Do You Know - For Certain - What's Wrong With Liverpool This Season?
Applying Julia Galef's Lessons on Mindset to Our Understanding of the Reds' Failures This Season
It’s been a tough season for Liverpool Football Club: from quadruple hopefuls on the verge of ‘completing’ football, achieving the impossible, and marking themselves down as arguably the greatest side ever to play the sport; they fell agonisingly short, edged out by a point in the Premier League; heartbroken by one of the most remarkable goalkeeping performances in Champions League history as well as distracted and shafted by the corrupt authorities in Paris, and shambolic organisation skills of UEFA. It was an emotional ride.
It has been an even more emotional fall from grace: rumours of Klopp taking overall control of transfers; Micheal Edwards - then his replacement Julian Ward - as well as Ian Graham et al, leaving their posts behind the scenes. Pep Lijnders’ increased influence, for better or worse, over our tactics, and even our transfers. Relying on AI technology to make team selections, and control our injury prevention polices. All rumours. All whispers. Or, just maybe, there’s large chunks of truth in it all? Whatever the validity, or the cause of our failure, the descent has been drastic and dramatic.
We currently sit ninth in the Premier League table, 19 points behind, wait for it, Arsenal. Who saw that coming? Nobody. We’ve been outplayed by both Brighton and Brentford in our last two league games, which is mindblowing when you consider how diametrically opposed their tactics and approaches were against us; one team was physical and direct, the other passed it around us like we weren’t even on the pitch. Worrying signs.
This isn’t a deep dive on our season though, there’s plenty of that to go around, and is of far better quality than I could do justice. Check out the Main Hub, the Zen Den or even Daniel Zambartas’ media round-up that’s now included in Free Friday and highlights the best analysis of our wonderful club from around the media landscape.
The key focus of this article is Julia Galef’s book ‘The Scout Mindset’.
Before explaining the core tenets presented ask yourself one question: do you know why Liverpool are failing this season? Have you argued with anyone about your conviction? Did you highlight their clear cognitive biases? Did the debate feel like a battle? Did their argument have any merit or valid points you agreed on? Well, hopefully, some of the key issues raised by Julia Galef in this book will be helpful in not only analysing what’s going wrong with our club at the moment (and crucially that those in charge also use these approaches) but also help when discussing it with Liverpool fans as well as supporters of other clubs!
What are the key points?
Galef highlights two key aspects of how we think - and react - when defending our own opinions: the Scout and Soldier Mindsets. This is particularly pertinent in the world of football fandom. Is often feels like we are “at war” with others - even fellow Liverpool fans - when it comes to discussing transfers, owners, new contracts for players, individual matches, tactics, and ticket prices. The list of potential disagreements is huge, and we’ve all been involved in them at one point or another. What first attracted me to The Tomkins Times was the fact it was a debate - and the key forum rule was ‘play the ball’, with no personal insults tolerated. It creates a context for nuance, for a wide range of opinion and encourages subscribers to get involved without risk of ‘being taken out’. The complete opposite to how football debates had existed previously in my life. Nevertheless, this season, with our beloved club failing, it appears that even some on TTT are falling victim to the Soldier Mindset. But before exploring that though, let’s dig into more detail about each type of mindset discussed in the book.