I have always been a fan of the US Women’s National Team because I played soccer when I was younger and they are, independent of my playing soccer, really amazing. This led to me becoming a fan of World Cup football more generally and recently fate has conspired to draw me into being a follower of Liverpool’s football team.
This is a mixed-blessing. It means I get to watch more football and talk about it with people who care way, way too much about it. But it also means I am following one of the most frustrating sides I’ve ever followed. I’ve just been following for this season, so I don’t know the deep history beyond they hate Everton and Man Utd., and that, at some point, they were really good.
They aren’t bad, far from it, they tend to dominate on possession, have impressive passing completion, do beautiful things with their footwork, and have several stand out players. Luis Suarez is their striker-in-chief, and he is fantastic (and from the beautiful Uruguayan team, though he himself is not one of their beauties), Raheem Sterling is up front and also good, but very green (and definitely a beauty), and there is ever reliable and brilliant captain Stephen Gerrard. The problem is that this trio appears to be the entirety of the team — Suarez is the second highest scorer in the league, and has had a hat-trick, but that’s because he’s the only striker. Liverpool also has the dubious honor of having picked up more red cards than most of the teams.
In every game I’ve watched, they have looked to be the superior side. In every game I’ve watched, the score did not reflect that. For some reason, it seems as if the Liverpool team cannot turn excellent chances on goal and possession into actual goals. Really, every article written about every game they’ve played has mentioned something about how unlucky they were. And they have been extraordinarily unlucky, with bad calls and not getting calls, but at some point the team has to take ownership of their repeated failures. At some point it’s not luck, it’s Liverpool, quite consistently turning what should be wins into draws and losses, and what should be blow-outs into slight wins.
I hesitate to blame Brendan Rodgers, though his style of coaching is definitely aimed at possession and passing more than attacking, but it’s clear that the strategy is not working with the players he has. Coaching isn’t just about building the best team, and Rodgers can’t help the players, some of whom were monstrously overpriced, that he’s inherited and had trouble changing this summer. But the players are what they are and his coaching strategy doesn’t seem to be getting them to where they need to be. They aren’t at risk from dropping out of the league, no, but they still have a negative goal differential.
Undoubtedly, Rodgers is playing a long game hoping to get a better team together in the future and he really just has to play well enough to keep from dropping from the Premiere League. They seem safe and solidly in the middle of the pack, which I suppose is good enough for him, but it sure makes it suck to be a Liverpool fan. Here’s hoping January brings a striker.