Liverpool go into their title defence with a lot of pressure on them to perform, with yet another rival club’s legend attempting to stir the pot.
What’s been said?
We go into this season with a different mentality to any of the last 29 previous seasons. With the murmurs about asking when are we going to break our Premier League duck, now, the question is if we can retain it or not.
It’s a big season for us, there is no getting away from it. I’m sure Jurgen Klopp and the players are fully aware that there is a lot of eyes on them this season to perform at a title-winning level.
But that isn’t so easy to achieve. That is what former Manchester United Rio Ferdinand stated. The ex-England international won six league titles with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, winning three-in-a-row between 2007 and 2009.
Speaking before Arsenal visited Fulham on Saturday, Ferdinand explained what it’s like to defend the Premier League crown and what we need to do to achieve it.
Will Liverpool retain the Premier League in 2020/21?
“If they weren’t prepared for it, they will be”, he told BT Sport.
“Every single game will be like a cup final for the opposing team. You’re the team to beat now. You’re the team that’s been put up there with a target on your back, and you’ve got to perform week in week out. No days off if you want to retain that title.
“Retaining it is one of the hardest things to do. As a champion, you’ve got to go out there and perform every single week, and again as I said, you are now the targets.
“I’m sure Klopp will be drilling his players for that and the players will have understood and heard that from people like myself, across the media, that retaining it sets you apart. That’s another target now.”
Our time is now
As much as I don’t like to agree with him, Ferdinand is right about this. Now is the time to see whether we are a top team or not. Having not made any major signings this summer, it will be difficult for us considering the strengthening that Manchester City and Chelsea have done.
Sure, we are entering unchartered territory. But we have players in the team that had either won titles in England or other countries before. The winning mentality in our squad has evolved from players like James Milner and Virgil van Dijk. Leaders all around the dressing room.
We mustn’t make the same mistakes as previous first-time champions. Both Manchester City and Leicester City spring to mind in the past 10 years, concerning both the 2012/13 and the 2016/17 campaigns. They did little to improve their teams and found themselves way off the pace as their fingers slipped from the crown-topped trophy.
It is crucial that we don’t fall into the same proverbial venus fly trap.