Is resilience Liverpool's number one asset?
Background Image Via: Wikimedia Commons/Ruaraidh Gillies. CC BY-SA 2.0.
Liverpool's maiden title during the Premier League era is now a formality. Jurgen Klopp's men haven't let last year's heartbreak bog them down. Instead, the Red Men have come out swinging fiercer than ever. We're twenty-seven games into the season. They're still unbeaten.
In fact, the only team to take points off Liverpool this term are Manchester United and even then, it can be argued Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Red Devils side were lucky to come away from Old Trafford with a draw that day. Yesterday's encounter against another United, West Ham, looked like a potential stumbling block for the Anfield outfit.
Liverpool found themselves 2-1 down at home, with 25 minutes left on the clock. Did anyone expect anything else other than another three points for Klopp and co? The Kop End would roar their heroes home, restoring their twenty-two(!) point lead atop the table. In all honesty, it was never in doubt.
You can have all the world-class players your heart can desire and it doesn't always guarantee success. You look at that star-studded Paris Saint-Germain team who are desperate to make an impact in the Champions League as the prime example. There needs to be a hunger, a craving, a determination to win. Liverpool has that in abundance. It's what makes them so good.
Resilience. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. Klopp has instilled an elite-level mentality within that dressing room. Liverpool never knows when they're beaten. For the majority, it's easier to just wilt under the pressure. Instead, this squad rises to the occasion. These players want to stand up and be counted. It was on display countless times during last season's unbelievable Champions League run. It's easy to forget that their progression from the group stage hung in the balance until the final game against Napoli, while they were down 3-0 from the first-leg against Liverpool. The rest, as they say, is history. Reds fans won't let you forget it, either. I've lost count on how many times I've seen *that* .GIF of Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick-thinking.
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino make up arguably the deadliest trio in the business right now in terms of sheer talent. They're not just flashy, fluid forwards, though. They're all hard-workers who epitomise the Liverpool way. If you don't buy into this 'all for one' mantra, there's simply no room for you. It's this tight-knit connection where this energy, vigour and mental toughness was formed. It stems from the top.
You make your own luck. It's no coincidence that some of the greatest sides in our generation have constantly scored late goals. Sir Alex Ferguson's United were the masters at it, while Manchester City scored some huge goals several times late in games as they staved off Liverpool to win the title last time around. As long as everyone is pulling in the same direction, you're never fully out of it.
Klopp is a tactical genius. His 'gegenpressing' has revolutionised football as we know it, though the heart, belief and attitude he has instilled into this squad trumps all. You look at players like Jordan Henderson, who was on the verge of leaving Liverpool before the German arrived. He's now amongst the frontrunners to win the Premier League's Player of the Season Award. The Englishman isn't a quitter, it's not in his DNA. It's why he's flourishing under the current regime and why he'll continue to do so for years to come.
Simply put, it's tough not to admire what this Liverpool team have done. It feels weird to say it, but at times this season, they've not even been *that* impressive. They just know how to win, which continues to be the perfect equaliser for Liverpool Football Club... They deserve huge praise for that.