I thought with the new season almost upon us it would be good to talk about the hopes we hold for the coming year. Liverpool fans are famous and often mocked for their overly-buoyant mood toward their team’s chances of success at the start of each campaign. Expectations that “it’s our year” provide the stick that rival supporters beat us with. The cliche has followed us even beyond the illusive nineteenth league title in 2020.
It shouldn’t be so. Feeling excited about the prospect of every team starting on zero points and the endless possibilities that the next nine months can bring should be celebrated rather than ridiculed.
It’s what we’re in it for. If you don’t get butterflies in the pit of your stomach before the opening game, you need a new hobby. Replace your overwhelming sense of dread with enthusiastic, yet measured, expectations. Dare I say it, that dread is better left to our blue neighbors!
And yet, for the first time in what feels like a long time, there seems to be an overriding sense of vulnerability and trepidation about what is to come. No one among us seems to be tipping us for the title. Even the classic line “I’ll be happy if we’re still in the mix come April” seems to have passed us by on this occasion.
We all know 2022/23 wasn’t great. There are valid concerns that many of our shortcomings haven’t been rectified in the transfer market. But we have been significantly more boisterous in much worse circumstances in summers gone by.
We should be absolutely bouncing into Chelsea on Sunday like caged animals. Yes, things can go wrong this weekend. We have certainly looked exposed defensively at times during the preseason. But you can guarantee they’ll be experiencing the same anxieties after finishing seven places below us last season!
People hate hearing this because so much of what has happened in the past twelve months has put us on a completely different spectrum. However, we did come within two games of a quadruple not so long ago. Things can change on a dime in football. Nobody could have foreseen the change Arsenal undertook last season in almost ending their two-decade-long wait for a Premier League crown.
The reason the first week of the season is so magical is that everybody gets to pretend that it could be them this time around. Leicester City won the league in 2016. Leicester City!
In the eyes of the books, we’re currently third-favorites to lift the Premier League trophy in May. This means as far as the odds are concerned, we start the season in a better position than 90 of the 92 teams in the Football League. The stress is to be expected to an extent given that 92 points don’t guarantee anything anymore. We have experienced this firsthand. A slow start can see your chances unravel before you’ve had the chance to blink.
We dropped points in our first three fixtures last season. Our hopes dissipated before our very eyes. Top-four chances had been written off by February before a late surge rekindled the fire ever so slightly.
But let’s give them six games. If any group of players has earned that buffer it’s this group. They’ve given us some of the best days and nights of our lives. They will almost certainly add more memories to that this coming season irrespective of whether it ends with silverware or not.
There is always light in the dark. Alisson’s header at West Brom. 7-0 against United. These are just two examples that spring to mind without doing any extensive research.
Strap yourselves in. Manage your expectations accordingly. It could be magical or it could be disastrous. But you can bet your bottom dollar it won’t be boring!
Positives and Negatives – American Scouser Podcast