I don’t think that the system is the problem. Our current problems run far deeper than just going from 433 to 4231 or 442. There is an obvious lack of freshness and of confidence right now (due to the poor recent results), and somehow, our attacking play looks disjointed as hell.
On the defensive side however, where in theory we should experience most problems, we are fine, and don’t get many goals. Yesterday’s result was as freakish as it gets. Burnley did nothing all night, and would have been delighted with a 0-0. The fact that they won has to go down as a wonder-result for them, and a highly undeserved one too. Our lads worked hard as they always do, and did the right things until the last thirty yards.
It’s in that zone where our game has become stale. I don’t think that the opposition teams have ‘figured us out’. They do the same than before, but due to our lack of efficiency, they get away with it now, when last season, moments of magic, of perfect coordination and almost telepathic understanding between our players did the trick.
So, what’s happening then? This is the same squad minus VVD and Gomez. But no squad relies on just two players, so it can’t be their injuries suddenly transforming us into a mid-table team. There is something beneath that.
For me, the answer can be resumed in one word: Covid-19. Ever since this shit started to happen, our star went down from the heights where it then was. The pandemics made us lose a key component of what made us so strong: we lost the supporters inside Anfield and more generally, the pressure generated by the crowd.
This point can’t be emphasized enough I think. Klopp built this team in order to strive from the pressure created by the fans. He and his lads established a firm connection with them. No other team had such a link with the supporters, not a single one in the world. Kloppo and his lads always shared everything with the fans in the ground. Every goal, every win, also the hard moments. They were absolutely feeding their energy and commitment levels from it. It was their X factor, which made them stronger than any other team.
It’s gone since a long time now. Everything has become so boring, so un-football-like. No wonder that the lads can’t bring the same level on the plate than before. The opening poster cited Bobby as the symbol of our problems, and I couldn’t agree more. He’s the player who needs the crowd to get going, who celebrates with the fans, who invents celebrations to enjoy with them. His trickery feeds on the reaction from the crowd. He’s a shadow of himself now… For me it’s no haphazard that he seemed to find his good level again during the period when a couple of thousands of fans were allowed back in, and has lost it completely again since the second wave and the again-empty stadia.
Kloppo, the man who is at the heart of it all, is also someone who needs the crowd. Without the emotions going with it, he looks a bit lost, and you can almost see him think ‘What the fuck are we doing here, this has no sense at all’. Our game has lost what he managed to bring in and made his lads so strong: the sense of joy, that the game is there to be enjoyed by everyone, first and foremost. Not a sinister job which has to be done, that’s more Burnley’s or the red mancs’ speciality. For understandable reasons, the aspect of joy has been completely lost, through nobody’s fault apart the pandemics.
For me, Covid-19 is the single most important aspect of our current demise, and I don’t expect it to change before people are allowed to watch football again, and thus, to make football what it really is again. What we currently see is no football. Even at junior level, you always have people watching the game, shouting encouragements etc. This here is… well, it’s impossible to take any joy out of it as far as I’m concerned, and I’m sure that it is the same for the players.
The only conclusion for us has to be the following one: we need to take on the chin what comes along for us. It won’t be nice I think. As it looks, supporters won’t be allowed back in before the end of the season, and thus, our lads will continue to lack that X-factor until it is back.
A lot of patience is required now from us, and loyalty as well, towards those who gave us so much enjoyment until the pandemics began. I’m sure that they’ll find back what made them so strong, and will give us joy again. But most probably not before next season.
It is as it is, as Kloppo would say.