I begin this topic on the presumption that we finish within the top four and then secure champions league football for the 2017-2018 season. If the unthinkable happens on Sunday and Middlesbrough get a result at Anfield & Arsenal go on and beat Everton, then I doubt there will be any Liverpool supporter out there who says this season has been a successful one. So before that can possibly happen, lets presume we finish top four and lets discuss it.
What was our target at the beginning of the season? Well Rome wasn't built in a day but I still think those supporters who compare point tally's from previous seasons to prove that we are making some sort of progress are somewhat naïve. It really gets on my nerves hearing things like 'We finished on 50 points last season and this season we have 55 points so we are making progress'. It's not really progress if we are still 5th or 6th in the league is it? We are Liverpool at the end of the day. We are a massive club and we exist to win trophies. So, I think it's fair to say that our target was a top four finish and some silverware. That, for us, is the minimum target each season.
We were knocked out of the semi final of the league cup, disappointingly, by Southampton. Three days later, we were knocked out of the FA cup fourth round, embarrassingly, by Wolves. Our focus has therefore been solely on the league since the end of January and it has been a bit of a roller coaster to say the least. At times, we have been truly abysmal playing some terrible football but there have also been many times where we have been unbelievably good too. We have leap frogged teams into third and have been leap frogged ourselves and dropped as low as 5th/6th. It has been a bit of a see-saw with four different clubs jumping on at the same time.So no silverware again for us this season , but lets say we do finish inside the top four then. Was it a good season?
We began the season incredibly well and we even found ourselves top of the league at one point having played most of our rivals away from home. I, like many of us, started to get a little bit carried away and began think that this season was going to be a special one. Watching us collapse and fall apart the way we did shortly after Christmas was tough and something I didn't see coming if I'm honest.
We have been terribly unlucky with our injuries this season though. Our skipper has been out for most of the campaign. Our best player Mane has been injured too plus he was at the Africans for a good month. Matip, Coutinho, Lallana have all had lengthy spells out of the team. We have a very thin squad and most weeks our bench consists of unknown teenagers. It is quite impressive that with such a small squad, we still find ourselves in our current position. Last season, Arsenal finished second with 71 points. We are currently on 73 points now and in fourth position. So we are likely to finish on 76 points but still in fourth place. It shows that the league has been much more competitive this season and we've had to deal with that.
But, is it not Klopps fault that we are scraping 11 players together each week? He has had three transfer windows now so should he have not brought more bodies in so we could cope better in such circumstances? If Klopp had signed three or four more players, could we have challenged for the league perhaps? Secured top four much earlier? Won a trophy maybe? Did Klopp go into this season unprepared?
The answer to the above question becomes irrelevant once the season kicks off. You just have to deal and cope with what you've got. So, with that in mind, if we had progressed further in the cup competitions, would we have found ourselves in the top four? I would argue that no we wouldn't have. I think that with a squad as thin as ours we would have dropped out of that top four in no time at all. Surely we would have suffered more injuries, suspensions and perhaps it would have taken away any momentum and focus from our league games too.
We would then go back to that old favourite discussion of ours of whats more important, a domestic cup or a top four finish? I personally believe that right now, in this moment in time, a top four finish is FAR
more important for Liverpool FC than a domestic cup. It is all about building platforms so you can eventually challenge on all fronts. Will an FA cup attract the worlds best players here? No. Will a league cup provide us with the funds to buy the worlds best players to bring them here? No. Securing champions league football will though. So was being knocked out of the cups actually a blessing in disguise perhaps?
Is being knocked out of a cup EVER a blessing in disguise?
My thoughts are that as disappointing as it was to see us drop down from 1st to 4th and as disappointing as it is to go yet another season without silverware, (we are going to have to stop signing about everton soon because one league cup in 10 years is pathetic for a club like ours) that, all things considered I think this season has actually been a successful one (providing that we do finish top four of course).
Our ultimate goal was top four. A domestic cup would have just been a bonus for me. As I said, its all about building a platform and champions league football provides us with that. I would expect 6 or 7 top additions in the summer now allowing us to compete on all fronts next season. Next season is when I will expect silverware and to maintain our position in the top four too.
But what do you think? Did we blow it? We have the best record against the top 6 so shouldn't we have capitalised on that? We may have had a thin squad but the 11 we put out each week was still good enough to beat Bournemouth, Swansea, Palace etc etc etc. Perhaps Klopps stubbornness with picking the same team and tactics was the reason we couldn't beat the bus parkers and not the thin squad we had? Should Klopp have won something by now? This may be his first 'full season' but he has been here two seasons more or less. Is top four good enough for Liverpool FC in this moment? Would you have preferred a cup?