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Hox in the Box: The balance of power has shifted...
ThE Old Trafford corridors of power are echoing with murmurs of unrest last heard during days of permed hair and shellsuits.
A rumour so taboo that those who dare speak it risk being ostracised, cast out from the fold to spend the rest of their days in a cold water flat on the outskirts of Wythenshawe, their season ticket shredded into confetti.
Say it quietly, but Liverpool are title contenders.
It’s true. Although Brendan Rogers would be the first to deny such an outlandish accusation, secretly he must be rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of playing the role of underdog in the premier league dogfight that looks set to ensue.
A 4-3 home win against Swansea is hardly the mark of champions, but what it represented has far reaching implications for Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea. It spoke volumes of the impact Rogers has had at Anfield, that at 3-3 in the second half the focus became, not on whether Liverpool would throw away their lead, but about when they would find the winner.
In previous years home form against exactly that type of opponent has been Liverpool’s Achilles heel. In fact in their most recent title challenge two disappointing results against Stoke City put paid to their chances. That came about in 2008/9 under Rafa Benitez in a closely fought race against bitter rivals Manchester United.
But United’s fall from grace looks set to usher in a new era, and a new brand of football currently being pioneered on the pitch at Anfield.
Rogers had a clear mandate upon his arrival, and refreshingly for a manager at a big club, it wasn't focussed solely on winning cups (or one would assume so given recent exploits in the various cup competitions).
It was instead focussed on reinventing and reinvigorating a sleeping giant, to restore their presence at the top table of European football.
For Rogers and his disciples of patient, possession-based football it's been a journey of discovery, a journey that at times looked destined for failure, but now seems a roaring success.
Even without the promise of Champions League football Liverpool’s performances on the pitch this season have given cause fir real optimism. The reliance on Gerrard finally seems to be relinquishing, although a man of his ability will always find a way to dominate matches.
And although Luis Suarez is the main focal point up front, he is by no means the only goal scorer in the team. Even Jordan Henderson seems to flourishing in a way that seemed impossible under Dalglish; unburdened by the unrealistic comparisons with compatriot Gerrard he seems able to express himself in a manner more befitting his talents.
It's certainly a good time to be a Liverpool fan and come May, who knows, it may be another lot in red shirts celebrating the title.
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