I am not sure if it is part of being a fan or simply part of the beauty of sports but every beginning is full of hope. Even for someone as pessimistic as I am when it comes to sports, I cannot help but feel a hopeful excitement heading into the season opener tomorrow.
“This year is the year” “It is our year” “This time is different”
We all have said it at one point and we all know several of us use these phrases annually. There is no doubt that this year will be different for Liverpool especially compared to the recent years.
If success is achieved step by step, we should almost be at the end of the road to reach what we are aiming for. Recent years under Klopp, the club has managed to take the needed steps to create a young and exciting team that reflects their coach’s never ending hunger. Consistent improvement and the success this has brought have enabled the team to build on its roster by attracting top talent and being able to sell them on the plan for the future. Keeping top players while adding more is relatively new to the team’s recent history after losing several of their top players in the last decade to teams with higher ambitions.
Liverpool has the highest of ambitions now which is what makes it the top challenge this year. The bar has been set at the very top and anything less will not be deemed just another step forward but more of a step back especially with the reinforcements over the summer. Expectations of improving and building on the year before gave even above average results like qualifying for the Champions League gave a sense of achievement in the past but it has now become almost a foregone conclusion. If Liverpool finish the year 4th this year, we will not celebrate the feat as we did two years ago. We will be disappointed and that alone is ironically something to celebrate as it shows the growth of the club over the recent years.
So we start all over again tomorrow… a new and different start to the year… more of a hunter than the hunted…more of a favorite than a surprise. Klopp wants the team to stay as Rocky Balboa, the hard working underdog, despite the labels the media and other coaches are trying to pin on the team. Mourinho might be a jerk(not might, is a jerk) but he is smart enough to know the pressure of being the hunted and trying to build on that pressure more by constantly whining about Liverpool’s spending and the expectations that come with it. The pressure to win is here now… not just showing an improvement and moral victories but more like time to deliver the ultimate success.
This will be Klopp’s big challenge. If Drago had the heart of Rocky, the series would have ended at Rocky 4, when it should have ended. This team has the strength of Drago but can it maintain the heart of Rocky? Given the improvement of the roster by addressing the top issues with top talent over the last year such as VVD at centerback and now Alisson in goal, this team is ready to be the top one. Can they stay hungry like last year and get the wins to reach the title? Finish off the finals and get the trophies? If you read this so far for an answer…well.. sorry…no idea. I can tell you that I have not been this excited about a team before the season started since the Lakers added Malone and Payton in the off season and we all know how that ended.
This will be different though… I am nervous about how this team handles its new role but have faith in Klopp as well as the veterans on this roster to keep the Rocky attitude going and start getting the trophies this club deserves. This is our year damn it!