Liverpool has had many highs and lows over the years; however, their biggest achievement was winning the premier league in 2020. For the first time in 30 years, they were champions!
Champions in 2020
Wow, what a season it had been for Liverpool during 2020 premier league, and to come out on top and win, it was a huge achievement for the players, the coaching team as well as the fans. Within an article by the daily mail, Jurgen Klopp stated that the Liverpool’s win was ‘absolutely incredible’. This statement expresses how far Liverpool has come over the years and that they greatly deserved the win.
Luck or Confidence?
There’s no denying that Liverpool’s win wasn’t exceedingly amazing; however since the new season has begun, their performance has deteriorated. I began questioning the reasoning behind this, did they believe that they had a lot of power and therefore became overconfident coming into the new season? I believe this may be true and the inverted U theory has convinced my theory even more. The inverted U hypothesis is a theory within sport psychology which suggests that performance levels are a result of an individuals arousal level. Therefore, I believe that as Liverpool won the premier League in 2020, they expected their performance to remain to a high standard so they might have become overconfident.
Surprisingly for them, their performance levels began to deteriorate by a huge amount as compared to their games in the 2020 season as well as winning the league. Therefore, psychologically they didn’t feel that they needed to worry and put as much effort into winning their games. This caused them to be under aroused and beaten within the games that they had played in the current season. Almost all players who played for Liverpool in the 2021 season were the same players who had won last season. This could explain how the inverted U hypothesis is individually applied to each one of them and contributes to the team’s arousal levels.
You can learn more about the Inverted U hypothesis – Sportlyzer Academy
Could we suggest that teams should have new players or different players in the team after they have won championships so that they are just as hungry to win? Should this have been a wake up call for Liverpool?
Did COVID 19 break Liverpool?
The COVID 19 pandemic has been a challenging time for all individuals, it took a huge toll on the NHS, sport, schools; it practically broke the world. We can all agree that the comeback from this is tough, it’s something that none of us have ever experienced before. Within sport, COVID 19 has affected training schedules, athletes’ mental states and the fans’ ability to be able to support their beloved team in person.
The big question is…. Does their performance account for the consequences of stadiums being empty and there being no fans to support them, or is it psychologically specific to the athletes being separated from their families and their mental state during lockdown?
Let’s begin with the fans, despite being at home and supporting Liverpool through the use of social media and views on the television, the players themselves have found it difficult to adapt to this new way of life.
The atmosphere at any stadium is indescribable, especially at a football match. In an interview with a Liverpool fan, Liv, she mentioned that having no fans in the stands has had a “huge impact on the players’ performances as normally at a match, if an opposition scores against them, the fans would immediately start repeatedly chanting ‘Liverpool’. By doing this, it increases their team spirit and motivates them to continue as there are fans standing with them for moral support. Without the fans, we can only imagine that it is challenging for the players to keep unity and faith as they don’t have the support of the crowd; instead, they have an empty atmosphere and silence! Without the fans, Liv has stated that “They’ve almost forgotten how strong of a team they are and how strong the support from their fans is”. For as long as they have no physical interaction with their fans, the more likely they are to continue spiraling downwards.
From the outside, we don’t know what the players situations are behind closed doors; each and every athlete could’ve dealt with the impact of lockdown and COVID 19 differently. However, can we put this as a reason behind their deterioration and arousal levels? Some will agree, others will disagree. Every individual has been sailing on the same boat as each other through lockdown by not being able to see their families. This lack of interaction with loved ones could have caused the athletes to have their mind elsewhere, become demotivated and it could have affected their overall mental and emotional wellbeing as separation is daunting, especially in the current situation
Countless injuries and instability
From the beginning, this season didn’t take the achievement route that Liverpool expected it to. This was due to the number of injuries that occurred within players which left the team unknowing on how to adapt to these injuries. This meant that the players were out of play for the majority of the matches and training, if not the whole of the season. This was a big shock as there were 6 players off the field which for a new season was a high number of injuries.
The player which has affected Liverpool hugely this season is Virgil Van Dijk as at the beginning of the season he tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), as a result of this he will not return this season. Virgil’s departure affected the team as it was unexpected and as he was one of the main players. He was a leader and he played center-back; therefore, Liverpool lost a lot with just one injury. In an article from The Daily Mail, Jamie Carragher stated that he “doesn’t think that Liverpool could win the league unless they had a new center-back in place”. For Liverpool, this was additional pressure which also could have impacted their ongoing performances.
According to Liverpool fans, due to Virgil’s exit, the team had to make some rational decisions and move two of the mid-fielders into defense. This was a huge risk for Liverpool as they had never played that position before. As a result of this, they also changed a youth player into mid-field where he also hadn’t played before. These unexpected changes of events have affected Liverpool’s performance as within the team there is no stability causing them to be on edge due to the changes, which overall causes a decrease within their arousal levels and overall belief.
Will Liverpool be able to recover from this, or will their downwards spiral continue? Let’s hope for the best!
About the Author
Daniella Jordan will pursue Sports and Exercise Psychology at University in September 2021. She has competed in Gymnastics and Cheerleading.
Being an athlete was always something special to me. It gave me the confidence to become who I am today and allowed me to express myself while enjoying new opportunities. From a young age, I have been competing in gymnastics and cheerleading. My passion for sports and the happiness it gives me are indescribable.
I want to learn how the athletes manage their emotions, the pressures they are put under and any challenges they face when they compete in the sport. I am excited to learn more!