Is There Really A Liverpool Way?
The phrase The Liverpool Way is one that often crops up around our great club. It lends itself to our name, but what exactly is it? Is The Liverpool Way still a thing in 2017?
Most fans would agree that Jurgen Klopp has got the team playing The Liverpool Way, with the 3-0 Audi Cup win over Bayern Munich on Tuesday a fine example. Klopp's side pressed high up the pitch, played supreme attacking football and scored some lovely goals - so is this The Liverpool Way?
Or maybe The Liverpool Way is more nuanced than what we see on the pitch, encapsulating the morals and values of our club.
The Liverpool Way - the club's definition
Let's start with the club itself - how do they define The Liverpool Way?
In a page on the recruitment section of the official Liverpool website, the club says: "The Liverpool Way forms part of our core values and underpins everything we do at Liverpool FC.
"From how we work together within our teams and together across the club with commitment and ambition, in the way we act on and off the field as individuals and as a club with dignity, the way we treat people and want to be treated, and how we strive to do things better together in unity for the common good.
"Ambition, Commitment, Dignity and Unity - these are our family values and The Liverpool Way."
Liverpool go on to describe themselves as "the World's Greatest Football Family", which is their way of rounding off exactly what is meant by The Liverpool Way.
How tradition fits into The Liverpool Way
Tradition is surely one of the most important factors involved in The Liverpool Way. But in an era of big sponsors, world-record transfer fees, obscene wages, famous old clubs leaving their historic homes and so on - how can The Liverpool Way survive?
Family was at the heart of Liverpool's own definition of what The Liverpool Way is, so perhaps this ties in with upholding the traditions of the club.
Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard certainly agrees. "We celebrated together and commiserated together," he wrote in My Autobiography. "The Liverpool Way. Liverpool's family feel is essential to someone like me who works best in a strong, caring environment."
In an era where Liverpool is owned by Americans, surely maintaining the family feel and continuing our important traditions is vital to upholding The Liverpool Way.
Where did The Liverpool Way come from?
The blueprint for what we recognise to be The Liverpool Way can be traced back to Bill Shankly.
The man needs no introduction on these pages, having set the foundations for the greatest period in the history of the club in his 15-year spell in charge at Anfield.
Shankly, perhaps more than anyone else who has ever been at Liverpool as either a player or a manager, understood how important it was to harness the power of the club's supporters. Liverpool fans are a special breed and when everyone pulls in the same direction the momentum they can generate for the club is unstoppable.
This is surely one of the most important factors of The Liverpool Way, even today in 2017.
What club icons say about The Liverpool Way
Maybe the best way to get a grip on The Liverpool Way is to check out how the legends see it.
Alan Hansen once said: "I go along with The Liverpool Way of thinking, that any goal is a bad goal and you have got to make the opposition do something special to get one."
Ronnie Whelan has a good assessment of the varying factors involved in The Liverpool Way. He said: "Good technique, a football brain, huge work ethic and a genuine heart. That was the formula. If that’s what people mean by The Liverpool Way, so be it."
Of course, we could not go without mentioning King Kenny in this section. The Scot has spoken about what The Liverpool Way means perhaps more than anyone connected to the club.
"The Liverpool Way was keeping the game nice and simple, just tackling, passing and moving – win it, give it," Dalglish said of the football style involved in The Liverpool Way.
Does The Liverpool Way have a set style of football?
Style of football is often brought up when referring to The Liverpool Way - but where does it fit? We have to go back to Shanks again here, as his style of football certainly set the blueprint.
Liverpool passed the ball accurately but with speed, getting the ball forward quickly and efficiently, while extremely working hard to pressurise the opposition into making mistakes.
It's a style of football we can certainly see from Klopp's side today, albeit with a more modern twist that can probably be explained by the increased fitness levels of players these days.
The best Liverpool teams have played in a similar way and it is probably not a coincidence that the long wait for the league title has often coincided with this style going missing.
Some, however, would argue that The Liverpool Way comes down to one thing only: winning.
Philosophy and The Liverpool Way
A word that often crops up in discussions is philosophy, which has always been key to the club. It is the values and ethos of Liverpool that make it one of the world's most supported clubs.
Again, pinning down exactly what is meant by The Liverpool Way is tough here, due to the fact that there are so many different factors that feed into it.
Respect seems to be one of the central tenets. Respect for opponents and respect for the game. Not washing your dirty laundry in public and going about things in the right manner.
This is perhaps why the failed pursuit of Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk was so frustrating for supporters. The 24/7 news media makes this harder, but in the past Liverpool would have gone about that deal privately, without leaking anything about talks to the press.
Being rushed into an apology for approaching a potential transfer in absolutely the wrong manner was distinctly un-Liverpool and certainly not a part of The Liverpool Way. It is accepted that these things should happen behind closed doors, rather than being played out in the media.
The Liverpool Way - final conclusions
When thinking about The Liverpool Way in detail it is clear that it means different things to different people and it really cannot be summed up in a simple soundbite.
Sometimes, like with the van Dijk deal, it can be easier to pick out what's not The Liverpool Way.
Whereas a public pursuit of a player is not The Liverpool Way, developing your own talent certainly is and this is a factor Klopp has definitely embraced in his time in charge at Anfield.
It is also clear that The Liverpool Way was lost for a time, with perhaps the return of King Kenny after the departure of Roy Hodgson a big turning point in this regard.
And today it feels like The Liverpool Way is back. Klopp understands the importance and the power of the club's supporters. The style of football is what we are used to. And we are winning.
While it may be argued that The Liverpool Way will never be the same as in the club's glory days when titles were expected to be won every year, progress is being made.
Keeping The Liverpool Way at the heart of the club will continue to be a vital part of our shared future for many years to come.