Using your setbacks to fuel your future success like Liverpool FC

“We proved we are fuelled by disappointment and learning and going again the next year.”

A setback is a platform for a comeback

Everyone thinks that being a footballer is an easy job where you experience one high after another

The opposite is the truth for many

Losses of confidence, self doubt and big efforts bringing little reward is so often the story

But when you do suffer setbacks how do you use them?

Do they kick you on to a new level or do you allow them to hold you back?

In this blog we will look at how newly crowned English Premier League Champions Liverpool FC have used their setbacks to kick them on to new heights




Enter James Milner

Whilst getting interviewed with Andy Robertson for the BBC on the night they were confirmed as English champions he said

“We proved we are fuelled by disappointment and learning and going again the next year.”

Learning from setbacks and using them to kick you on is a choice

Never forget that

Milner and Liverpool chose not to allow their setbacks to define them both individually and collectively




It is easy to see the Premier League, Champions League, Super Cup and FIFA club world cup medals but what about everything that went before those things?

Look at Liverpool’s record in cup finals under Jurgen Klopp before winning the Champions League in 2019

League Cup final loss v Man City in 2016
Europa League final loss v Sevilla in 2016
Champions League final loss v Real Madrid in 2018

Not to mention finishing the league season as runners-up to Manchester City in 2019.

In that season they amassed 97 point and only lost one game all season but lost the league by one point. Their points total was the 3rd highest total in English Premier League history

Talk about suffering setbacks

But they regrouped and went again. They used the pain from going close in each of those finals to drive them on to future successes

Just like you can CHOOSE to do

All those setbacks built a stage for a comeback to show that they had indeed learned from previous setbacks. Their trophy haul since then has included 4 of the biggest trophies in club football




It is evident if you look at Liverpool since Jurgen Klopp took over that they have progressed as a team but also progressed as a group of individuals

In the last 5 seasons they have finished 8th, 4th, 4th, 2nd and eventually became champions

Furthermore if you look at the Liverpool team v Real Madrid in the final that they lost in 2019

The next season they came back a new animal

Although they had been beaten in the Champions League final their belief had grown

The result or the performance level in a game doesn’t dictate what you take from an experience

You do

It’s too easy to take only helfpul things from victories and only unhelpful things from defeats

That doesn’t make any sense

I bet there is a setback that you have experienced that you have allowed to hold you back all because you think that the setback determines how you think and feel about it as opposed to you deciding those things?




Going back to Jurgen Klopp’s 1st press conference at Liverpool he said he wanted Liverpool fans to change from being doubters to believers

He also said that “If I sit here in four years, I am pretty confident we will have one title.”

Hindsight has shown that he has went on to deliver numerous titles as Liverpool boss on a domestic, European and world stage

There was clearly a plan in place for bringing success to the club that he believed would work

I remember being at Anfield in December 2015 for a 2-2 draw with West Brom

After the game the players went to the Kop and showed the fans their appreciation

Liverpool, Klopp and the players were slated for celebrating a draw with West Brom

It seemed pretty obvious to me at the time that they weren’t celebrating the draw but they were showing the fans their appreciation for their support throughout the 90 minutes

Even in times where results weren’t going his way, he was losing cup finals and there was a lot of negative noise coming from outwith Melwood and Anfield

Klopp stuck to his guns

It is easy to change what you do after a defeat that leaves you hurt or when you get a bit on social media but if you believe that the systems and process’ you have in place are still correct

You have a duty to yourself to stick with them

Just like Klopp and Liverpool have done over the past few years

Maybe like Klopp in Champions League finals and Liverpool’s long wait for a league title your success might just take a wee bit longer than you thought at 1st?




Forgetting having travelled to Anfield for years to watch some right poor Liverpool sides I love the amount of stories that you can see weaving their way through their recent success

Jordan Henderson’s rise, Jurgen Klopp’s cup final record, Trent Alexander being a local lad, Andy Robertson playing in Scotland’s lower leagues to then put himself in the Liverpool history books

The stories are endless

But no matter what story you read, there will always have been a setback somewhere

A setback that was the platform for a comeback of the highest order

Maybe it’s not the setbacks that are holding you back

Maybe it is yourself?

*If you are a professional footballer who is struggling to overcome a setback drop me an email on john@footballmindset.co.uk or send a DM on the Instagram page and I will put time aside in my diary to try and help you work out what you need to do in order to overcome it and kick you on

They used the pain from going close in each of those finals to drive them on to future successes. Just like you can CHOOSE to do

By John Johnstone 26th June 2020