those seasons. Incidentally, how many games did Trent miss through injury?
    "...and my inch is like a freight train, so I only use it in self defence"

  10. #10
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    great OP mate

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