LIVERPOOL: OVER-THINKING AND FINDING PEACE | The Anfield Wrap

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v AFC Bournemouth FCTHERE are times when I’m not sure whether I actually like football. I don’t have kids, but if I ever do have them I’ll be torn between introducing them to my immense love for Liverpool Football Club and a desire to help them avoid a life of pain and uncertainty.

There’s something about me you need to understand: Just like Simon Mignolet, I over-think everything. I’ll give you an example. I haven’t been used on any of The Anfield Wrap’s podcasts in recent weeks. Why not? Because I’ve obviously done something to mortally offend someone on the TAW team and now I’m persona non grata in the studios; like a Wirral version of Fabio Borini, only there aren’t any Sunderland-based podcasts that want to bring me in from the cold.

Now the truth is that Neil and the team have dozens of excellent people who are willing and able to contribute to the, frankly, excellent work that is being produced every single day as part of the TAW Player experience. He works hard to use the people on rotation as much as possible, keeping things fresh and ensuring as many different voices are heard as he can manage. Logically, I know that’s the way things work, yet I’ve spent the last couple of weeks racking my brain trying to figure out what I’ve done to upset the team, over-thinking every little detail of everything I’ve done recently.

As an actor I’m used to over-thinking things, too. I used to live with a casting director who told me about a project they were casting. One day they had an actress come in who my housemate told me was amazing. “She was hilarious,” they said. “She was exactly what the writer had written, made real.”

“Did she get the part,” I asked? “No. They wanted a blonde and she was a brunette.”

That story sums up the acting industry and everything that is wrong with it. Normally a role being cast has to be approved by any number of people, from the director to the producer and on up — even to the point that the director of Mercedes Europe has to give their go ahead before anything can be decided. So there can be any number of reasons why an actor doesn’t get cast in a role. But that doesn’t stop me from spending all week after my audition re-living every single moment of my time in the room, trying to figure out which specific thing it was that I did that annoyed the director to the point that I’ll never work in the industry again.

As I say, I over-think things.

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Manchester United FCWhat’s all that got to do with football, I hear you ask? Good question. Maybe nothing. Maybe it’s just a cry for help. (It’s not a cry for help).

The truth is that I don’t just think about football on Saturday for a couple of hours. It pretty much dominates my thought process at, well, any time that I’m awake. There’s been more than one occasion that I’ve been having a pint with a mate and realised that I haven’t been listening to a word they’ve said, but have been instead trying to figure out how Brendan Rodgers will get Daniel Sturridge and Christian Benteke to work together. I honestly think I’ve lost days watching @GoalsLiverpool on Twitter.

The days leading up to the match are all about who we will play where, how the team will gel together and whether the opposition will be too good for us. The days after are spent going over everything again, wondering what we did that led us to win, lose or draw. This week I’ve mostly spent my team winding myself up about the fact that so many pundits and journalists so quickly bought in to the idea that Bournemouth’s disallowed goal shouldn’t have been disallowed. It was a foul! He had one hand on Lovren’s shoulder as he was jumping and then added his second hand as they got into the air, how’s that so difficult to understand? Was it a ‘soft’ foul, as people like to say? Yes, but referees aren’t there to judge context, they are there to judge the rules.

Don’t even get me started on a week when Lee Mason is our referee.

The most frustrating thing about it all is that I’m not even that knowledgeable about football, to be honest. I used to think I was, and I know I’m a little bit more in the know about Liverpool and the way we work than some of my friends that claim to support the Reds. I’m fairly certain my brother thinks Michael Owen still plays for us. But then I came and did some shows with The Anfield Wrap lads and you realise you don’t know anything. Mike Nevin remembers what he was wearing when Liverpool won a match in 1987, for Christ’s sake.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds their week dominated by football. I’m sure there will be loads of you reading this who think I’m certifiable and want me to get some sort of professional help, but others will know what I’m talking about. I plan my life around when the Reds are playing. Been invited out for dinner? Sorry, it’s Monday Night Football. Got tickets to go to see a matinee at the Empire? Gutted, I’m going to find a stream of the Liverpool match.

Inevitably, as an over-thinker, I sometimes finding myself asking the question: Do I even enjoy this? Is it even fun for me any more? Of course it is when we win, and I’ve now got my sulking when we lose down to an hour or so unless it’s a big match. But then I’ll go on Twitter and I start to lose my rag again.

I’m not one of those people that can ignore the idiots — I have to explain to them why they’re stupid. I don’t know why I do it to myself, there’s literally no point. But there I am, tweeting some twonk at 11.30pm because they said Rodgers is a fraud. When we beat Bournemouth 1-0 on Monday night I sent a tongue in cheek tweet out saying: “Anyone remember what happened the last time #LFC started the season with some unconvincing 1-0 wins?” The replies sent me potty.

“Yeah they strung us along and broke our hearts in the end”, was one. “Yeah we lost the league at the last hurdle” was another. My favourite, though, was the fella who said, “Yep. Suarez came back into the team and we actually started scoring. What’s the equivalent of that here?”. Well, question asked, Sturridge as the answer. “Sturridge plays for us? Could have fooled me. Wish he’s over his injuries but count on it at your own risk”, came the reply.

I over-think things, I think I’ve made that clear. But I’m actually a relentlessly positive person as far as Liverpool FC is concerned. If these other people over-think things like me but do so in a non-stop wave of negativity, how are they still alive? How haven’t they crumbled under their own sense of misery or, worse, become an Evertonian?

These are the times I’m not actually sure if I like football. I know I do, deep down, but faced with the stupid and the morbid I don’t know what the point is. If I have a kid I wonder if I can really subject them to a life of over-thinking everything that happens and having to put up with morons. Especially as it seems to be getting worse year after year.

Then I remember Istanbul. I remember two seasons ago. I remember all of the times that Liverpool Football Club have lifted me on to a plain higher than any drug ever could. I remember standing arm in arm with a mate of mine when the Reds were taking their penalties against AC Milan; I remember running out of the pub and jumping up and down in the street, looked at like a mad man by a couple walking past. I remember phoning my dad as Steven Gerrard lifted the trophy and the pair of us not knowing what to say, just letting the joy flow down the telephone. I was 100 miles away from him that night but I’ve never felt closer to him. A bit of over-thinking is nothing compared to that.

Now, who will we play against Arsenal?

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