Soccer / gary neville
Neville's Advice to Klopp Shows a Lack of Perspective
I've taken a coupe of days to digest what Gary Neville had to say about Liverpool's Champions League campaign this year. When you support a sports club, it's easy to immediately swipe back at anything you perceive to be criticism, but there can often be elements of truth to reflect on. For those of you not up to date, Neville claimed prior to the Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool game that: The Champions League — if I was Liverpool, I would kick it into touch. I know that’s very hard to do but if they could go into February, March, April without it, I think they could have a real chance if they had free weeks. (source) Let's break that down quickly. Neville is suggesting that Liverpool would have a better chance at winning the Premier League if they didn't care about the Champions League this season. Ultimately, what he's alluding to here is that Liverpool should rest first team players in the Champions League games, and play the squad and youth players instead. Source Is Neville Right? I'm going to give my opinion as a Liverpool supporter shortly, but I want to first analyse Neville's comments from a purely footballing perspective. Liverpool have started the Premier League season extremely well, winning the first 5 games, and beating top 4 rivals Tottenham Hostpur along the way. Yes, it's early days, but as things stand, Liverpool are being mentioned alongside Manchester City and Chelsea as serious title contenders. One of the issues Liverpool have struggled with in recent times is a serious lack of squad depth. We've had some great players in the first team, but have been hindered significantly if those players have suffered injuries or felt tired. When you're forced to play a 'first eleven' every week due to this lack of squad depth, you risk running out of gas. Neville is right insomuch that it's clear that Liverpool would stand a better chance of winning the Premier League if they forgot about other competitions. The front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah would be able to play a game at the weekend and then rest for an entire week before having to play again. When you can do this, your players are able to give 100% in every game. The difficulty of playing in multiple competitions is that you don't have the luxury of full recovery time. Teams playing in the Champions League will have to play at the weekend and midweek. We saw Liverpool win against Tottenham on Saturday, but the team will also play a massively important game against PSG on Tuesday. When you take match preparation and training into account, you're looking at a game on Saturday, rest on Sunday, training on Monday, and then another game on Tuesday. Do that for enough weeks in a row and it's inevitable that fatigue will set in. And what happens when fatigue sets in? Well, you're less likely to put in performances worthy of wins. And herein lies the problem. Gary Neville is right. Liverpool would stand a better chance of winning the Premier League if Jurgen Klopp decided to forget the Champions League this season. But there's much more to it than that. Source Supporter Perspective I can only speak for myself, but something doesn't sit right with me about neglecting an opportunity to win a trophy. As a supporter of Liverpool, I want to see the club be as successful as possible, and I believe that requires 100% effort in every game. The onus is on the owners to make sure the manager has enough squad depth to be able to compete in multiple competitions. Rotation is inevitable, but if your back up is good enough, then there's no real need to worry about any of this. Jurgen Klopp is renowned for squad rotation. Already this season we've seen players coming in and out of the squad when he feels it is necessary. This is especially the case in midfield with multiple players competing for places. Henderson, Milner, Wijnaldum, Keita, Lallana, Fabinho, and Shaqiri are all capable of playing roles in the team, and we haven't even included Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is currently injured. Brendan Rodgers Having spent three seasons out of the Champions League, I was overjoyed that we would be playing in the competition again in the 2014/15 season. Massive games under the lights of the stadiums are my favourite moments in football. That year, we were drawn to play against Real Madrid. It doesn't get any better than that. The excitement of putting out your best team and saying, 'Come on then, let's see what you've really got!'. However, I was left feeling furious when Brendan Rodgers decided to play one of the worst Liverpool teams I've ever seen against Real Madrid. This was the team he put out that night: Mignolet; Manquillo, Toure, Skrtel, Moreno; Lucas, Can, Allen; Lallana, Markovic, Borini On the substitute bench were names like Johnson, Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling, and even Balotelli. This was not acceptable, and I've never forgiven him for it. As supporters, we spent years dreaming of playing in the world's biggest competition again and that's what we get for our wait? It was at that moment that I knew Brendan Rodgers wasn't the manager to lead Liverpool. Cold, Rainy Nights Let's get one thing straight. I would support Liverpool no matter what happens. I love the club. They could get relegated to the lowest league and I'd still turn up on a Saturday with my red scarf, ready to cheer on the team. However, I believe the club needs to respect the efforts that supporters go to in order to actually support their team. A couple of years back, I found myself rushing after work to catch a train to Liverpool in wet and cold conditions just to watch the team play against Augsburg on a Thursday night in the Europa League. It's a privilege to support this team, but I think we can all agree that this game isn't as appealing as a big Champions League match. Yet, we turn up, pay a lot of money, and support the team through thick and thin. The dream? To get back to the Champions League and show the world we're one of the best teams in Europe. To then reach that goal and take it for granted would show a lack of respect for the supporters that had the club's back throughout less enjoyable times. Desperation The final consideration I want to make relates to the desperation felt within the Liverpool support to go out and win something. Anything. Liverpool are a household name because our club has an incredible history. And while that history is something to be proud of, it's something the newer generations have not experienced. I was three years old the last time Liverpool won the league, and I sit here typing this post as a 30 year old man. I have been lucky enough to see my team lift multiple trophies, including one of the most unforgettable Champions League victories in 2004/05. However, wins have been scarce for Liverpool over the last decade, with our most recent victory being the League Cup in 2012. It's not good enough, and we can't afford to turn our noses up at any opportunity to add trophies to our amazing trophy room. I understand that Klopp may need to rest players from time to time, and use rotation to keep players fit and healthy, but I want to see us trying to win every competition we're in. The Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, and League Cup. I want it all.