COUTINHO swings it in and he rises resplendent, red resplendent, and he nods it across goal and it is there, it is there, and we are there and I surge forward and fall backwards and I am seven and I am just in awe of this hero; of this man who has gone and done the simplest and best thing in football again.
And there he is wheeling away, just arching away, and doing the thing — the natural thing — making ball meet net in front of all those people, those people — our people — exactly when we needed and deserved it when those other Reds needed and deserved it and it is there, bouncing being there, and I remember Tyldesley commentating for Radio City saying things were there; listening obsessively to things being there on repeat on a tape recorder knowing that it being there is the purest thing and that is what he does tall and strong and there it is when all we did was need and deserve it and there he was this hero when he was needed rising rising rising and I am surging forward and falling backwards.
And I am 17 and there he is in front of the Kop end and he’s everything you’ve ever wanted isn’t he? But he isn’t perfect and he can’t be; he is flawed and he is gnarly and he is badly like us and like me because he just is, he just has to be, and being 17 I just love the fact he leads my gang and he clears things off the line and celebrates and he gets sent off because I’d get sent off and he blams them in and he celebrates in front of the Kop end and he does all the things, all the football things, that someone like you could never do but would want to do.
He finds the way to make his mark in Merseyside Derbies and against Manchester United and he is in front of the Kop end celebrating, standing tall, being Liverpool. And he makes you want to feel like a teenager until you remember the feelings of a real life emotional teenager and then you think again and he probably has to deal with all that too all the time and how can you deal with all that? And as it bubbles up tears sting and you feel stupid. Stupid. Stupid because you are 17 and it is stupid to feel like this about a game because I should be too cool but tears sting as he is there at the Kop end and I am surging forward so no one else sees and falling back because I can’t keep going forward.
And I am 27 and it is 2008 and he is capable of everything and the players crowd him, these lads who understand him, and perhaps understand us through him and he is mobbed and I think what a set of lads how I wish they were my lads as they are his and I love that his lads extend off the pitch but I am sensible now as he is mobbed and know it can’t be him alone because football doesn’t work that way and that Roy needed The Rovers and that anyway balls looping over the line isn’t everything and that jobs still need to be done.
But there he is and I am with him and them anyway because you know this and that and then I am surging forward and falling backwards as the mob dies down and as I do so it is 2014 and he seems so happy as the mob lets him go and he looks at the Kop end and sees himself in them and he seems so happy and he raises his arms and he is this man who isn’t perfect who isn’t going to win the league but who has carried everything and there in that moment he is our man and we should walk around him because he has carried everything and no one should have had to but this is part of being old — which I am and he is — that you are left with the imperfections and all the flaws but then you have to make the best of them and nod the ball anyway and lift your arms and these lads and lift these lads because they need lifting and they need a bit of saving even if he’s the one who has got them into trouble on occasion.
Because there is this understanding between him and them and there is this understanding between you and him now because you know what I’ve been around some blocks and got a ton of things wrong as well but I don’t get to do this lifting only to be lifted and he does that and I should just walk around him but instead I surge forward and fall back and I am here and it is now and he walks away from the Kop end and walks along the Centenary fist pumping stalking his way along and tears sting because I am stupid and wrong and vulnerable to the passing of time and because he isn’t superman and he never ever was because he hasn’t got that league and he hasn’t delivered it to me or to us and I know he isn’t superman because no one is and no one can be and no one has endless miracles but I know I want one more because I am that stupid and sentimental and foolish and because this football club and city is bloody daft and he carried all the daftness and he probably shouldn’t have bothered because while he isn’t perfect we most definitely aren’t and he pumps his fist and he walks back to the centre circle and Jordan Henderson touches his cheek and I don’t know what happens next but I know enough to know we all move on and I know that he does to and Jordan Henderson touches his cheek and we all get to be human and sweet and flawed and brilliant and that is all anyone can do.
Liverpool v QPR: Player ratings
Liverpool v QPR: Post-match Pink show
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Have gotten loads of abuse from everywhere including our own fanbase (fuck those guys) this year, but still has the ability to score the big goal. Should’ve been on the end of corners more often in his career. Gonna miss him loads
QPR are fucking dreadful though, fuck, they really are shit. Onuoha had money on us, probably
Probably why I love football so much. Steven Gerrard. When I was 12-15, my idol, my hero, just everything that was Liverpool FC. Samba goal. Small field in Huyton. Adidas Predators. Long rangers. Crunching tackles, sending a kid 2-3 years younger home crying. Endless hours spent in class staring from the window, waiting for the bell in Cardinal Heenan , where he went (exactly what I told everyone that didn’t know with sheer pride), to get out on the lovely glass to ‘put one in the top bin’. For those joyful 6 hours until there was no more daylight… hate it when that happens. I knew I never was but meant so much just wanting to be him!
Great piece. Bloody hell, there’s going to be a void, isn’t there?
I just wish he was really calling it a day, rather than going to a weaker league to fade away.
Never mind all that: Champions League qualification is on again!
Chelsea beat Crystal Palace today, sewing up the league title, and take their eye off the ball next weekend. 3 points to Liverpool.
Crystal Palace beat Man U at home. Entirely plausible.
Gap down to a single point.
Liverpool beat Crystal Palace at home. 3 points.
Man U draw with Arsenal at home. Entirely plausible.
Gap overturned, Liverpool 2 points ahead.
Both Liverpool and Man U win their last game, both away (Hull and Stoke respectively).
Liverpool 4th, Man U 5th.
It’s ON, I tell you! ON!
If only we had beaten West Brom and Hull…
And there lies the rub. We are going to regret not showing up there.
We will get nothing out of the plastics. Maureen would love to ensure we miss CL qualification.
Well I’m going to believe. Three games to go. Mess of a season. Why not?
If you won’t believe, what’s the point?
So you expect every fan of the other 88,000 FA registered teams to say “fuck it, what’s the point” seeing as they really have zero chance of making top tier and playing with the best in Europe?
Be as deluded as you like. If you’re so confident, put a grand on LFC coming 4th.
I’m not saying “believe in your team getting all the way to the elite of European football” per se. I’m just saying, “believe in your team’s ability to get 9 points from 3 games and the possibility of a rival getting 4 points from 3 games”.
Stage one complete.
We need to get some cash together to fly a plane over shit Trafford and give it back to them!
Van Gaal out Moyes In
Nice piece Neil. It felt like his last game yesterday- not sure why. His last act. It’s been brilliant . The fact that he’s been getting grief from some of our fans is pathetic. We’ll move on but it’s hard to see how we can replace him.
lovely article. I had a bit of a cry when that header went in. Really going to miss him.
The penalty miss makes the header even more of a moment. His career is like the story of a flawed hero; like the batman of footy or something.
Arrigo Sacchi banging on about tactical nous can kiss me arse; Gerrard’s an all time giant of the game. End of story.
(Also, to whoever indulged in *that* cringeworthy manc behaviour: you simultaneously made everyone involved in LFC at any level from fans to players to managers past and present look like tits. Played.)
If we could get 4th, it’ll be the biggest comeback since Istanbul. But I’m not holding my breath…
You’re not fooling anyone. A wise Scouser once said, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
I just hope the fans give the players a lift to the end of the season, remind them that we’re behind them.
What a captain he was/is. His performance have obviously plummeted this season but even as a shadow of his former self he rescued the three points for his yesterday and nearly inspired a similar houdini act against Basel. Food for thought for Henderson – being a captain is about more than token arguing referees and opponents
A really lovely piece that. Every bone in my body *knew* he would miss that penalty. It fitted the narrative of his last years at the club. Despite his great spot-kicking record beforehand – maybe because of – I’d have given anyone any odds that he’d miss. No bone in my body though felt that after having missed it, he’d go on to barge through two defenders, get his head on the ball, into the net, show the entire team what desire means… but that’s ‘cos he’s Steven Gerrard.
Seriously, you arseholes, recidivists, naysayers, smartalecs, tacticians, wahwah, he can’t play the base of a diamond, vangaals, legsavgorn, philcollins… just fuck off. You saw that goal? That was a goal. And you won’t get that ever again.
Sheringham,Giggs,Wilkins,Robson,Stuart Pearce and even Nigel Winterburn.They all played till they were “old men”.The difference was that they weren’t criticised for not running around like 2 year olds because their teams were set up to let the others do that sort of work and the “old men” just delivered the right ball at the right time.And got into the “right” positions.Sometimes just strolling there.
Makes you think though: Costacurta,Pirlo,Maldini,and there’s quite a few more much older than Gerrard.
But his game is all about his running around like a 2 year old. I have said many times that I think he has been our greatest ever player – and I go back as far as Billy Liddell – but I can’t wait for his career with us to close. Right now he’s taunted by lifelong Chelsea fans – people who’ve been committed blues for more than 12 months – with ‘the slip’. He deserves a better legacy than that.
Really excellent piece of writing Neil,
So we are just glossing over the whole ‘for most of the game we struggled against quite easily the worst team in the league, but due to a late winner everything is rosy again in the garden, nothing to see here, move along’ thing then?
I think the article was really a heartfelt homage or acknowledgement of a soon to be departing (admittedly slightly flawed) genius who has almost singlehandedly ensured that there have been at least some roses in our rather barren garden over the last 10+ years. That we have struggled so frequently this season has been the subject of many previous musings and asking why (and what might fix it) will no doubt be the focus of many more to come.
Just enjoy it for what it is; don’t criticise it for what it never was.
Ahh i was in a shit mood! ;)
Winning ugly against a relegation scrapping team? I’ll take it every time, especially if Captain Fantastic is going to go out with elan.
What are you even talking about?
How is this a match review?
Stop trying to be poetic, and just review the match, please?
No idea what this piece is about.
Ah right, I thought it was a match review that’s all….y’know, given the title an all.
We played awful, again. 3 points is flattering to be honest.
No teeth in this squad at all.