As the famous saying goes, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. It is a testament to the triumph of the team over the individual; to the success of unity and camaraderie over ego and self-worth. It singles out the concept of value and argues a new notion: that true merit is achieved through cooperation, not through the talents of a prodigy.
Like the subtle tones of an orchestra playing together, Liverpool achieved this harmony on Sunday. There was no room for flair or arrogance. Every player had a job to do, and whilst it may have meant that the individual was denied the opportunity to stand out, by pulling in the same direction it meant that the team as a whole rose above the competition, coming away with a victory that will live long in the memory for a multitude of reasons.
In the wake of the multi-million pound purchases that had saturated the recent memory, and with the concept of buying success at the forefront of everyone’s minds, the way Sunday’s clash between two clubs – one ‘big’ and one not – unfolded provides real food for thought. Both clubs had spent in excess of fifty million pounds in the final moments of the transfer window, but only one was afforded the luxury of flaunting their new acquisitions. So whilst Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez didn’t make their way onto the pitch at Stamford Bridge – the latter watching the game from the bench – both David Luiz and, of course, Fernando Torres did.
Under any other circumstances one would think this landslide of wealth would tip the balance firmly in Chelsea’s favour. Ironically, it did not. A determined team performance from Liverpool came at the most perfect time imaginable as they combined skill and spirit to ensure a hugely memorable victory against the champions away from home. The victory’s significance is multiplied by the fact that it also ensured a league double against Chelsea this season, as well as providing the reds with their fourth victory – and fourth clean sheet – in a row.
Most importantly, though, the absence of Liverpool’s two new signings shows the quality that the squad has possessed all along. The idea that the reds were able to pull off such an incredible victory even without their talents provides a firm message of optimism to the fans, and an altogether different message to a certain individual.
And with those expensive megadeals in mind, it almost brings a new meaning to my previous use of that fateful word ‘priceless’.
Many may disagree, but success cannot be bought – at least, not outright. Talent must be present at a club to achieve success, but financial backing just makes the process of finding top players quicker and easier. It’s helpful, but not essential. Regardless, even with the most skilful players in place a variety of traits are required – tactical insight, confidence and, above all, spirit – in order to progress. Without the right combination of these, the individual talents of any given player are all but wasted. But when they come together perfectly, luck seems to smile on the fortunate recipient, and success – in its many different forms – is often the only outcome.
Sunday’s result proved more than anything that, contrary to the belief that has pervaded the fans and media alike for much of this season so far, Liverpool do currently have a capable and talented squad. Without doubt, they are far better than the season’s earlier results lets on, and the ever-increasing strength and character they have shown in their performances under Dalglish highlights this. It wasn’t a lack of skill that saw Liverpool sink so far in the first half of the season – it was mismanagement. The tactical insight was missing, and when one of the key ingredients to success vanishes, the ensuing domino effect wipes out the rest. Liverpool’s confidence and, in turn, spirit disappeared. But the talent was always there.
Dalglish’s return restored all three of these traits to the club in one fell swoop, rejuvenating almost every aspect of the club. It’s undeniable that no man deserves more credit for the reds’ recent revival than the King. And whilst it seems a little counterintuitive to reduce Liverpool’s newfound potential for success to an individual, perhaps in this case we can make a bit of an exception. Just this once.
The reds’ current position may leave people scratching their heads and wondering what all the fuss was about just a few months ago, when reaching the European spots seemed nothing more than a fantasy. Obviously it’s easier to look back without worry in hindsight, but when Liverpool lay in the bottom half of the table, many saw it as a prophecy of doom. The end was near. The team had self-destructed. The club may as well have folded.
It’s over the top, of course, but these exaggerations reflect the opinion that the club had found itself edging closer and closer towards a real downfall. Somewhat ironically, one of the main fears not so long ago in those dark days was that the club’s poor position was counting down to the exit of the team’s star players. Unless things improved, the general consensus was that Liverpool wouldn’t be able to hang onto the likes of Fernando Torres. And without him, people reasoned, what future was there to look forward to?
That nightmare very swiftly became a reality but it has, in truth, left the club looking better than ever. It’s like waking up from a dream and realising things are back to normal, that everything’s fine again. All of a sudden the team looks more unified, morale is high and there is a sense of energy and determination flowing through Anfield that simply wasn’t there before.
Optimism has returned to the fans and players alike, and with more talent yet to be integrated into the squad, the future looks even brighter.
Somewhere along the way, with all the negativity surrounding the club, it was easy to lose track of what was truly important. Recent events, however, have returned a sense of perspective to the fans, reminding us that the club – the team – is more important than anything. Individual talents will come and go, just like they always have, and in their wake the club will always walk on, stronger than ever.