THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

5 May ~ In the WSC season preview for 2011-12, I wrote that, for Liverpool, "a nice quiet season with no trauma would probably be the happiest result". It's hard not to feel sometimes like the universe is mocking you. And yet a season that has included indefensible actions from a star player, one of the most ludicrous PR blunders ever committed by a top-flight football team, a home league record as bad as anything since the 1940s and an expected finishing position lower than any season since the year Graeme Souness was sacked, could yet reach a conclusion that feels, in some bizarre way, positive.

After all, two domestic trophies in a season – for the first time since 2001 – is not an achievement to be sniffed at, nor is an already guaranteed return to Europe. Despite a truly wretched set of home results, the football has largely been of a higher standard than it was under the new England manager. That has been in spite of, rather than thanks to, last summer's crop of signings, and all the half-decent football in the world cannot make up for a complete and unforgiveable lack of conviction in the final third.

Winning the FA Cup at Wembley would end a traumatic season on a high note. It would not redeem the season entirely, but it would be an exponentially greater fillip than a lacklustre Carling Cup win. But there has been little in recent months to give a rational supporter hope that Liverpool will beat Chelsea today.

For the good things Kenny Dalglish has done in his second spell – and there have been some – there is little sense that the club has anything approaching an established first 11 in a preferred formation. It is very difficult to sum up what Liverpool's style or gameplan is, beyond "hit the woodwork five or six times and then concede a late sucker punch goal".

Yet, in just about every conceivable way, if there has been a pattern to Liverpool's season at all, it has been in defying expectations, whether positive or negative. Some of the club's players seem to be able to rouse themselves for one-off, everything-on-the-line games and the team as a whole has a remarkable record against Chelsea of late, winning four on the bounce and sitting undefeated for two calendar years. Given the startling regularity with which the two sides tend to meet, that is no mean feat.

Unfortunately, all these glimpses of hope are likely to achieve is to make any eventual defeat seems like a genuine disappointment rather than the resigned inevitability that usually comes with being the underdog. That is the story of Liverpool at the moment. Even our pessimism lacks conviction. Seb Patrick

Comments (6)
Comment by donedmundo 2012-05-05 11:15:09

For most clubs in the premier and football leagues two cups in a season would be regarded as incredibly successful. It says everything about modern day football that such a result for Liverpool will be regarded by many as a failure.

Comment by G.Man 2012-05-06 07:19:46

That's a bit like clutching at straws. With their very recent history as a Top 4 regular and with the immense net expenditure on players, Liverpool's performance this year and last has been embarrassing. Surely wining the League Cup, fun though it is, should provide about as much consolation as it did to Norwich in their relegation year 1985.

Comment by Karlheinz Riedle 2012-05-08 10:42:03

As you rightly point out, Liverpool's season has been blighted with "indefensible actions from a star player and ludicrous PR blunders". I've always had a soft spot for Liverpool - as a Fulham fan, I always supported them on the side as "the big club" I wanted to do well.

Yet this season, between proposing a cash-grab/individual television rights, the reactions to the Suarez affair (Which will forever tarnish my opinion of Kenny Dalglish), the racist abuse of the Oldham player, the monkey noises made by the fan at Patrice Evra, the booing in the first place of a man who - whilst a hothead and loose cannon - has been racially abused, and other transgressions, have dropped them in my estimations to somewhere slightly above Chelsea, Wolves and QPR.

Thus, I feel that if all is right with the world, a "bad" season by the standards of the fans (i.e. No CL qualification and not winning the FA Cup) is more than deserved for a side that seems to have tarnished its good name in the space of a year. Hopefully, next season will see a different side.

Comment by Karlheinz Riedle 2012-05-08 10:44:50

I also forgot to add, whilst I disagree with Alan Davies' comments on playing on the day of Hillsborough, the reactions from the fans and the Justice for the 96 campaign were ludicrously out of proportion to the offence given, and allowed people with the same keyboard-warrior tendencies as the Muamba abuse student (who, funnily enough, attends my University) to vent their spleens in such a manner. And that's my two cents.

Comment by Coral 2012-05-08 11:24:47

"For most clubs in the premier and football leagues two cups in a season would be regarded as incredibly successful. It says everything about modern day football that such a result for Liverpool will be regarded by many as a failure"

Sort of, but for me it draws more of a point that Liverpool have had a bad season. The cups are not what they were and Liverpool could have won both of them and yet still have fallen well behind in the league with the posibility of being lower than West Brom, with their manager. It is the fact they are so far behind where they used to be that makes it seem a failure. And if those smaller clubs you mention had spent £100m, then they would probably judge a Carling Cup win and drifing away in the league as a failure.

Comment by trickydicky 2012-05-08 14:21:34

All I think about when considering if winning two cups is better than actually being good is that in the places that used to be filled by Javier Mascherano, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres we know have Jay Spearing (who I have nothing against), Charlie Adam and Andy Carrol.

Anyway, we didn't win two cups, we won one, the Carling Cup, which puts us somewhere around O'Neil era Leicester, or McLaren's Middlesborough, in terms of quality, but with an expensive bunch of flops we can only dream of selling and a reputation for incomprehensible stupidity that puts us in the same collective bracket as Gazza.

For what its worth, if this is to be reset any time soon, we need to move 'the King' upstairs, get a young manager with some sort of grasp of a game plan and modern PR, and go on the kind of good will crusade that will probably involve giving free kittens to every away fan.

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