In 2009, after a famous 1-0 Champions League win at Real Madrid, Liverpool were officially the top-ranked club in Europe. On Thursday night they drew 1-1 at Anfield with a side who finished seventh in the Swiss Super League last season.
So, erm, it seems, erm, the perfect time to list five reasons why Liverpool fans have cause for optimism.
Wish me luck…..
- Daniel Sturridge. With his double strike in the 3-2 win over Aston Villa taking him to 37 goals in 57 starts (that’s 0.65 goals per game), Sturridge is officially Liverpool’s most prolific scorer in the Premier League era. That’s not bad when you’re going up against the likes of Luis Suarez (0.63) and Fernando Torres (0.64). At any level of football, strikers can mask a multitude of sins (e.g. conceding twice at home to Villa) and the England frontman is the one who can do it for Brendan Rodgers. The good news for Liverpool is that, after numerous injury lay-offs, their deadliest striker of the modern era is currently alive and well and scoring. For now.
- Mamadou Sakho. Brendan does lots of things that baffle Liverpool supporters. Top of the baffling list at the start of the season was his insistence that Dejan Lovren was a better defender than Mamadou Sakho. The astonishment subsided to some extent when the Reds opened the season with three clean sheets but Lovren was soon up to his own tricks in the miserable 3-0 home loss to West Ham. Sakho’s man-of-the-match display (as captain) on his return to the side against Bordeaux in the Europa League prompted a cacophony of ‘I told you so’s’ and now the French defender – who has just been recalled to the national side by Didier Deschamps – is set for an extended run in the side with Lovren out injured.
- Danny Ings. A good solution when you get into that vicious circle of a team falling into a rut and a crowd – sapped of goodwill – not being arsed to lift them, is having a scamperer. Someone who will chase around, look busy, hustle and generally look as if he could give a sh*t. In Liverpool’s case, an anti-Balotelli. If that player can knock in a few goals as well, you’ve got something. Step forward Danny Ings. Okay, two goals in seven isn’t Daniel Sturridge (note use of current LFC player to highlight excellence) levels but he’s come off the bench in three of those and had a tidy finish ruled out for offside against Sion. Liverpool were once famous for creating stars out of hungry players who honed their careers in unheralded surroundings. Ings, a self-confessed disciple of GB cycling’s ‘marginal gains’ philosophy, could turn into a modern example.
- Philippe Coutinho. We all need a little love in our lives. And while Sturridge and, to a lesser extent, Sakho and Ings are admired, it’s only the “little magician” that really makes LFC fans go all tingly. Philippe Coutinho is a sexy man. He has lovely hair, caresses the g-spot on a football with his lovely feet (this analogy has gone a bit fetishy) but when the mood is right (0-0 with five minutes to go), he isn’t afraid to give it a right good humping – witness those orgasmic strikes against Stoke, Bolton and Southampton. He even sweet-talked fellow Brazilian Roberto Firmino into joining Liverpool and, one day, that might be a good thing.
- The Anfield stadium expansion. If things stay on schedule, Liverpool will kick off the 2016/17 season with an extra 9,000 fans welcoming Jurgen Klopp’s side onto the pitch. Golden Boot winner Daniel Sturridge will wave to the 54,000 crowd as new Kop hero Paul Pogba laughs at the huge flag in the Kop asking ‘Steven Who?’. Okay, this has become a flight of fancy but the stadium expansion is a fact and the extra revenue will at least help Liverpool compete financially with their Premier League rivals. Capacity will eventually rise to just under 60,000. So, if it all works out, Liverpool get back into the Champions League, sign all those players who watched the 2005 final in Istanbul at an impressionable age, and then go on to win the Premier League for the first time since 1990 as Chelsea and Man City get bored and Man Utd lose Anthony Martial to Real Madrid.