At 5pm, the harsh reality of another long, daunting and inconsistent campaign was on the mind of even the biggest optimist.
Pundits and fans alike predicted an ‘easy win’ against a West Bromwich Albion side that have always proven difficult to get a result against.
Many will have dismissed or simply forgotten that it was only in April that a Peter Odemwingie goal at Anfield gifted all 3 points to the Baggies.
Since the Gerard Houllier years it seems that we have found it difficult to get the results that everybody in the footballing world would expect. I often find myself wondering if this is complacency, lack of motivation, or just sheer lack of respect for the opposition that is placed in front of us, by both us as supporters and also the players.
I think a combination of all three plays a major part to our shortcomings. Match day, at Anfield in particular, has a totally different feel to it depending on the opposition. Against the top clubs, the atmosphere can be described as electric, vibrant and the only place to be for all our fans. On the other hand, against the ‘lesser’ opposition, Anfield suddenly becomes a dull place to be, with the general feeling that it is more of a chore to be inside the ground rather than a pleasurable experience.
I firmly believe that a lack of motivation in the stands filters down to the players as kick-off approaches. Against the ‘lesser’ sides the tempo is slow, the passing is poor, the creativity is non-existent with none or very little movement off the ball. This is where complacency begins to creep in. Simple passes become misplaced, and the harmony of the team seems completely out of tune.
As fans I feel it is our duty to make sure we get behind and support our team. Many players have openly talked about how we can act as the 12th man and help ‘suck’ the ball into the net. Rather than us just having this affect against the big teams why can we not do this against the so called ‘lesser’ teams?
I feel we should all change our mentality regarding the lesser teams. We need to stop taking for granted that we are going to come away with a comfortable victory. As fans we need to vocally back our team and in return our players need to dig deep, show character and resilience.
It is all well playing for a club that has a glittering history, it means nothing if you do not write your own name into that history. The glorious images that decorate the walls behind the scenes at Anfield only exist due to players putting their bodies on the line, shedding their last ounce of energy and going into each and every game with the same mentality. It is 11 men vs 11 men, the hungrier set of men will prevail and be on the winning side come the full time whistle.
No game is an easy game in the Premier League, every team needs to be treated with the same respect, be it our closest rivals or a newly promoted side. The sooner we as fans and also the players adapt this mentality, then just maybe will we be able to reach the heights that we all so desperately want to get to.
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