Liverpool have a crucial '12th man'

Liverpool have a crucial '12th man'

SINGAPORE - Steven Gerrard’s emotional exhortation to his team-mates at the end of their thrilling 3-2 victory over Manchester City on Sunday spoke volumes about the team spirit that Liverpool possess as they inch closer to a first English league title in 24 years.

There were no wild celebrations as the players congregated in a huddle immediately to hear out their captain, who told them to forget the City match and focus on the next vital league game against Norwich.

Such spirit is crucial as the pressure of sustaining a successful title charge gets bigger with each victory.

For the Reds, this Premier League season has had its fair share of potential banana skins but their admirable team spirit has shone through to avoid such pitfalls.

For starters, Luis Suarez’s pre-season transfer saga, as well as his 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, could have easily torn the team apart.

However, the entire squad stood by the Uruguayan and welcomed him back into the team after his suspension. And he has responded by delivering a superb season, filled with goals, assists and memorable moments.

Meanwhile, injuries to influential figures like Gerrard, Daniel Agger and Lucas Leiva could also have derailed their charge but other players have stepped up to the plate and performed.

Even those who are not getting many playing chances have accepted their situation without complaints.

The core of the team has been intact for a few years with players like Martin Skrtel, Gerrard and Suarez.

New additions such as Philippe Coutinho have integrated well and, under the guidance of manager Brendan Rodgers, have really come together as a team.

I believe that they can go out to contest the remaining four games without pressure, now that fate is in their own hands. The win over City will give them added belief.

The match against Chelsea will, in all likelihood, decide whether the title heads to Anfield, and I am really looking forward to it.

Nobody would have foreseen Liverpool sitting atop the table with four games remaining and, with Man City and Chelsea breathing down their necks, this makes for a thrilling end to the season.

Football is a team sport, and as a player myself, I can say that team spirit is a crucial component that is ahead of individual quality in the pursuit of success.

Team spirit cannot be coached, bought or fostered overnight, and it is with this that Liverpool have the advantage over the more expensive teams of Chelsea and Man City.


This article was published on April 15 in The Straits Times.

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