‘Everybody wants Liverpool to choke and fail’ – Former Reds skipper ramps up title pressure

Phil Thompson enjoyed considerable success at Anfield in his playing days and is aware that expectation weighs heavy on the class of 2019-20
Phil Thompson enjoyed considerable success at Anfield in his playing days and is aware that expectation weighs heavy on the class of 2019-20

Liverpool’s rivals are looking for Jurgen Klopp’s side to “choke, fail and collapse”, says Phil Thompson, with followers of just about every other team waiting to “mock” the Reds.

The wait for top-flight title success on Merseyside is about to hit the 30-year mark.

Liverpool fell agonisingly short of ending that barren run in 2018-19, with the hope being that they can drag themselves over the line 12 months on.

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An eight-point lead has been opened up at the Premier League summit, but former captain Thompson claims everybody outside of Anfield is looking for the Reds to endure more heartache.

He told Sporting Life: “I think this team has not only lived with the pressure but the expectancy of what 30 years without winning a title brings.

“I think nearly every Liverpool fan does not believe they will win the Premier League. They all know there is such a long way to go, so there is still an awful lot to be done. It is everybody else who is saying it is Liverpool’s league. On the flip side, they are hoping that they will choke, fail and collapse, as it will be good to mock Liverpool.”

Thompson, who won seven titles and three European Cups as a player, admits that the domestic crown is there for Liverpool to take, but admits there are still improvements to be made.

He added: “Everybody will say that Liverpool should win the title. I still say there is nothing guaranteed. It was a seven-point lead last year but everybody seems to have forgotten that! You have this great Manchester City side chasing them but you also have to point to the young Chelsea side and the emergence of Brendan Rodgers' Leicester team.

“Liverpool have won 11 and drawn one of their opening 12 Premier League matches, which is amazing, but you would have expected them to be even more points ahead. With the quality of those three teams, you cannot rest on your laurels.

“A defeat and a couple of draws and that soon gets clawed back. The only good thing is that Liverpool have played all of the big six and Leicester but, before the turnaround of games, City have to play Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Leicester, and come out unscathed. When we get to Christmas, we will know a little bit more.”

He went on to say: “Liverpool need to be focused. As a lot of the games have gone down to the wire this year, they cannot keep getting away with it, in the shape of late goals, some VAR decisions going in their favour, as well as injuries going for them. We have to keep injury-free, keep more focused in games, and start quicker, as we did against City.

“It is that little bit of luck, at times, the little bit of VAR going in your favour, that could equally go against you. Red cards will be massive too - you only need a red card and then your backs are against the wall, especially against the big boys. But the biggest one of all is injures. It has decimated City’s defence, and if they had everybody fit, they could have been a lot closer to Liverpool.”

Klopp’s side will be back in action on Saturday when they take in a trip to Crystal Palace.

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