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Season Preview: Glass Half Full v Glass Overflowing


With the new season upon us, two long time TLW contributors, Paul Natton and John Brennan, share their thoughts and expectations on what we should expect from Jurgen's Reds. One is urging caution on the title talk while the other is embracing it. No prizes for guessing who is saying what!

First up, JB...

 

That we’ve progressed under Klopp is undeniable. But the optimism – even arrogance in some quarters – of the summer makes you wonder what planet lots of Reds have been living on for the last twenty-odd years. Why can’t we win the Title? Because “We are Liverpool”, as the song goes: we’re bound to mess it up somewhere.
 
Oh, and also because we finished TWENTY-FIVE points behind City last season. Oh, and six behind United, who are finished, according to most. How has that prediction worked out for you in the past?
 
Last season, our record against the top five teams in the division was pathetic: out of a possible 30 points, we took TEN. Out of a possible 15 away from Anfield, we took ONE. That’s an area where we are going to have to do markedly better this season. If you lose away to City, Spurs, Chelsea and United – direct opponents – it’s bound to prove fatal to any Title bid. Dropping points at home to the likes of Burnley, Everton, West Brom and Stoke tends not to help either. NINE points from a possible 18 against the relegated teams (Albion, Stoke and Swansea) tells its own story.
 
The money we’ve spent should go some way to solving some of our away-day calamities (City and Spurs both come to mind). Those type of displays should become a rarer sight given the “steel” that’s been added in the last year. Alisson-Virgil-Keita-Bobby as a spine looks pretty decent on paper. But they’re going to have to land on their feet or the season will be over before it starts. Do you trust this new improved version to do better than 19 points out of a possible 48 against the Top Five and the Bottom Three? I can’t say I do.
 
However, all the signs are that these players and the manager are deserving of some faith. We have – in general terms – progressed under Klopp. In terms of the way we play, for one. It would be disingenuous to not lavish praise on some of our football, notably in Europe. Defensively, we’re better. From 1.33 goals a game conceded in his first season, we progressed to 1.10 a game in 2016-2017 and to 1 last season.
 
The hope is that Alisson will finally win us points. We haven’t been able to say that for years; decades, perhaps. When was the last time we would say a keeper was worth X number of points a season to us? Often, it’s been the opposite: they’ve cost us points and more recently trophies. The plus/minus on that front will go a long way to dictating our season.
 
I’ve said it before: Salah, Bobby and Sadio (and maybe even Daniel now!) can’t be expected to go to the well week after week. They need to know that ONE will be enough sometimes. Again, this is an area in which we’ve progressed immensely.
 
In 2016-2017 we kept 11 clean sheets, last season we were up to 18. We’re going to need to produce those numbers this season to sustain a Title challenge and all the while be as prolific up front as we were last season. 80-100 goals is the norm for Champions. Anything less than 90 points will not be enough to win it. Klopp’s average of 1.87 points a game since he’s been here amount to 71 points a season…
 
So, do we approach the season more in hope than expectation? Hope, because if you don’t have that, then what else is there? The hope is to improve on last season’s total of 75 points. The hope is to win some silverware – it’s been a while.
 
For the more positive-minded among you, expecting great things? Well, Mo is still here! Virgil will be even better. Andy will start at left-back, unlike against Watford last season. The middle of the park looks more solid, although Chamberlain will be missed. Alisson’s statistics are top-notch, in that he saves shots, apparently. Which, for £65 million, is reassuring.
 
I still don’t trust this bunch to do it over a full season. I do, however, fancy us every year in The European Cup. We should always qualify from the group stages and when we do, we can beat anyone over two legs given the Anfield factor. That probably remains our best hope for the season ahead.
 
We’ll know in a couple of months whether the expectations of the summer were realistic. Hope for the best. Expect top four.  
 


John Brennan

@JohnAPBrennan

 
 
 
And now Paul's turn...

 

 

At 47 years of age, I've anticipated a lot of new seasons as a Red. Some turned out brilliantly, some were mediocre and one or two were a disgrace. However, I am struggling to remember feelings of excitement at the outset of a new campaign like those I'm experiencing right now.
 
I was lucky enough to grow up as a Red stood on The Kop in the 1980s, but despite those being incredible times to be a Liverpool supporter, I honestly don't think I ever felt as excited about the possibilities of a new season back then as I do now. 
 
On the face of it, that seems a ridiculous thing to say. We were dominant at home and - in the first half of the decade at least - in Europe, playing some of the best football ever played and enjoying a time when the game and its culture was certainly simpler and, arguably, purer. Certainly nothing since Kenny last delivered the title has come close to that time.
 
Even in 2005, as European Champions again, we had our chips pissed on by the club's appalling handling of Steven Gerrard at a time when abject club leadership was about to be replaced by owners who almost killed us completely. However, this season feels like something special.
 
So why, in the context of the first champions to spend - literally - billions in the acquisition of a 100 point title win, should any Red feel so excited? 
 
Firstly, look at the football and, yes, entertainment. No-one - not even City - plays the game in such an exhilarating, lightening quick, attack at all costs manner. Under Klopp we have absolutely smashed teams, both lowly and stellar, putting 3, 4, 5 and more past good and great sides alike.
 
After years of rocking up to Anfield not knowing what to expect, it now feels great to know you are almost certainly going to watch a victory with plenty of goals, to boot. Of course many fans would rightly point to the fact that great football is winning football and that includes keeping it tight defensively. However, we were doing exactly that from pretty much the minute Virgil arrived. Obviously we're all well aware of the goal-keeping debacle of the CL final. However, look at the response: a world record signing brought in to rectify the problem. 
 
And that brings me to my next cause for excitement: our recruitment. No way have we got so many signings so utterly right since the last title. In twelve months we've broken our transfer record six times. Six! In twelve months! And two of those were world records!
 
Some of the mealy-mouthed comment about this summer's business from many of our fans has absolutely blown me away. It's like they've completely blanked the last thirty years from their minds. Or else their sense of entitlement in an oil-inflated world has left them utterly adrift from reality and multiple record deals are suddenly no big deal.
 
It's not just the ambition of the deals that is so impressive though, or their success rate either. And it's not even the fact that we keep signing players coveted by virtually every side in the world. No, the thing that I love about our transfers under Klopp - and especially this summer- is how each one of them seems to so perfectly address a specific need in the squad.
 
You don't need me to spell it out for you, so I won't. But these four players are exactly what we needed. "What if they fall short?", I hear the oh-so-sensible ones cry. Well answer me this. How many players have done that under Klopp? Arguably none, but if you don't count taking a five million pound keeper to the CL final as a success of sorts, I'll give you Karius (And you can have him. Please.) 
 
So we've made some good signings. So what? Well the "so what" is that they'll give us the potential to play Kloppball at its peak for an entire campaign, riding the vagaries of injury and exhaustion to deliver that 100MPH stuff from Sunday through to May. But beyond that, going back to my previous point, the potential is there to improve.
 
If Klopp's ultimate aim is to keep teams pinned back in their own defensive third then he needs to ensure that exposure to the lightening quick counter is minimised. The answer to that is real pace right across the back line and a keeper who is great with his feet and will sweep up behind them like a genuine libero.
 
And if you're worried about midfield protection, what better than a genuine specialist to help out? And if you struggle to unlock parked bus defences, how about getting a player in Naby Keita (POTY, by the way; deffo) who has literally everything including the through ball, dribble or shot to do just that? Need more cover for your Fab Three? Go and get a PL-ready player who's just entering his peak years and can give you options in numerous positions. For absolute peanuts. 
 
But it's not just all that either. It's Scouse kids in a world class squad. It's the world and her husband predicting us as genuine challengers. It's Mourinho and Spurs fans seeing their arses with our transfer business. It's that pre-season that was so utterly goal-laden. It's Daniel Sturridge reminding us of his world class talent. It's the camaraderie. It's Klopp's infectious enthusiasm. It's Anfield bouncing. And, yes, it's a real title challenge in the post. 
 
Anyone could drive a coach and horses through some of the above if they really wanted to. But why would you want to? This time, after I'd thought it was gone for good, anything feels possible. And that's in full acknowledgment of what City are capable of. After all, what's the point of being a Red if you can't anticipate greatness, especially when this time it feels substantial? 
 
So, roll on Sunday, roll on Kloppball and roll on numbers nineteen and six because I'm predicting both. It costs you nothing and it feels great, so why wouldn't you? Come on you Reds!!!
 

Paul Natton

@OxtonSoulBoy


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41 Comments

I liked the bit Paul did. Reality is finally catching up with his optimism. I very much disliked the unrealistic negativity from John. Still, at least he avoided banal, dismissive insults this time.
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Reads like pragmatic realism followed by hopeful fandom to me.
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Reina was quality before he lost interest.

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Bit sickening it feels we finally get our shit together everyone is pulling in the same direction but it's happened at the same time the lottery winners hit their peak and have an unbelievable squad and a top class manager. In a way it kind of relieves the pressure in the league and klopp makes you wanna enjoy the moments and forget about the bigger picture until it's almost done. The more chilled I've become about football strangely the more it pisses off my birds manc family. I'm Zen about this season.
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Bit sickening it feels we finally get our shit together everyone is pulling in the same direction but it's happened at the same time the lottery winners hit their peak and have an unbelievable squad and a top class manager. In a way it kind of relieves the pressure in the league and klopp makes you wanna enjoy the moments and forget about the bigger picture until it's almost done. The more chilled I've become about football strangely the more it pisses off my birds manc family. I'm Zen about this season.


I was thinking the same yesterday. Imagine our current side the year Leicester won it.

We’d more than likely have romped home.
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I feel this needs a sense of balance. Where is FrenchEyeGlass?

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Reads like pragmatic realism followed by hopeful fandom to me.


I'm sure it does. It's hopeful that we've added world record signings and broken our record six times. That's hope to be trodden down! I'm not sure what could possibly be done to give some of you guys a lift, honestly. We've spent 170m on quality players who are not only proven but addressed weaknesses. Yet you said we wouldn't improve our position in the league, even though the two above us did virtually nothing to improve their sides. Realism! I don't get it, mate.

It's realism if you believe including a points tally in an average from three seasons ago from a team that didn't include Salah, Mane, Keita, Van Dijk, Robertson, Alisson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, but rather the points he got out of the players he inherited (like Skrtel, Sahko, Moreno, Mignolet, Allen, Lucas, and Ings). It is if you think saying you don't trust the players to get more than 19 points out of 48 from the top five and bottom three after watching how we performed after bringing Robbo and VVD into the back line and seeing us put teams to the sword in Europe and how good we've looked in pre-season. If that's realism and pragmatism, I'm out. It's based on as much realism as your Prediction that we'd finish outside of the CL last season and won't improve this season. There's a few guys who'll lap it up though. The ones who think we'll finish 6th, getting worse from adding options and losing nobody, mainly because our squad players aren't of 'premier league standard'.

Honestly, I'm not sure why half of you bother. It's bizarre to me why you suffer through this stuff. Though, to be fair, this reply was not just at you. It's the mindset afewhave. If it's something, it's not realism.
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Neither of these two views.

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If you don't include his first season (48 points from 30 games), then our average is 75.5 (76 in 2016-2017 and 75 last season).

 

The new signings are going to have to be worth 15 points, at least. I don't think they will be.

 

Time will tell.

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I was all ready to call John b all sorts again, but that’s fair enough for me. Bit disappointing.
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I'm sure it does. It's hopeful that we've added world record signings and broken our record six times. That's hope to be trodden down! I'm not sure what could possibly be done to give some of you guys a lift, honestly. We've spent 170m on quality players who are not only proven but addressed weaknesses. Yet you said we wouldn't improve our position in the league, even though the two above us did virtually nothing to improve their sides. Realism! I don't get it, mate.

It's realism if you believe including a points tally in an average from three seasons ago from a team that didn't include Salah, Mane, Keita, Van Dijk, Robertson, Alisson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, but rather the points he got out of the players he inherited (like Skrtel, Sahko, Moreno, Mignolet, Allen, Lucas, and Ings). It is if you think saying you don't trust the players to get more than 19 points out of 48 from the top five and bottom three after watching how we performed after bringing Robbo and VVD into the back line and seeing us put teams to the sword in Europe and how good we've looked in pre-season. If that's realism and pragmatism, I'm out. It's based on as much realism as your Prediction that we'd finish outside of the CL last season and won't improve this season. There's a few guys who'll lap it up though. The ones who think we'll finish 6th, getting worse from adding options and losing nobody, mainly because our squad players aren't of 'premier league standard'.

Honestly, I'm not sure why half of you bother. It's bizarre to me why you suffer through this stuff. Though, to be fair, this reply was not just at you. It's the mindset afewhave. If it's something, it's not realism.


As you have responded in a reasoned and fair manner i'll do same...will have to be later though as currently travelling to Liverpool from London taking my 8 year old to his first game this weekend - but once he is asleep later and i've been the ale house i'll reply in depth as to how i see it....
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John B is just being realistic. The stereotype of Liverpool fans held by others is that every year is going to be our year, and our latest signing is always the last piece of the jigsaw. It's a little unfair, perhaps, but you only need to look at old threads on here to see that there are always a bunch of people tipping us for the title, even under Hodgson.

Given such levels of persistent delusion among the fanbase, you can completely understand why the more rational supporter is reluctant to hitch his flag to the notion of a serious title challenge, even when, on paper, our squad appears stronger than it has in decades. Of course, football is played on grass, not paper.

We all have hope, even justified hope, for the new season, but too many people are getting carried away before we've even kicked a ball in anger.
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We blitzed our way to the European Cup final, beat City three times in four months and played some of the best football ever seen in this country.

 

Since then we've added four quality players and only lost Emre Can. I don't think people are getting carried away.

 

For some, playing it down works because they don't want to get their hopes up. That's fine, but it doesn't mean those who are expecting great things are wrong.

 

There isn't a single good reason to think we won't be ace this year. All there is is the weight of recent history which has seen us have loads of false dawns.

 

In reality, that means fuck all though.

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The thing I do not understand, now more than ever, is what there is to lose in anticipating a great season. The idea that downplaying expectations is somehow more realistic is ridiculous.

What’s real is how I feel going to Anfield every week and the anticipation of great winning football with loads of goals is entirely realistic because that’s what I got last season. Furthermore what’s unrealistic about suggesting a markedly improved squad can do markedly better?

Do I think a trophy or two will be a cake walk? Obviously not. Is it an impossibility for us to win one of the big two? Don’t be ridiculous. We were 90 minutes away from No.6 three months ago and I defy anyone to say they honestly expect us to regress in the league.

No, I’m very comfortable in my anticipation of a great season, because post-Suarez it took me ages to get my mojo back and now it’s returned I’m not letting go.

Come on you Reds!!!
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What is wishful thinking and what is realistic remains to be seen. My reality is that we are great to watch. There is a good vibe about the club; atmospheres are better on matchday. This season we have the excitement of seeing how a new keeper and a promising play-making/attacking mid can make us better.

 

No idea what we will or won't win - but it's gonna be great going to games this season - and telly clapping the ones I don't have tickets for.   

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John B is just being realistic. The stereotype of Liverpool fans held by others is that every year is going to be our year, and our latest signing is always the last piece of the jigsaw. It's a little unfair, perhaps, but you only need to look at old threads on here to see that there are always a bunch of people tipping us for the title, even under Hodgson.

Given such levels of persistent delusion among the fanbase, you can completely understand why the more rational supporter is reluctant to hitch his flag to the notion of a serious title challenge, even when, on paper, our squad appears stronger than it has in decades. Of course, football is played on grass, not paper.

We all have hope, even justified hope, for the new season, but too many people are getting carried away before we've even kicked a ball in anger.



Jesus, who was tipping us for the title under Hodgson?
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Certainly wouldn't have been Roy.

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DWEAMLAND.
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Utopia!
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Jesus, who was tipping us for the title under Hodgson?


He might have had a fair crack at the championship title had he stayed!
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Ok so, Numero...as promised....

Firstly I'll say that I openly admit to being pessimistic by nature - the glass generally for me is half empty, it is just the way I am.

I am a 46 year old life long Red who like many others on here is lucky enough to have been able to see us win things on a regular basis in the 80's albeit as a kid mostly and it does feel a long time ago since queuing up down Kemlyn Road to get into the Kop and just about squeezing in to see us presented with the championship trophy the last time against Derby back in 1990....Awful game not that it mattered settled by a Gary Gillespie goal and only really noteworthy for The King coming on for a cameo and The Kop serenading Kevin Francis with 'One Blackpool Tower, there's only one Blackpool Tower' and of course being presented with the trophy after we has sewn it up a few days earlier v QPR.....

If you had told me that night that nearly 30 years later we would still be waiting to win it again I would like most there that night I am sure have laughed at you and said "Yer wha'!"....

Anyway we all know the story since and it hasn't all been bad and we are a LOT luckier than most to be fortunate enough to follow a team who have not finished lower than 8th in the league for about 50 odd years and have won European Cups and everything else (except the League) even in what are seen as "lean" times.....

I love this football club - probably (like a lot of others) more than i should do. I moved down to London about 12 years ago and whilst I don't go every week now I go a fair bit and I spend a fortune doing so - today I lashed out over £100 on train fare to get the lad and me up here today for the game tomorrow (I am never organised enough to get on the Virgin site and get the cheap tickets in advance, dopey get I am).....Our seats in the main stand for tomorrow are £53 each adult/child are like goldust aren't they, so swallowed full price.....Of course loads of other people on here are same and I am no more special than them of course or anyone who maybe does not go either - I am just one of thousands and thousands/millions of people who love this club - I am lucky to have grown up in Liverpool and 'go the game' for years and I am lucky to be able to do it a good few times a season now.....this weekend is my lads first time, I have been a little misty eyed today showing him around town etc today and I reckon tomorrow I'll be worse when we rock up at ground (soft get me!)

Anyway - I digress.....I do honestly believe that we are improving, we are moving in the right direction and we are in the best state we have been for a good while - the football is at times a joy to watch, we have a forward line that is top drawer and we can give anyone a hiding on any given day.....

We are though in my view still a little short in squad depth, we have too many injury prone players and we have a giant monkey on our back in the form of being serial losers in recent years when push really comes to shove.

Now I have no desire to get into a ruck here but as much as you or anyone else feel like voicing your views (which of course is what discussion boards are all about) I like to voice mine too and I try to do so a reasonably as possible, as reasonably and intelligently as my limited vocabulary and intelligence allow.

I see things like this - Yes there is evidence of progress and yes I can see why there is a lot of positivity and hope (I hope to fuck we do well, like all Reds do) I can see why there is excitment and I can see why some people might have an 'issue' with what they perceive as 'negativity' or people not being excited and not being able to understand that....or not being able to correlate supporting a team and not being positive/excited/bullish etc.

I though think a lot gets lost in translation - again i think it is the nature of forums....expressing concern at squad depth, concern about our less than ideal record last season against the rest of the top 6 or our tendency to let leads slip or drop points to shite is in my book totally fair and totally reasonable things to discuss/be concerned about.

Maybe I and some others are a bit burned from previous setbacks...2014 hurt me and if I am honest changed me a fair bit...I genuinely thought we had cracked it, and to see it slip away the way it did left a mark, a big fucking horrible painful mark...we all know the story there.

I'm not gonna sit here and list all the other near misses, examples of bad luck etc and at times almost unbelievable ways fate has fucked us up the arse - you are a big red you know.

Maybe I have let stuff affect me too much, maybe I should be more positive, move on, look forward and so on but the doubts nag at me, they niggle away and then when Karius for example hands Madrid a goal in that final all the doubts are confirmed....and rinse and repeat.

When I go the game, or watch on TV or in pub etc I am always hopeful (cautiously!) and I for those 90 mins always try and forget the negatives and just support the redmen - but as much as there is progress, there is much to be excited about there is still IMO a lot of weakness and sadly I can't help but worry and see it being exposed/costing us.

The front 3 are boss, totally.....Shaiqiri is a useful addition to add cover and depth and help rotate....but I just can't believe Sturridge is going to get off his arse and buck a 4 year trend and suddenly be what we need...I don't see a player of the level we need in Solanke....

I look at our centre halves and yes VVD is terrific - the rest are a collection of the mediocre, the injury prone and the unproven - it is a big worry to me.

The midfield is arguably not much stronger depth wise than it was last season and it was stretched to fuck at the end of the season as the games mounted up and the injuries mounted up.....AOC and Can are out Keita and Fabinho are in....yes Keita should be an upgrade on Can - Fabinho I am not sure about yet...AOC being out for the season is a blow as he really won me round and was looking great and really fitted how we set up and was doing the business....Lallana for example coming in and having as much impact is in my view very unlikely.....

At times last season when we needed to freshen it up we looked to bench and had nowhere near enough....the same concern is there for me going into this season...in the 3 game weeks or when players are being fucked by international travel demands etc have we got enough to change/rest/rotate and not see the huge drop off that led to dropping points like v the bitters at home? To me it is a fair question?

Have we got the mental toughness to grind it out whem under strength or not quite at best? Or will we see the high number of draws we had last season do for us again?....Again for me it is a fair question.

The keeper situation is one where there is definite and clear reason to say we have improved and we should expect to see the benefits...you are right to say that with VVD and Robbo in side last season we improved and having them from start it is reasonable to expect better than the first half of last.....Clyne being fit and TAA being a year wiser is good news too.

End of the day (as this post must have become fucking boring ages ago, hello anyone still there!) I probably could do with looking at the positives more than looking at possible negatives or worries and you know what I will try and do that...

We are gonna need to be fucking near perfect to challenge City - they are immense and the rest of the top 6 all have eyes on being at it too of course, the 6 sides are all full of quality are head and shoulders above rest of league and i bet the other 5's fans (maybe City aside) have the same hopes and fears that we all share on here.

I want number 19 desperately, I don't expect it this year, but I believe we are closer to having a proper crack at it than we have been in a good while....I'll be as made up as the rest of us if we do nail it of course - a trophy would be a good thing to get the monkey off our backs and show ourselves and the rest that we can get over the line...another year of dining at Europes top table too of course (and I think we will secure that) is the other big aim.

Bring it on, come on you mighty redmen.

The mood is good it has to be said... The manager is still universally backed. The club has been doing its best to narrow the gap and build bridges between itself and its fans. Things can always be improved and done better but it feels more right than wrong right now and there have been plenty of times we haven't been able to say that.

Jürgen Klopp has built a side that is capable of beating anyone on it's day and fucks up less when it shouldn't fuck up than it did (although still work needed here) and is capable of scoring goals anywhere, anytime. From front to back the first 11 boasts proven quality that clubs would be queuing up for if the for sale signs went up. Would Alisson, Van Dijk, Keita and Salah walk into pretty much any team in the world right now? Of course they would.

So yeah - I am hopeful, but the doubts do nag away, and that is way it is.

Apologies for any spelling errors...typed all this on phone.
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I totally understand the notion of not wanting to get our hopes up and that as fans we often do get carried away, but I also think this is an excellent side and it's peaking at a time when other clubs are maybe floundering to some extent.

I think we'll have a great seson and I'm really optimistic, we can definitely win the league this season and I haven't felt that way since we signed Torres.
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Klopp is doing a good job trying to temper expectations. No one should get discouraged if we don't win a big trophy this season. At the end of the day, unless something unforeseen happens, he has till summer 2022 to deliver and he's building a squad that has the ability to get to that crescendo eventually.

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TLBDR

 

Repped. A long post that was balanced, and not really boring.

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Repped. A long post that was balanced, and not really boring.

 

Yeah it was boss, especially as he typed it on his phone. That's dedication that is.

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