“Twelve Angry Me…at Pies”

By Aitch

No… this is not a blog about the outrageous prices of meat pies at various grounds throughout the UK.
The things journalists get fuckin narked about is really rather embarrassing.

Seven games into a league season is no time to judge…
As fans though, we simply can’t help ourselves really… there’s an almost pathological, ingrained desperation on our parts to do so.
But there’s little to be gained from such judgments at this stage.

It was often said during the latter half of last season, that… and I’m paraphrasing in spite of the quotes… “we wouldn’t mind losing, if only we were playing good football and seeing progress”.

I’d imagine the people who said that are looking at the development of young players and thinking they got what they wanted.
I’d imagine the people who disputed the idea are looking at the unforced errors, continued (even if it is now being described as a “transitional ball”) use of the long ball, defensive mistakes, goals conceded, fewer goals scored from far, far fewer goalscoring “chances” and thinking… hmmm… this is progress?
I’d imagine many are mulling around in the middle.

For sure it is great to see a Sterling playing over a Vorronin, and you can definitely see the kernel of an effective controlling/passing game emerging…
… but you can also see many of the same problems we’ve had for several seasons now, either raising their heads, or at least bubbling just under the surface.

It has been talked about in terms of a “transition season”
… but a transition to what?

I recently asked a friend the following question…
Do you think we are still a Top 4 team?
It sparked an interesting discussion about what that really means.

Let me explain.
Of course, being a “Top 4” team, means simply to finish in the top 4 places in the league…
… currently Everton sit in 4th place.
But even if they could hang on to that spot for the duration of the season, would that make them a “Top 4” team?

LFC have finished outside the top 4 spots now for 3 seasons.
So technically it is a bit rich for us to be still referring to ourselves as a “Top 4” contender…
But along with final standing, there are other factors to consider…
….things like UEFA rankings, our continued membership among the elite, decision-making clubs of Europe, our worldwide fanbase, (which still sees almost all of our games televised, at least here in the States, while only a handful of, for example, Spurs or Everton’s are) and finally, a combination of our History and financial might (even while both of which have taken hits in recent years.)

…So while we haven’t been among the “top 4” for a few seasons now… I do still think we are a “Top 4” team… in spite of the last 3 seasons!
My point is… such a team can survive 3 or 4 seasons outside the Top 4 spots… but 5 or 6 and the patient is in serious trouble.

Of course, there’s a slightly separate, but certainly related argument now, with the emergence of Man City and to a lesser degree Spurs, that involves the idea that the “traditional” competition for the top 4 spots, is now a more closely contested competition of the Top 6 spots…
I’d somewhat agree with that… (but we will still discuss it as “top 4” due to the CL spots.)
(We are currently looking like the 7th team in that list, and Newcastle may join the ranks as an 8th team, but that remains to be seen… I can’t see Everton sustaining their start to be honest, and even if they do have a good season, I doubt its indicative of a resurgence and without investment, they could as easily be contesting relegation again next season.)

So the question then becomes… are we still a part of that group… that “top 4” group?
…are we barely hanging to that “top 4” group’s coattails?
… have we fallen to more of a “top 6/8” group status?
…are we barely hanging onto the “top 6/8 group’s coattails?
And depending on your answers… the question then becomes…

What are we in transition from?
And what are we in transition to?

These are not easy questions… coz our History weighs heavy upon them.
…and I think this has largely been at the core of the majority of disagreements over the last 4 seasons among the fans.

The idea that a Manager who had won Number 5, taken us close to Number 6, along with 2 CL semis, did not have the 100% support (in as much as any manager can) of the fans coz we’d dropped outside the Top 4 spots once in 5 years surely says something?

But the decision to remove that man, set off a chain of decisions that saw us tumble from those heady heights…
… and while some have sheepishly run from their opinions of those days, in the full realization of the realities of the day, some people still don’t realize just how fuckin good we had it!

From my viewpoint… I don’t think this season is a transition back to those heady days.
The summer’s decisions simply do not bare that out.

It seemed to me that there was an acceptance that we were, if not a “fallen giant”, at the very least we were a stumbling one…
…. and that we are now looking to transition back to solidifying ourselves as a 5th/6th place team this season…
(A viewpoint that should perhaps have been in place last summer rather than this?)
… with the hope of building back to Top 4 finishes perhaps the following season.
Of course… January and next summer will almost need to be flawless and error free, for that to happen… and I’m not entirely confident in that happening.

There’s a mentality” element to it all, as well as a physical one.

So anyway, here we are… playing “new football” in a “new season” with “new personnel” under a “new manager” with a “new philosophy”…
… at least we won’t be doing it in a new stadium…

Seven games into a season IS too early to judge where we are, or where we’re going.
The record so far does make for a sobering read…
In the Premier League we have:
One win, Three Draws and Three Losses… 6 points from a possible 21

In all games played (including cups and friendlies) the math reads…
Six Wins, Six Draws and Six Losses… or the equivalent of 24 points from a possible 54

Now none of that necessarily means anything… the babies are only just out of nappies and learning to walk…
Some will say we are playing some great football… and we are…
… but we are playing some poor footy too, making errors and conceding goals.
… not unlike last season actually…
Ultimately stats are numbers that could be a harbinger of doom…
… or they could simply be the teething pains en route from puree to a Prime Rib and chips.

So at the very least…. I’m hoping for a transition to some meat paste and mashed potatoes in the coming weeks…
We host Reading this weekend, followed by Anzhi in the Europa, then Everton on their patch, and then Swansea in the Carling.
Three of those games are gonna be tough fixtures, given that Anzhi are the Russian Chavs, Everton are, well, Everton, and Swansea are Brendan’s former team, so both sides will have something of a point to prove.
Not an easy October.

A busy November sees us host Newcastle, then travel to Anzhi and Chelsea. We then host Wigan and Young Boys, before traveling to face Swansea again, this time in the Prem, then Spurs.

One judgment I will give…
There are not too many games in there that the words “need to win” do not apply to.