Did Liverpool really ?capitulate? in Premier League race?


In the wake of results in the premiership for the past two weeks, one word has been thrown about a lot- capitulate. Many are those that are of the opinion that Liverpool have capitulated over the last couple of weeks. But is that really the case?

In previewing the 2013/2014 season, there was somewhat a unanimous consensus among pundits and connoisseurs of the game that Liverpool would struggle to make a top 4 finish. So real was this opinion that finishing fourth was the target set by the hierarchy of the club. No mention of a title challenge. In fact, Sir Alex Ferguson in his autobiography had stated that Liverpool would require quality addition of ?six-eight players? before they could challenge. He didn?t even consider the current crop of Liverpool players as having that much quality when he said ?Gerrard is not a top top player? and the signing of Daniel Sturridge is a ?gamble?. Probably, the only quality in the team was Luis Su?rez?who seemed to have other plans. He wanted out. He started by accusing the British press of witch hunting and said he and his family didn?t feel comfortable in an environment where his talent was overlooked for his misdemeanours. This came at the back of the bashing he received for his senseless bite on?Branislav Ivanovi?, which had rightly earned him a 10-game ban. When that trick didn?t work, he turned to his manager and accused him of reneging on a promise to allow him leave for Champions League football should Liverpool fail to qualify for the competition.


To the credit of Brendan Rodgers and the Liverpool hierarchy, they were able to keep Su?rez- a decision that was questioned by many pundits. Why keep an unhappy player, they asked. I guess that question has been answered by now. But that was just one of their pre-season troubles. In the transfer market, a combination of lack of Champions League football and financial muscle ensured that they lost out on their prime transfer targets like Henrikh Mhkyitaryan, Willian, Diego Costa, Cristian Eriksen and Kyriakos Papadopoulos. The summer transfer activity started with the free transfer of Kolo Toure and ended with the transfer deadline acquisition of Victor Moses (on loan from Chelsea), Tiago Ilori and Mamadou Sahko. Fans yearning for ?marquee signing? were left disappointed. Elsewhere, the return of “The Special One” to where he is ?loved? had made him “The Happy One” and Stamford Bridge was buzzing. He went straight into the transfer market and his only failure was his inability to bring Rooney to London. But the capture of Willian, Andr? Sch?rrle, Samuel Eto?o and Christian Atsu meant he had a fairly good transfer season. Meanwhile, Spurs were busily spending the amount made from the fleecing of Real Madrid in the Bale transfer. Acquisitions of Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Vlad Chiriche?, ?tienne?Capoue and Cristian Eriksen meant that they could be considered title contenders. Manchester City were also on a spending spree of their own and after bringing in “The Engineer,” Manuel Pellegrini from Spain, they backed him with the transfers of Stevan Joveti?, Mart?n Demichelis?and ?lvaro?Negredo. Arsenal had broken the club?s transfer record and brought in Europe?s top assist provider for 2 years running to the Emirates, Mesut ?zil?. So clearly, from events described above, Liverpool started the season on the back foot.

On August 17, Liverpool had to start life without their previous season?s top scorer due to suspension- a situation that will remain same for the next four games. In the first 5 games without Luis Su?rez, Liverpool managed 3 scrappy 1-0 wins, a draw at Newcastle and a disappointing defeat at home to Southampton. Meanwhile, at the Etihad, goals had been flowing with delighting rapidity. At the Emirates, ?zil?didn?t take much time to announce his presence in the premiership and his status as a top assist provider was reaffirmed. Through the first 4 months of the season, the league was shaping up into a 3-horse race. An assertion Jos? Mourinho?will disagree with. He rather saw it as a 2-horse race with a little horse running along. In all this horse race matter, no mention was made of Liverpool.

By the 25th of December, Liverpool found themselves on top of the league table. But rather unsurprisingly to some pundits, they found themselves in 4th place by new year?s day after successive defeats to City and Chelsea. At that time, there were no conversations centered on ?capitulation?. It was rather a case of D?j? vu.

The club picked itself up and started the new calender year with an unconvincing win at home to Hull City. But the next month will see them drop valuable points against West Bromwich and Aston Villa. By March, optimistic fans of the club started believing and after their win at United, they sang ?now you will believe us?, ?we will win it?. By the beginning of April, the club had its own destiny in its own hands. Win all your matches and you are champions. They went on an incredible 11-match winning streak. Prior to meeting Chelsea at Anfield, Sunderland had done them a favour by taking valuable points off title rivals City and Chelsea. They didn?t need to win their remaining 3 matches to win the league. A draw and 2 wins will see them crowned champions for the first time in 24 years. Unfortunately, that wasn?t to be- at least for now. They painfully lost at home to Chelsea and saw their 3-goal lead cancelled with 11 minutes to full time at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace. These results all but ended their title dreams.

Admittedly, Liverpool got themselves into a position where they should have won the league, but so have Chelsea, City and Arsenal in the course of the season. To use the term ?capitulate?, my candid opinion is that it should be done in context. One should look at the expectation(s) at the beginning of the season to come to such a conclusion.

Liverpool fans will be a wee bit disappointed should they not win the league, but I doubt they will be gutted. The players and coaching staff will be proud of what they have done this season and the fans will be grateful for making them dream. With this performance, the expectations to improve will be high. Probably, with the right investment in terms of player transfers this summer, Liverpool can give the right context for those who want to use the word ?capitulate? next season. I have no doubt at all in my mind that they will step up to the plate and in the words of Steven Gerrard ?go again? next season.


Source: GhanaFans.com

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