There's still a sense of discomfort when talking about Liverpool's success this season--mentioning it too plainly might disrupt the momentum, or jinx them for the run-in, or, quite possibly, create a wormhole in which none of the last eight months were real and Liverpool are actually still lining up with Milan Jovanovic on the flank, David Ngog up top, Joe Cole...anywhere, Christian Poulsen in midfield, and Phillipp Degen and Andrea Dossena as fullbacks. So yeah, maybe don't go talking about success.
Only we kind of have to at this point, as Liverpool are second with only ten matches left to play and playing some of the best football in the Premier League; Manchester City will likely overtake Brendan Rodgers' squad once they play their two games in hand, but there's a growing sense that Liverpool are finally headed in the right direction after four seasons lost at sea.
For Rodgers, the style is an important part of that, but it's only meaningful if it gives way to the types of success Liverpool were accustomed to in seasons past:
"We have gone from a team that was looking to put a style of football in place, a high-energy, high-tempo attacking team. I think it's recognised now that we have been one of the most exciting teams in the country to watch, but we want to have success alongside that. Success for us is to get into the Champions League. But we want, eventually, over the next 18 months, to be challenging with the squad on the trophy front, both in terms of the Premier League and the other trophies.
"This first 18 months has been about implementing and introducing a lot of ideas. Hopefully people are starting to see that bear fruit.The next 18 months is about developing and enhancing that, and hopefully we can do that."
There's still changes that need to take place--quality depth, for one--in order for Liverpool to truly challenge on multiple fronts, but they've shown this season that their first eleven can be as good as anyone's, and with only the Premier League to focus on, it's allowed for their best campaign in years. Whether or not they can sustain it over the next two months remains to be seen, but we can't deny that at the present moment, the type of success Rodgers mentions doesn't feel too far off.
The challenge now is acknowledging those ambitions without losing sight of more immediate demands, which this week includes a visit to Old Trafford in the type of match those challenging for trophies should expect to win.