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Evolution, Not Revolution

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There's a curious new reality for fans of Liverpool Football Club. The manager and his youthful charges seem to be genuinely on the cusp of a long period of sustained success and it's making us, well, uneasy. Where's the old familiar angst?

Midway through the second half, Jurgen blew an earnest kiss to fellow ball cap enthusiast, Tony Pulis.
Midway through the second half, Jurgen blew an earnest kiss to fellow ball cap enthusiast, Tony Pulis.
Clint Hughes

We've reached a strange juncture in our Liverpool supporting lives, my friends. Expectation has been justifiably heightened and a beautiful giddy optimism has become more deeply ingrained than the old familiar pessimism that haunted recent years. The world-weary cynicism we once drew around us as a coldly comforting security blanket has been tentatively shrugged off as we dare to dream of a future whose glory may match our august history -- a legacy that has served as much to intimidate as to inspire the sides of recent years. Our perception of who we are as a club is very slowly metamorphosing and there is a growing belief that Brendan Rodgers' young side can create a new world order with Liverpool proudly at its apogee.

Where has this hopeful buoyancy come from? Haven't the club lost one of the world's best just as they return to their European perch? Haven't they singularly failed to replace said player with another of similar stature? Didn't glory slip away at the death last campaign? Isn't it fair to say that all Liverpool's rivals have strengthened considerably in advance of the season to come? So, where in the hell has all this excitement and hope come from? Have we finally taken leave of our senses? Well, no. No, we haven't.

As we watched the Redmen tear Manchester United apart in the first half of the final game of the US tour and as we gloried in the gleeful dismantling of a decent, if considerably weakened, Borussia Dortmund on Sunday, something was becoming increasingly and pleasingly clear. Liverpool are about more than just Luis Suárez. No one player defines this side. There is a philosophy, a blueprint, an ideal to which the team and its coach adhere. This is not some esoteric concept of how the game should be played, some recherché notion that is merely aspired to. It is a return to the core ideal on which the club's great era was founded -- the unnervingly, deceptively simple concept of pass-and-move football. It is concrete, not ethereal and in Brendan Rodgers the club have found a man with the charisma to espouse the obvious with a fervent and evangelical zeal.

As we reveled in the glorious one-touch football which saw the likes of Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling consistently scythe through defences with joyous alacrity, it began to be clear that this is an ongoing evolution. Under the watchful gaze of the 41 year old Antrim man, Liverpool Football Club is starting to reascend to the upper echelons. This process may not continue at the stunning rate it has begun, and to expect that would likely be overly optimistic folly, but the signs are undeniable and the foundations are clearly being laid. Let us be clear, there is no trace of hubris in these words. This group of Rodgers' has earned the acclaim they have begun to accrue.

The most recent high profile admirer of Liverpool's progress is Jurgen Klopp, the highly rated coach of Borussia Dortmund. The German seemed to massively enjoy his trip to Anfield, and indeed he and many of his players seemed to view it as a kind of pilgrimage, drinking in the atmosphere of the occasion and adding to the unique bonhomie of the occasion. Klopp, a two-time winner of the Bundesliga, is well placed to comment on the development of this Liverpool side under Rodgers and FSG and was a reputed target for the Americans before they appointed the Carnlough native.

"It's a great club and they did well last year," the Dortmund boss averred. "I saw it. I saw what they can do against us. It was the wrong time to play them. If you make the right decisions after you miss you can be stronger. Maybe Liverpool this year is the big team in the Premier League. They can be stronger for sure."

Having lost many of his high profile stars himself, the bearded cap-fancier is no stranger to the predicament Rodgers currently faces and he was reassuring about the impact the absence of Suarez may have.

"It seems to be no problem! They have a plan maybe, but I don’t know. We did what we did. When we started we tried to create football moments that will hopefully be more successful than the past. We didn’t think about what happened in the past, just how we can develop the team. That’s what we do all the time."

Rodgers, acknowledged as a "good manager" by his German counterpart, will look to create many successful and joyous "football moments" with his own ever-evolving squad and if ever there was a fine example to follow on how to succeed in the face of more financially potent rivals, it is that set by Die Schwarzgelben and their innovative coach. Like the potential of the likes of Sterling, Coutinho and new recruit Lazar Markovic, there is no ceiling on what Liverpool can achieve in the seasons to come.

As the traditionally angst-ridden final weeks of the transfer window disappear, there has seemed to be an unedifying return to the negativity and fear that plagued the past, but now is not the time for morose introspection. Like Rodgers and his group of wonderful technicians, we must have the courage of our convictions; the bravery to be hopeful. If the last twenty months or so have taught us anything, it's that it is okay to be happy again, to luxuriate in the joy that this team can create for us and to bask in its achievement. There may not be an immediate flow of silverware, but by Fowler, the journey back to that consistent success we all crave will be a blithesome treat.