A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing. ALWAYS BE CLOSING. A-I-D-A. Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. Attention – Do I have you attention? Interest – Are you interested? I know you are, because it’s fuck or walk. You close or you hit the bricks.
Blake, Glengarry Glen Ross
Popular culture is full of people theorising about what makes a winner. From the vulgar to the sublime, you can’t swing a cat in a Hollywood archive without battering the unfortunate moggy off some character pontificating about the traits of a victor. In this never-more-materialistic world, the common preoccupation with being seen as one of life’s champions means that almost everything is about competition – having the better car, earning the biggest salary, getting the most bloody retweets.
Obsession with a sports team, especially one with a proud tradition of conquest and glory, means ratcheting that idée fixe about winning up a few notches. It is an unavoidable infatuation, especially if you have foolishly aligned yourself with a club blessed and burdened by a trophy-strewn history like Liverpool’s.
Sadly, this is where we encounter a problem, this is where enthusiasm can morph into embitterment and despondency, because over the past decade the Redmen simply have not won titles. A solitary League Cup in 11 long years means that an entire generation of Reds are lurching towards adulthood without ever having seen their beloved team win a trophy of note.
In recent months, the anticipation boom has been followed by the disappointment bust, as Jürgen Klopp’s exciting-but-flawed squad have fallen away from the summit of the league and crashed out of two cups. Inquests and analysis have been the order of the day but the reality is that for all the obscene talent and early enthusiasm, the German’s squad lacked the character and class to maintain their lofty perch.
One of the squad’s finest performers in the first half of the season, Adam Lallana, has been one of the most disappointing contributors in recent weeks. With an admirable self-awareness, the former Southampton star did not stint on his criticism of himself and his teammates, especially when placed in direct comparison with the runaway league leaders.
“You can see they have a lot of experience and that they are used to winning,” Lallana told The Echo. “They know how to win games even when not at their best. You don’t have to always win by scoring five or six. Maybe that’s an area we need to improve on. We maybe need to realise how good we are at times. Milly (James Milner) is probably the only one in our group who has that type of experience because it only comes from winning silverware like he did at Manchester City. Myself and the other players haven’t won titles or loads of cups so we need to learn from him and listen to him because that type of experience is vital. We need to learn and get back to winning ways in the league as soon as possible.”
Lallana is a very amiable chap and a gloriously gifted player, so it is particularly galling to see his critics emerging from the dark corners of the internet once more, based on his showings in recent weeks. He is, however, dead right. Both he and his colleagues have been lacking in that grit and ugly will to win that characterises those who emerge victorious.
For the remaining 14 games, many of us are only interested in one thing – Liverpool winning. Winning ALL THE GAMES. We finish where we finish and we don’t care how the victories are obtained but for the love of your chosen deity, JUST WIN. I want to buy Kloppo’s boys a coffee if I ever get to meet them but coffee is for closers and closers secure Champions League football with points to spare.