Davis: Contrasting Mindsets as Liverpool’s Season Comes to a Close

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Season’s End Saga: When Form Clashes With Ambition

There’s always the argument that Liverpool have nothing left to play for, but in truth there’s a few who might not feel that way. In the drama-filled world of football, the winding down of the season presents a psychological battlefield as diverse as the league table itself. Among players, the disparity in wishes for the season’s conclusion can be striking, particularly highlighted by the contrasting fortunes of players like Cody Gakpo and Harvey Elliott against those of Dominik Szoboszlai and Ibrahima Konate.

Keep It Going: Gakpo and Elliott

Cody Gakpo’s late-season surge has been a spectacle, drawing the eyes of fans and critics alike. Since Sheffield United’s game, he’s managed to consistently influence the scoreboard, bagging key goals against teams like Brighton and Tottenham, while also serving up a crucial assist in the same game for Mo Salah. In the six league games he’s played during the run-in, Gakpo has notched four goal contributions and you’ve zero doubt he’d have played against Everton either.

Photo: IMAGO

Similarly, Harvey Elliott has risen to the occasion, delivering performances that sing of potential yet fully coming into bloom. His playmaking ability has shone, particularly noted in his assists against Fulham and a blockbuster goal against Tottenham, which underscored his capability to shine on the big stage. His record stands solid with 1 goal and 2 assists since that Fulham start four games ago. You know he wants that run in the starting line-up to keep going.

One Eye Elsewhere: Szoboszlai and Konate

Conversely, Dominik Szoboszlai and Ibrahima Konate seem to have their gaze fixed beyond the club’s immediate fixtures. Elliott and Quansah are ahead of them in the pecking order as Klopp confirmed at the recent press conference, although that could change. Szoboszlai, despite his earlier promise, hasn’t found the back of the net nor has he set up any goals for some time. It’s telling that across the last four league games he’s seen just 75 minutes of total action. The euros with Hungary beckons and you’d expect his mind has wandered there somewhat.

Photo: IMAGO

In a similar situation, Ibrahima Konate’s season tells a similar story of fading presence, with Klopp confirming that Quansah was chose ahead of him for Spurs. His only start in the last six was against Palace and his only other game was being hauled off after 63 minutes against Everton. As his participation has dwindled, seeing him often relegated to the bench, some have taken it as a sign that perhaps his focus might already be shifting towards preparing for international duties at the Euros for France. Whatever the exact reason, both Konate and Szoboszlai look like they need their club season to end sharpish for their own sakes.

Psychological Play

The diverging paths of these players reflect not just personal ambitions but also highlight a psychological aspect often overlooked. Gakpo and Elliott, undoubtedly, wish the season could stretch, allowing them to capitalize on their hot streaks. Their performances suggest a peak in morale as Klopp talked about in his presser, elements crucial in the high-octane closing weeks of the season. In contrast, Szoboszlai and Konate might be experiencing the mental checkout that occasionally haunts players whose seasons haven’t aligned with their aspirations. With significant tournaments like the Euros on the horizon, their dwindling club contributions could well be a subconscious shift towards conserving energy and focus for the international stage.

Careful Not To Revise History

This tale of two halves within a single team encapsulates the beautiful complexity of football. As some players ascend under the bright lights of the season’s end, others recede, shadowed by thoughts of what lies ahead. This dynamic not only influences team chemistry but also poses strategic dilemmas for managers who must juggle immediate objectives with individual player management and future squad planning. Just because Szoboszlai and Konate have had bad ends to the campaign doesn’t change the overall narrative, nor does it for Elliott or Gakpo either. Maybe with everything set to change at Anfield this is just a unique and amplified moment. Couldn’t be different for this grouping though.

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