As another season wraps up in the SW6, the 108th in our 116 years of existence, we turn our attentions to things like the transfer market, squad planning, and of course the ownership transition. In many ways, the next few months are the main event of any football season, as evidenced by pageviews and clicks and the never-ending cacophony of rumors and speculation that everyone laps up like Brawndo.
But the changes engendered by these pursuits are only part of the story. While we often like to think and even truly believe that all problems in football can be solved via transfers, skill training, formations or tactical instructions, real life is not a video game and it’s often the concepts that are harder to define and quantify that make the ultimate difference — especially at the top level where the margins are so small Liverpool even employ a penalty whisperer.
Of course, these margins don’t have to be so esoteric. First, you have to get the basics right. And not just once or twice or in big games. Consistency of execution and application is the difference between the very best and the merely very good, as Thomas Tuchel also highlighted in advance of our final match of this season.
“We can do better. I think it is not a lot; it is margins. We will look into that — it is not the moment when I have analysed everything and I don’t have the answer because we would have changed it before. [But] we struggle with efficiency, with goal scoring records, with consistency, with determination, with precision in the box against teams who defend deep.
“[And] we lack huge quality with N’Golo, Ben Chilwell, Reece James [being injured]. If you see him in the last weeks, it is maybe a miracle we are in the top three the whole season without these key players because we missed them for weeks and weeks and weeks and it never stopped for us. Maybe this just needs to change, that we have everybody available.
“But the top teams, Liverpool bought a fantastic player (Luis Díaz) in the winter to make the existing squad stronger. Man City signed (Erling) Haaland already to make the existing squad stronger. We are losing players so at the moment my focus is to build a strong team and to see what’s even possible and then we think about how we close the gap.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
The strong are getting stronger. Our task certainly won’t be easy. It may not be immediate, and we certainly should not expect it to be immediate. The improvements necessary in mentality, approach, focus, and quality of execution may be marginal, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy or quick to attain — especially with the tap of constant extravagant funding now presumably turned off and with a couple key veterans leaving as well.
So as we look to achieve consistency on the pitch, a bit of consistency among the coaching and the planning and decision-making at the club will probably be quite useful as well.