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Liverpool Eager To Defy ‘Bottler’ Accusations In Premier League Run-In

So Manchester City have returned to the summit and suddenly, the questions are whether Liverpool have lost their nerve and have thrown away the Premier League title. Even though there is just one point between the sides and another nine games to go.

Dave Bowler author logoBy Dave Bowler

As we stand, City do have to be considered favourites to go and clinch the league, simply because they’ve been over the course and distance before, they know the job. But to suggest that Liverpool are going to just capitulate this time, the way they did to hand City the prize back in 2014, seems fanciful.

Panic set in amongst the pundits – and some supporters – after they were held to a 0-0 draw at Everton last weekend, a result that can hardly be considered catastrophic given it’s amongst their toughest two or three fixtures of the entire season. There’s nothing Everton want more, as their season slowly expires into mediocrity, than to at least stop Liverpool winning the league.

Taking the long view, to come away from the game with a draw was a decent enough result – City, don’t forget, have a similar appointment at Old Trafford in late April, though some United fans might prefer their noisy neighbours to win the title than Liverpool, it’s true.


Much seems to have been made about Jurgen Klopp’s response to questioning after the game that suggested Liverpool were too conservative. As ever, that is a matter of opinion, but some seem to think they saw a chink in Klopp’s smile, that the mask slipped as he answered angrily.

Others of us would argue that it’s about time a manager ridiculed the current vogue to treat real football as if it is a computer game, that too many pundits and fans seem to think that human beings can be moved around a field the way they do it on their TV and computer screens.

It is, of course, errant nonsense, but it is quickly drowning intelligent footballing discussion, replacing it with a childish view that just by throwing more and more attackers into a game, you get better football. That’s a bigger argument for another day, but Klopp’s rehearsing of it at Goodison doesn’t suggest that he’s losing his nerve. It simply suggests that he’s losing his patience arguing with the ill informed.


These are different times, much has changed in the five years since Liverpool came close to the title, not least that City are an even better outfit now than they were then. But the biggest change is at Liverpool, for they are no longer weighed down by the Messianic Steven Gerrard.

Obviously Gerrard was an all-time great Liverpool midfielder, there is no argument about that. But as the years went by and his apparent destiny, that of returning the league to Anfield, looked no closer, both he and his acolytes became ever more anxious, more paranoid that it wouldn’t happen, that there would be no second coming after all.

It meant that year on year, Gerrard became more overwrought, culminating in the hysteria of 2014, “we do not let this slip, we go again”, terrified that that they would not go again, nor the chance come again.

Second Best

That came from a career at Anfield in which the Premier League was always beyond them, from a passionate Scouser who had to watch Manchester United stack up title after title, ultimately overtaking Liverpool’s record, knocking them off their perch, from years of being in England squads with Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, David Beckham, reminding him of the medals they had and that he didn’t. In the end, that need to win overwhelmed him and with it, the cub.

Jurgen Klopp and his largely new team has no such baggage. They simply play and try to win as many games as they can. Of course they are under pressure, but nothing like the pressure that Gerrard heaped on himself and his club. In comparison, this Liverpool has a freedom that the side of five years never had.

Sure, Liverpool might not win the league. But unlike in Gerrard’s day, it won’t be because they bottle it. It’ll simply be because this season, Manchester City are better.

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