Mark Lawrenson: Liverpool’s season is like the good old days again

The Reds legend looks at a potentially historic run-in for the club, insisting Klopp doesn’t need to win something to justify the job he’s done at Anfield.

Comments

A lot has been said over the past few weeks about Liverpool not playing well. But you know what? From experience, the only thing you do at the end of the season in these games is win.

The Chelsea win was a Brucey bonus, with a fantastic goal from Mo Salah, and Liverpool playing extremely well.

But, even in the games where they’ve not been at their best, Jurgen Klopp won’t have been worried. He won’t be sitting there, analysing missed passes. It really is about just getting over the line.

I know managers can sound a bit boring when they say ‘we’re taking it one game at a time’, but it really is all about the next game. They don’t sit in their offices with a calculator saying ‘we’ll beat Cardiff, and City might draw with Tottenham’ and so on. They just chalk the results off.

The players don’t get caught up in it, either. As you know, they live in a bit of a bubble anyway, they won’t be following it on the news or social media. They just turn up, train, play, win, and repeat. That’s it. I can promise you they’re not sitting there doing the maths.

Besides, the beauty of the Premier League is that you never know. A bit of an off-key performance and you can get caught out. City have done it on a few occasions this year, which is most unusual, but it tells you everything you need to know about them that they’re in the position they are.

It’s cup football now all the way for Liverpool – even the league games. And you can make a case for them winning every match.

It would be fabulous to win the title, obviously, but Klopp’s remit at the start of the season from the Fenway Sports Group was Champions League qualification. They’ve got other sporting franchises, they know how it works, and they’ll know how outstanding Man City are.

Finishing second would be tough to take, but it wouldn’t undermine Klopp at all. He’s seriously improved every player at the club, which is a feat in itself. I remember, when he came to Liverpool, saying that a lot of the other teams in the league would be thinking they wished they’d got him. What you see is what you get with Jurgen.

He gets the football club, he gets the history.

Quite a few of the managers in the past have tried to play the history down, as if it weighed a little too heavy on their shoulders, and didn’t like having the former players around. But Klopp gets it.

Every time you go to the training ground, he laughs and says ‘here they are again, the winners’. He always stops for a chat and picks your brain about the club. He’s embraced it.

His job has been about more than winning this title. Though it’d be nice for him to win it, because every time he’s asked about not winning something with Liverpool, I’m sure he’s wanted to chin whoever’s asked it.

English teams at a disadvantage in Europe

This is definitely the strongest Premier League in history. The fact that Liverpool could finish second with the points haul they’ve got.

If you’d said last summer that a team would get 97 points but not win the league, you’d be carried away to the funny farm in a straitjacket.

It shows the quality of the division. Not just the top two, but the four clubs behind them. Every one of the top six is still in Europe, while fighting for the biggest prizes in the league.

This is down to Leicester winning the league when they did. That caused the big six to wake up, to have a rethink in terms of recruitment and so on, and it’s great for the Premier League.

As much as that is fantastic, though, don’t we want an English team to win the Champions League and Europa League? Because I do. But, the fixtures make it so difficult.

Barcelona at the weekend could rest ten players, write that match off. But United couldn’t against West Ham. While other countries have moved their teams’ games to Friday nights to help them prepare.

I understand that Super Sunday and Manic Monday and whatever else is important, but surely, we should try and get European winners as well. It’s what makes the Champions League the most difficult competition to win for an English team.

Liverpool should get past Porto – and set up ‘wow’ clash with Messi

Liverpool will get past Porto. I was at the home game, and Porto looked average, they couldn’t cope with the intensity of a top team.

You look at the Liverpool front three, and I think they’ll definitely get an away goal, which would make Porto’s task impossible.

Then you have to believe it would be Barcelona in the semis. That would be just ‘wow’. Having played in many European nights, they’re always fabulous, but that would be way, way up there, the game at Anfield.

Just the fact that it’s Lionel Messi, the greatest player ever born. But also, Luis Suarez would be coming back. That tie would be 50-50, but Klopp has an unbelievable record over two legs with Liverpool.

Just to be talking about this kind of achievement, it’s like the good old days again. Winning the league and/or Champions League would be another notch in history, it ratchets the club’s legacy up.

I know certain supporters would say it should be like this every season, but football has changed massively, and all of the top six can win things.

Find the latest football odds over at paddypower.com

What do you think?