The theme since Jürgen Klopp took over at Liverpool has been The Team. The Team wins together. The Team pulls itself through the rough patches together. The Team never stops. The Team builds it’s confidence with team performances. And we’ve heard this ethos coming from more and more of the players this season, too. This time it’s from Gini Wijnaldum who wants us all to know that he’s proud of his team, the whole team, and not just Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané.
“They are really good,” said Gini. “Sometimes, you know, they get the credit because they are scoring the goals and make it really difficult for teams, but there are more players who help them to accelerate so they can perform, and a lot of people forget that others do the dirty work so they can attack.
“So as a team, a collective, everybody does it good rather than only speaking about those three.
“Of course they are wonderful. But I think Liverpool is more than Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah.”
And Gini is right. A whole lot of important stuff happens in the midfield and defense that keeps this Liverpool side purring. Wijnaldum himself puts in a good amount of work winning back possession and releasing the forward players. Andy Robertson has been fabulously good at left back all season. And, of course, the list goes on.
But Wijnaldum specifically wanted to highlight his partners in the back whose defensive accomplishments he’s particularly proud of this season.
“You need people at the sharp end,” Gini said, “but this season the back line has had a lot of criticism, but also a lot of times they have done well for us.
“There have been times when we didn’t play well but they saved us in games.
“There is no one who speaks about that because the front three, or the players up front, score the goals and we win. But I think that the defenders also did a good job, so it is something we must not forget.”
Some will claim it’s sour grapes from the Liverpool midfielder to turn his back on the glory that is the attacking three. But his words play to me more as Gini wanting to see The Team uplifted together, for supporters to recognize the efforts of all the players who have improved this Liverpool side.
We needed a response after losing to Manchester United and The Team provided it in spades against Watford. Wijnaldum was a strong and very effective presence that contributed to that response. And while Salah was certainly the Very Important Person of the day, there were quite a few other strong and effective presences in a Liverpool shirt that contributed to the performance as well.
Now, the next amazing feat of the The Team must be to return from the international break fully intact and fully strapped with that new Liverpool confidence. Big Finish.