Though the leaves haven't yet changed to dramatic colour where I live, my fellow Canadians and I are celebrating Thanksgiving today. Around this time last year, Liverpool FC were in joint first place in the league yet a sizable number of fans found a way to not feel any sort of appreciation for that fact. No one could have predicted how Liverpool would end the season, but early on we found a way to make ourselves miserable with being in first place. Imagine that!
It's mid-October and I still haven't looked at the Premier League table to see where Liverpool sit, but suffice it to say I'm certain many fans would trade last year's current table position for this year's (whatever it might be). We'd probably still find a way to be dissatisfied with our state of affairs, but a year's difference can provide a great deal of perspective on where we were, where we went, and where we might be going.
It is in this spirit that I once again offer up those things about Liverpool that I am thankful for, things that remain true regardless of where we are in the table or what our form is like.
A Memorable Title Run
Liverpool ultimately failed to earn Steven Gerrard the most elusive of honours, but the club's title run in the latter half of last season was the high point of the best season Liverpool fans had witnessed for many years. It wasn't just how close the club came to winning the league, but the sense of positivity, belief, and collegiality in and around the club that made that title run feel extra special. For long-time fans, it was a season unlike anything they'd experienced since the 1980s. For new fans, it was the first time they'd experienced a title run at all. Though Liverpool ultimately fell short, there was a hunger in the team that felt like it had been dormant for far too long.
Liverpool are in the midst of a team-wide injury crisis, due mostly to knocks and strains picked up on international duty. That Liverpool have so many players with quality enough for their national teams speaks highly of the squad, but so too does the fact that the sheer number of injuries Liverpool players are currently carrying hasn't yet reduced Brendan Rodgers to playing U21 players in at least half the starting eleven. Liverpool have been unfortunate in many positions, but the same number of injuries in those positions last season would have resulted in far scarier potential line-ups than what we currently experience.
Using the Past as a Springboard for the Future
Liverpool fans are often accused of living in the past, as most of the club's record-setting haul of silverware came during the 1970s and 1980s. The club have managed a handful of trophies in the last ten years, but with the Champions League win over AC Milan happening over nine years ago already, it's hard to feel as though there's been much success recently.
But last year's title run and the slow but steady building up of quality depth in the squad showed that there is investment from the team on behalf of the owners and faith in the manager to get the club back to where it once found itself regularly. There is often a sense of impatience at the speed in which this trajectory is unfolding, but with many rival fans and clubs expressing happiness at a club with Liverpool's history returning to Europe's top club competition, the club is laying the groundwork for staying there for the long run.
Just like last year, this is just the tip of the iceberg of things I am thankful for. Hendo hops, Daniel Sturridge's unrelenting positivity, Jose Enrique's social media game, Alberto Moreno's little chipmunk face, Adam Lallana's feet, Joe Allen's wee-ness, and all sorts of other things could make my list without question. What are you thankful for when it comes to Liverpool FC?
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