Prioritise This

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By David Rice @davidjrice83

It doesn’t matter where you go. Grab a beer with your friends, stay home and turn on the TV or click around the internet. If you’re interacting with content about the Reds, it seems there is bound to be someone talking about priorities.

Yesterday it was a fellow Red telling me we should flush the Champions League to win the league. As if jibbing off one will guarantee success in the other.

Today it was a Manc supporter in a common forum talking to me about how City, a team fighting on four fronts, is nipping at our heels and will ultimately overcome and devour us because we can’t handle competing in two competitions.

This notion is fuelled by our own narratives if we’re honest. There were a great many of us in Liverpool supporting circles that couldn’t be bothered with the domestic cups. Our elimination from them was a blessing and would provide us with much needed relief from an otherwise crowded fixture calendar.

That all made sense, and I still stand by the logic. But I suppose I’d have to be pretty daft to not understand that the mentality which suggests Liverpool can’t compete in four competitions has berthed a similar line of reasoning that says the Reds now have to prioritise only one of the game’s two biggest prizes.

But no, it’s here where I part with the notion. Call me entitled, call me crazy. The fact is, the squad is big enough and healthy enough to continue the pursuit of a major trophy regardless of what shape it comes in. The calendar is friendly enough toward Liverpool’s ambitions and the supporters are up for it as much as ever.

This isn’t an ancient corn harvest; no sacrifice is needed. We don’t have to offer up our ambitions for one shiny prize to the football Gods to ensure a fruitful pursuit of another.

And if you’re going to apply that logic to us, do it across the spectrum, regardless of whatever depth our rivals may boast. Let me hear that United will have to choose between the FA Cup and fourth. Let me hear that Tottenham will have to throw everything at Europe or run the table in the league, because the universe will not allow both. City, surely, must sacrifice one of their four pursuits. The greatest team ever conceived they may turn out to be, but when was the last quadruple you saw? No, they’ll have to concede one, right?

The answer is, of course, no. They don’t and if you spread any sort of “you can’t win them all” notion in Pep Guardiola’s press room or training ground, he’ll rightly laugh you out of it. So we should do the same to those who say we can’t win what is left in front of us.

The idea that Liverpool can’t maintain a high level due to the volume of their workload over the remainder of the season fails to take into account that late January and mid-February have largely been a winter break for the Reds. Two warm weather training camps, two heavy rest periods. The idea that this team won’t have the gas for the run in but had the gas to get to this point is a bit of insult to their professionalism and the adjustments that Klopp has made to the larger philosophy this campaign.

Some among us have bemoaned the lack of typical Klopp heavy metal football this season. That’s not a lack of skill from the players or even form, it’s been a conscious effort to take a different approach than years past. Sir Alex Ferguson once said that Liverpool can’t play the typical Klopp way for an entire season, that a squad will struggle with injuries and fatigue playing an intense pressing style for an entire campaign.

This season, the tactics have been more flexible and nuanced and as a result, the performances have followed suit. I don’t see this changing for the final run in. The way January and February have played out have set up the Reds for a big Spring.

March, April, May. Three months, two pursuits and all the fire in our bellies we can muster.

In the end, we may emerge with nothing. But this is Liverpool FC. This is the work of European Royalty. There will be no short changing one effort for the other. We go for everything, we get what we get. No regrets, no second guessing, just a three month push for greatness. We asked them to make us dream. This is what dreams are made of.

By David Rice @davidjrice83


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