It is relatively easy to create a team of talented players. Simply send out your scouts to watch a player, sign him if you find him talented.
Teams do this yearly and acquire what they believe will be a top class player. Look at Fulham, they signed talented players such as the enigmatic Adel Taarabt, the engine named Scott Parker, clinical Dimitar Berbatov, Darren Bent, and Clint Dempsey.
Hopes were high, but now they sit at the foot of the Premier League table, likely to be playing Championship football next season. The majority of the us did not think they would be in this position.
Norwich? While not a top class team, they recruited skilled strikers in Johan Elmander, Ricky van Wolfswinkel, and Gary Hooper. While big things weren’t expected of Norwich, they were expected to score goals.
In total they’ve managed a combined eight goals. Then there’s Manchester United, the team that tends to disappear when things go wrong, blame it on referee decisions, and hide behind the spotlight.
A season is a marathon that requires skill, luck, and most importantly, character and determination. Football will have you playing your best, making your name the song of a nation, and months later, you could be the reason for a petition calling you to be cut loose by your team.
Self-belief and determination are centrepieces, they are the only weapons you have to stop yourself from becoming irrelevant when things are rough.
Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen are two individuals who understood this. After being forgotten by the Anfield faithful and almost being sold in a deal for an aging Dempsey, Henderson was all but forgotten.
Allen was another player who was relegated to the bench for much of this season. These players cost a combined £32 million. Instead of disappearing into the background, they seized the opportunities they were given.
Allen was given a chance in the last 25-30 minutes against Swansea to stabilize the Liverpool midfield. He accomplished that by winning more tackles than any player on the field, and intercepting a number of passes.
Henderson has started every Premier League match this season. Graeme Souness described him as a player “perfect for the modern game”.
Such is the character Brendan Rodgers has established amongst the team this season, with players wanting an opportunity to prove why they belong. Raheem Sterling was relegated to the bench towards the end of last season and the beginning of this season.
Given a chance, he has never looked back. Daniel Sturridge is another player who just wanted an opportunity through various clubs and finally when he was given it at Anfield, he blossomed into one of England’s best strikers. Chelsea are still struggling to find a striker years later.
All these players won’t always be the best throughout their careers, but what is certain is that they have in them the ability to prove their critics wrong and stand back up when their form dips and the determination to come back stronger.
So, if you ask me if I want a talented striker who complains about his teammates getting into “his spaces on the field” when things aren't going well for him (attention Robin Van Persie), or a player who works hard and doesn't blame other for his shortcomings, I’ll prefer the latter.
What else is fantastic is how well Rodgers has gotten these dedicated players to work together. Cohesion has been the identity of Liverpool’s play this season.
So it is relatively easy to assemble a Premier League side with talented players, it is also easy to find players with skill. However, separating yourself from the rest is having the dedication, mental acuity, accountability and passion.
In a world with a fine line between contenders and pretenders, they rise to create epochal moments which unite us in awe and wonder, or they manufacture moments of sadness and anger.
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