Buoyed by their scalping of Everton, Shankly and the lads find themselves in the rarefied air at the top of the table in the first division. Just another day in the office.
"..and I've got nothing up my sleeves..." via news.bbcimg.co.uk
Just as Shanks hoped, the result against Everton became a launching pad as Liverpool struck an incredible vein of form and found themselves top of the table as the calendar turned from November to December. On the way to the summit of English football, LFC ran off four straight victories including claiming a notch against Busby's Manchester United. If there was a wonder as to how Liverpool might cope in their second year as members of the top flight, the lads made it clear that their intention was not merely to survive, but to win the lot.
Shankly, then, lays out the challenge to his Reds: be first at the end of the season. Be heroes.
Back on the field, training picks up and the intensity is as high as ever. Shankly goes through the exercises and leads the team through drills as a participant; the leading happens from the front at LFC. Again, we are reminded that if this team were to go down, it would not be for a lack of preparation.
Unfortunately, the push to win everything in sight takes a massive blow as the pressure of keeping the pace in the league and competing in the FA Cup send the squad into a miniature funk. A run of poor results drops LFC to third in the league with two months left to play. Worse still, the lads crash out of the Cup with a loss to second division also-rans Swansea Town.
One step forward, two steps backward. And the spoons and the forks once more start up their infernal dance inside of the gaffer's head.
- How impressive were the passages detailing Shanks in training? I know it's been covered in other chapters, but I think it's extremely enlightening in two ways. First, it underscores Shanks inability to sit still. Over and over, we've been introduced to this incessant motion in his life. However, that point is driven home rather strongly in this chapter as his restlessness is exhibited physically, emotionally and psychologically. Any thoughts as to why getting this across is imperative to Peace? The second reason is that Shanks ability to lead from on the pitch allows for a level of command that must not have been available to other managers of his day. Once more, the gifts unique to Shanks mark him as a man set apart.
- The passages that describes the FA Cup match had me riveted. Absolutely blown away with the "pressure is"/"pressure is not" bits thrown in between the game play. There's been some dissent over the stylistic tools employed by Peace throughout the book. However, I feel like this is one of those moments where staying with Peace not only pays off, I sense that it wouldn't have been possible without the long set up. For me? Worth it.
- Tried to put this off, but we were again given an overt hint as to some glimpse into Shanks psyche and, as the others, it wasn't all pretty. A quick Google search doesn't reveal a quick link to anything regarding a mental health struggle, so I'm loathe to bring it up, but the intentionality of the moments leads me to believe something ominous is coming. Anyone else sense it?