13 Dec 2007

Liverpool jumping the gun with their self-congratulatory love-in.

Liverpool players have been falling over themselves to praise each other after the 4-0 victory against Marseille. Despite leaving it to the last game to qualify from a comparatively easy group, the players are acting as if they’ve just won the world cup.

Pepe Reina led the self-congratulatory backslapping, claiming that Liverpool were now one of the favourites to win the Champions League.

‘We have been in two finals in the last three seasons and we are one of the favourites’

Javier Mascherano continued the love-in with his fawning comments about Fernando Torres:

’Fernando Torres is a monster of football. For me he is one of the best forwards in the world’

And Jamie Carragher set about inflating Steven Gerrard’s ego even more (if that’s possible) with yet more bootlicking:

‘He's [Gerrard] is definitely one of the best players in the world. You look at Kaka and Messi, but they probably play for forward’

Carragher didn't stop there, as he lavished even more slobbering praise on Gerrard:

"He'll go down alongside Kenny Dalglish as one of the greatest players ever to have played for Liverpool and at the moment he's probably in the top four or five players in the world."

These are just examples *after* the Marseille game. The whole season is littered with examples of Liverpool players praising the superior ability of their colleagues, including: Dirk Kuyt calling Ryan Babel 'a sensation'; Torres claiming Rafa is 'One of the greats' and 'more than just a Manager'; Steven Gerrard labelling Torres 'amazing' and Jamie Carragher (again!) salivating that Torres is 'world class'.

Someone give me a sick bag.

This type of fawning is typical of footballers, who think every time someone has a good game they are ‘world class’ or whenever the team plays well it becomes ‘the best’ or ‘one of the favourites’.

This trend for self-obsessed narcissism pervades all aspects of football, with the most arrogant example being players releasing autobiographies when they’re still playing. Just like the recent spate of vainglorious comments, such behaviour is jumping the gun.

What happened to being humble in victory? Since when did Liverpool become a club that brags about its success before it’s even achieved anything?!

The club is so full of players boasting about each other’s ability that’s it’s hardly surprising that the first part of the season was so atrocious. Perhaps the players should keep their sycophantic platitudes in check until they’ve actually *won something* this season?

As history proves, bigging-up a team’s chances prematurely more often than not leads to disaster. Just look at the pre-match hype everyone had to endure before the recent Croatia-England game. It was all [paraphrasing] ‘we’re so good’ or ‘we’re too good to go out’ and ‘We’re one of the best teams in the world so we have to prove it’ and ‘We have lots of world class players who will show their worth’.

And look what happened.

Pepe Reina's overconfidence even extends to baiting Manchester United ahead of this weekend's crucial clash:

"We know we must be ready for United but it could be a great game in front of our own fans — and we expect to win".

What purpose do such comments serve, apart from motivating United even more and setting the team up for a fall?!

It’s great that Liverpool are in the second round of the Champions League; It’s fantastic that the team trounced Marseille in such dominant fashion, but tone down the showing off already! It’s only December and there’s a long way to go, and Liverpool playing well for the last 7 or 8 games doesn’t mean a thing in the context of a whole season.

I dread to think what superlatives will be thrown around on Sunday if Liverpool beat Manchester United. The blowing of trumpets will no doubt continue with a fanfare of self-satisfied over-confidence, something, ironically, I’ve always associated with Manchester United.

Of course, this is a purely modern phenomenon and is indicative of the ridiculous hype that pervades the English game. I just wish the current Liverpool team had the humility and sense of previous generations, who always let their performances do the talking.

If the team is still performing at this level in May and there are trophies in the cabinet then *that* is the time to start celebrating. Hopefully, any celebrations will be in the humbler Liverpool tradition, though based on this season’s evidence, I sincerely doubt it.


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