Living in a Liverpool household is kind of awkward these days. Some of you live in the 1980s, singing tunelessly to Bon Jovi, and waving silk scarves on the way to matches. You think that Liverpool are still in contention for trophies. And some of you live in 2012, are thoroughly depressed with the state of modern music, and are convinced that Liverpool’s relegation is just around the corner for a team that will do, as the saying goes, ‘a Leeds’.
Leeds, of course, were the English champions of 1991, inspired by their talismanic French kung-fu artiste, Eric Cantona. They were one of the best sides in the land, and were still playing European football in 2002, with a squad made up of exciting youngsters and experienced old hands.
Now, of course, they are back in the Championship, the biggest team in the league, the one everybody wants to beat.
Liverpool, as many a pundit has said, have fallen quite some way from their 2005 adventure in Istanbul, and their FA Cup win in 2006, when they played with a squad made up of exciting youngsters and experienced old hands . Some people are even spreading harsh, unfounded rumours that Liverpool are even a (whisper it) mid-table team)
Which seems fair enough to me. When Dad tells me about Luis Suarez and his ‘tekkers’ – after the 5 minutes in which I tell him not to ever ever ever say ‘tekkers’ again – I tell him to compare his team to Swansea.
Goalkeeper – Pepe Reina is perhaps the most unfairly disregarded keeper in the Premier League. Time after time he has kept Liverpool in competitions that they should have been knocked out of. Michel Vorm had one of the best seasons of any custodian in the league in 2011-12, but nobody is saying that him and his team will be showcasing their talents in Europe next season.
Defenders – Ashley Williams is the rock on which Swansea build their team, playing and passing better than the Liverpool centre-backs last season. Angel Rangel also had a better season than Martin Kelly – although the youngster isn’t as bad as he is made out to be. Give him time.
Midfielders – Steven Gerrard has had the most unrewarding job in football for 5 years now. He has dragged Liverpool through dozens of games, and still feels the disappointment of defeat more times than the ecstasy of winning a trophy. Or, perhaps in the future, more times than even winning a game. Leon Britton, Joe Allen – now at Liverpool – and Mark Gower won plaudits last season for the way they played, which is more than what Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam could say. Neither seem to have a future under Brendan Rodgers.
Forwards – Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and the now-departed Scott Sinclair excited the crowds and quickened the pulse in a way Stewart Downing can only hope for. For £20 million, Liverpool got slightly less than they had hoped for. Luis Suarez is the perfect example of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and is the only touch of real class in Liverpool’s outfit. But Danny Graham and the rest of the Swansea forward line seem more settled and organized than Liverpool’s team, and are certainly less controversial.
I haven’t heard Swansea talked about as sleeping giants. And I haven’t heard them being spoken about as European challengers. But hint that Liverpool are a mid-table team and you may as well have said to a group of Yorkshiremen that T20 is better than the 3-day game, or that Don Bradman might have been a decent batsman.
(I should know this because I raised this point at a family gathering, and my grandpa overheard, looked at me dismissively, and said that he “weren’t much good, see. ‘E couldn’t play owt wit t’straight bat. ‘E were a reight slogger. Pah.”. When I talked about Swansea to my dad later, he gave me the exact same stare.)
Liverpool have a mid-table squad, as did Leeds, and the latter couldn’t get out of their mess. Liverpool fans will say that Raheem Sterling will get them out of trouble, and will be England’s Next Big Hope. Joe Cole was England’s Next Big Hope whilst at West Ham, and couldn’t save them from relegation. Alan Smith at Leeds was another.
Although it may be to early to say that Liverpool will be a dead cert for relegation, I’m just saying this. If they do go down in the next 5 years, I’m digging this out and re-posting it for all it’s worth.