Among the more stirring images of the early season that aren't profile pictures of Jordan Henderson's perfect hair are the celebration shots after each of Daniel Sturridge's three match-winning goals in the Premier League. Two at Anfield, one at Villa Park, and all involving each and every member of the outfield squad. Simon Mignolet can be seen in mid-leap for at least two as well, nicely rounding off a scene that indicates this Liverpool squad are among the more cohesive we've seen in recent seasons.
That's evidently not just a romantic notion drummed up by supporters, as Kolo Toure has identified that this Liverpool group are all on the same page when it comes their aims:
"It's key. With team spirit, you can win anything. Individuals are very important, but team spirit is the key - it is the most important thing. Individuals can win you one game, but to win trophies or be champions it is [down to] a group of players. If you want to be successful, you need to work as a team. That is really, really important because we are a group of players and we have the same target - to win trophies and do as well as we can.
"When you don't play, you need to support the team and your teammates need to feel that you are behind them fully. The lads played a great game. I was off the pitch and really wanted to help them, but I couldn't. Skrtel had a fantastic game and we worked as a team really, really well. That is great for the team spirit of the group."
It would easy to write this off as fluff; it likely is just that, after all, but it also rings more true in this season than any other in recent memory aside from the spring of 2011 under Kenny Dalglish. Then it was the club united by the relief of new ownership, the dismissal of Roy Hodgson, and the return of the King spurring the side along to their best form in years, but that spell was a distant memory by the time a disastrous summer transfer window was said and done.
Those few months aside, Liverpool have been a fractured club, and while we long bemoaned constant talk of how off-field matters might influence things on the pitch, with hindsight--and a club that's finally starting to look stable from top to bottom--it's easy to see just how much of a toll the ongoing struggles and subsequent farces took. Unprecedented managerial turnover, wasted money, ruptures in the fanbase, lack of quality in the squad. Take your pick.
Those struggles aren't necessarily a thing of the past, and concerns of a different sort will no doubt pop up at some point. But the team spirit Toure identifies doesn't seem to be unique to just the playing squad, as Liverpool are, for the first time in far too long, conducting themselves in a competent, cohesive manner. It's fun to attribute it to Toure's eminently likable presence, but most important is that the foundation is finally stable, allowing for Liverpool to move forward as a group for the first time in far too long.