Morning seems strange, almost out of place.
Searched hard for you and your special ways.
These days, these days
Ian Curtis (Joy Division & England, 1980)
God knows what Ian was on about. He was mooching about in Macclesfield/Manchester neck of the woods in the 70s. I don’t think he was really into his footy, and given the parlous state of City and United back then who could blame him. Some biographers reckon he was a United Red, but I doubt he really gave a shit about them.
Who do you support E ? Erm, United. Yeah, United. Man United? Yeah, Man United, why not.
These days. These Days.
Curtis had some big fish to fry. He’s someone I really admire, and I’m glad he didn’t apparently share my passion for football. He had plenty to be getting on with, and he knew didn’t have much time.
I think if he had anticipated a longer life, he would have found football. He would have really gotten it. I’d like to think he’d have looked down the M62 towards the mighty river city, and its mighty Scouse Reds, and thought, I’ll have a bit of that. He’d have defected. Converted. He’d be our Mark E Smith.
These days, like this today, are not so numerous that we can ever take them for granted. You love The Reds. Of course you do. Why else would you be wasting precious time reading a blog on a football fan website?
You’re very excited about today. I’m very excited about today. This day.
Napoleon, god love him, used to talk about ‘journees’. The days. Their importance was implied. By grouping and pluralising, folks back in post-Bourbon France knew what he was on about. The swathe that the Grande Armee cut across late 18th/early 19th Century Europe was not to be matched until The Reds of Shankly and Paisley repeated the trick with 6 European trophies in 12 years in the 1970s and 80s (for decency and poetic licence I’m airbrushing Hitler out of this, ok?).
What Napoleon was on to, was the knowledge that great things/occurings are only the sum of your greatest days. Those times when you feel that everything has been building towards a moment. It will happen today, or it will not happen at all.
In our footballing lives – in our Liverpool supporting lives – there have been days. As the seasons pass, I’m beginning to realise that you count the joy or the pain that they bring you not in trophies or lost finals, but in days.
How many trophies did we win under Rafa Benitez, for example? It was two. How many days though? How many days did we have under Rafa Benitez? I’ll give you five in the 05 season alone – Olympiakos, Juve home, Juve away, Chelsea home, Istanbul.
I’ll bet you can more or less remember what you were doing on each of those five days.
That was then, and this is now. This is truly a day.
We’ve already had 2 days this season – United home, United away. Now is our third.
Of course, fate may render this one as forgettable and as anti- a day as the UEFA cup Quarter Final of 2003. That year we went up to Glasgow and got a nice 1-1 at Celtic. Brought them back to Anfield, with expectations raised for a big night, with a big atmosphere and all set for the march towards the Semi Final and beyond.
Freeze frame. What happened next?
I couldn’t remember. Hadn’t got a clue. I’d erased it. Deleted and made space in my cloudy memory for better days. Winning days.
Then I was reminded by handsome John Gibbons that we lost the second leg at Anfield 2-0 to Glasgow Celtic. It all came back to me. A day I’d chosen to forget.
Let this not be one of those days. The anticipation far exceeds that of 2003. Far exceeds that of the Benfica Quarter Final tie of 2010. This feels like it has more in common with those ‘journees’ of the UEFA Cup campaigns of 1973, 1976 and 2001.
Some proper punditry then to get the juices flowing.
Borussia Dortmund have risen like a black and gold phoenix from the ashes of the first part of their 2014/15 campaign, and are now standing again on the toes of Bayern Munich. Suddenly you look at their team and you see names everywhere – Hummels and Reus and Mikhitaryian and Aubamayang. Then there’s others we didn’t know who we now know – like that Wiegel kid in midfiled. He looks some player.
Borussia Dortmund are really good. That is why this is such a big day. If we beat them, we will be in a European Semi Final. We will have eliminated Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund in doing so. Our span will be broader, our chests puffed out. Like defiant demented seagulls. We will suddenly have a season on our hands.
When we bought into Jurgen Klopp as our manager, it was because we believed he was put onto this earth for these days. Jurgen has looked different in his pre-Dortmund press conferences. He looks steeled. Ready for the challenge. The time for winking, and grinning, and coaxing and charming is over. This is business. This is war.
We can tie ourselves in knots second guessing the manager’s possible team selection for tonight. I’d like Jurgen to be bold as brass and start with our two strikers. There are stirrings in that Sturridge/ Origi partnership. Let tonight be their night.
Mainly though, Liverpool must be manly. Jurgen says brave. Only bravery will win this type of day. All players have it in them to give a range of performances. This is one where you’re at the upper end of your personal scale or you aren’t worthy.
Let’s not waste any more of each other’s time. We have a day to get on with.
Onwards reds. These are the days.
My hopeless guess at a legendary LFC 11 :
Mignolet; Clyne, Sakho, Lovren, Moreno; Can, Allen; Coutinho, Lallana; Sturridge, Origi
Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund kicks off at 20:05 BST. If you are in the UK, and not fortunate enough to have a ticket, it is live on BT Sport. The bookies have Dortmund as favourites to win the tie at 7/5. Liverpool are generally 2/1 with the draw 13/5.