THE chippy was shut.
That wasn’t good. Everything had to be right and in its place. I’d met my mates, we’d shook hands and we’d discussed who would miss out in the midfield. I was a bit worried about the lack of Allen and felt that Coutinho should be rested. No way should Sterling make way. Sterling plays forever now.
But the chippy was shut and it got to me. Why was it shut? Why did I have to find a new one? This was new ground and I wasn’t ready for new ground. Not then. I wanted, needed, the tried and tested. I wanted undercooked chips and a fishcake which contained very little fish and was coloured nuclear orange. Nothing new. Not then. I wanted routine.
Superstition and football go hand in hand be it a sub touching the grass as he comes on or running out of the tunnel in a certain order. Look at Pepe’s garage routine. He must have been panicking during the fuel crisis a few years back. Look at him kicking the shit out of the posts before kick off in a certain order. He actually thinks that matters to the outcome of the game.
I’m not usually that bad. I like to use the same chippy but that’s about it. Oh, and I never look at the pitch until I’m in my seat. I also never sing the first verse of You’ll Never Walk Alone, although that could be something to do with waiting until everyone’s worked out what key we’re trying this week but none of this is especially peculiar. My mates have got some superstition going on about tins of tuna which I won’t even bother to explain as I’m not sure I could. It defies logic but so does the eight straight wins that have taken place since they started doing it so I’m on board. Jesus, am I on board.
Here’s the thing though. Superstitions are based on fear. If we dont do x we won’t win, like there’s something astrological about all this. It doesn’t matter to Liverpool though. Liverpool don’t care about that stuff. Liverpool aren’t arsed about superstition. Liverpool aren’t arsed about fear. Liverpool were supposed to be scared of Tottenham. They were our rivals for fourth place after all. Liverpool were supposed to be scared of Arsenal, United and Everton. The aggregate scores for those games being 9-0, 5-3, 4-0 and 7-3. Not much fear there.
The greatest element of Sunday wasn’t the score or Raheem’s cartoon running or the swagger which saw us romp away. It was the focus. Ordinarily, you go a goal ahead and sit for a bit while you let the opposition react to your lead. We didn’t do that. We celebrate the second more than the first these days as it means more to the result than a mere lead. No, we were like surgeons, dispassionately picking at them until they yielded ground. Two wasn’t enough even when it was. Three was good but we had time for another. The fourth became comedy and even then we wanted Sterling, the man who deserved the goal bonus more than any of them, to get one too.
What didn’t matter was Tottenham. They were an afterthought. Alright, they’re not the team they were and are now managed by a man who looks like he goes to the pub with his own pool cue in its own case but they’ve still got names. We didn’t so much as not show them respect as not show them anything at all. They became an irrelevance. Going for a top four spot, are you? Well you’ve got ninety minutes but you won’t want the last eighty eight of them. We’re going for the League now and teams going for the League do that to teams going for a Europa League place. That’s not arrogance on our part. That’s not cockiness. That’s a ninety minute statement of Liverpool 2014.
So often the crowd’s nerves alter the behaviour of the team. Jitters beget jitters but on Sunday it went the other way as their confidence led to an easy afternoon. Liverpool are happy to go toe to toe now and unless you’ve planned as Sunderland did it’s only going to go one way. You need three or four ways of playing to get past Liverpool and the only team capable of that level of variety is ourselves.
Superstitions are funny things. I’m glad my choice of rank chippy (and it really was) didn’t affect the result. I’m relying on the eleven stoical Reds on the pitch from now on and not bothering with avoiding the cracks on the pavement. I’m going back to logic and six more no fuss wins.
Pics: David Rawcliffe / Propaganda