Liverpool were incredibly relentless last season in hunting down the Premier League title, and it’s probably still overlooked just how imperious their form was.
We’ve seen, year after year, sides who were exciting, high-quality, could attack in style and had every other positive – with the exception of the most important trait of all.
For the past couple of years though, the Reds have added that innate characteristic to the team, particularly throughout the calendar year – when Jurgen Klopp‘s side, between 10 March 2019 and 24 February 2020, won 35 of 36 Premier League games.
That is, in a word, ridiculous.
And as Virgil van Dijk points out, it’s not just incredibly good to achieve, but incredibly difficult to maintain.
“Consistency is the most difficult thing in football, I think – to keep doing it week in, week out,” he told Premier League Productions.
“Year after year. And that’s something that we try to achieve.
“Obviously if you look at the last two seasons in the league, we have been very consistent.
“We have been putting in performances week in, week out and managing to find a win or get a good result – and obviously some games were better than the others – and hit a certain level of consistency that made us, especially last year, the champions of England. And that’s the difficult part.”
The No. 4 is right to point out that the Reds kept finding a way, no matter what it took – one of the early defining traits of this side was the ability to win late on, even coming from behind when necessary.
Belief ran constant in the side that they’d manage to eke out a result, many of which were key to picking up vital points and winning the title.
This time around it’s going to be a similar approach, he says, in terms of taking it one game at a time – a mantra repeated by the boss and the squad many times over last year, despite the media constantly asking about the title which was several months away at the time.
“We are trying to look at games that are ahead of us and not think about what’s going to happen the next two or three months.
“We just focus on what is in front of us, try to win that and give everything we’ve got.
“Obviously it’s going to be tough because the consistency is the most difficult thing in football, not just personally as a footballer but as a team as well. It’s a big challenge for all of us but we should definitely be looking forward to it.”
That challenge to find consistency comes on two fronts: individually and collectively.
Virgil is one of those who has had a few errors in his game of late, made all the more noticeable because of his usual impeccable standards.
Rediscovering that consistency and near-perfect output on a weekly basis will dictate whether the Reds can win the title again, and Van Dijk’s own consistency is one of the most important of all barometers to the team’s success as a whole.