Souness, one of the best Liverpool midfield players in the 80s, has criticised the present Liverpool establishment. The team has been accused of not being able to step up and perform against the lower end teams of the Premier League table. The allegations are called for, given the Merseyside side’s record against teams apart from the top six.
“They play well against the big guys and slip up against the lesser lights. When I played for Liverpool, Manchester United were like Liverpool are now.”
The United of the 80s:
In the late 70s and the 80s, United were one of the better teams in England. At the same time, they were not able to establish themselves as the dominant force which they were totally capable of. The team somehow failed to avoid loose ends and bottled during the crucial stages of the season. The team was on the verge of being managed by a little known Scottish manager Alex Ferguson, who would go on to become arguably the world’s best football manager.
One problem facing United in specific was their performance against the lower end teams of the League. Against the bigger and stronger teams, United would play like lions. They would not be able to re-create the same performances against the smaller teams, though. Inability to finish off games which they should have led to them never being able to win the League consistently. Hence, Souness’ comparison is valid given the present Liverpool performances.
Klopp came to Liverpool at a time when the team had come close to winning the League yet slipped at the last moment. Klopp brought with him hope and optimism, that Liverpool can reach the zenith again. Though his first season wasn’t anything radically different, people suggested he should be tested after a transfer window. He brought in the likes of Wijnaldum and Mane, who contributed to his heavy metal football. He deployed Gegenpressing with perfection, as Liverpool became the highest scoring team in England.
“If you are going to win this league, that’s something you have to get right. We were constantly reminded of that at Liverpool when we were either European champions or defending league champions.”- Sounnes
One of the main problems with Liverpool has been that they have not been able to beat the lower end teams with the same ease. They haven’t lost a single game to the top six clubs, with their Merseyside rivals Everton as well. At the same time, they have dropped points playing teams placed below them on the table. That is why they presently sit fourth, having played two games extra.