MARILYN Monroe once said: “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” I’m not sure if she employed second sight and an interest in the 2015-16 league season, but her words do seem to meet the case. As things stand, Leicester City sit seven points clear at the top of the league with six games to go. This time last year they were seven points adrift at the bottom of the league. No-one saw this coming.
It wouldn’t have been too much of a flyer to assume back in August that an ex-Chelsea manager would win the league, but I doubt if many thought it would be this one.
This is infuriating and intriguing in equal measure. Had this bizarre concatenation of circumstances occurred two seasons ago when Liverpool were wiping the world aside with a nonchalance that bordered on arrogance, we would have pretty much been in the box seat.
In fact, I’ve just checked the stats and after 32 games — ironically, following a home win against Spurs — we had 71 points. That would put us two clear of Leicester and, by extension, nine points ahead of this Spurs incarnation.
Of course, back then we dropped five points in those final six games and that was enough to confine us to a second place and a 15-month hangover, but that return would have probably have taken us to the gloryland and tops off week-long parties in the palaces of the mighty.
Frustrating isn’t the word.
Things coalesce. Claudio Ranieiri had the serendipitous find of the decade in Jamie Vardy and the best centre-back pairing in the league in Wes Morgan and Robert Huth while, for their part, Spurs finally saw the Gareth Bale money settle into a genuine title challenge. Add to this the falling away of the others — the usual Arsenal quick, slow, slow, quick season, Chelsea’s implosion and whatever the hell is happening at Manchester City, and those two teams have snuck past them. Fair play to them.
Should Leicester win the league it will be the greatest achievement since Forest were promoted in 1977 and took the league the following season. I know, I know. Things were different then and almost anyone could mount a title challenge.
Derby County won the league in 1972 and little old QPR took us all the way in 1976 while Watford were runners up in 1984 and there’s little chance of things like that happening now, but that Forest achievement was incredible. As things stand they’re the only team in Europe to have won more European Cups than domestic league titles. Imagine Leicester winning two Champions League titles in the next two seasons. Exactly.
But in this maddest of all maddest years where are Liverpool? Well, that’s easy. We are in ninth place. Ninth bloody place. Low even when compared to our most vanilla of campaigns.
They say the table never lies but it seems that we’re somehow better than that. You’re either shaking your head viciously at that view or nodding in a ‘yes, I know what you mean’ fashion. We could have been siblings in a previous life, you and I.
Ninth with eight games to go. That’s pretty bloody awful, even when you stand it up with a justifiable mountain of caveats.
We’ve had our moments. The Europa League has been noteworthy, particularly our first tête-à-tête with Manchester United in Europe and we’ve been to Wembley and were a few dodgy penalties away (Phil) from silverware, but ninth just stinks.
How has that happened? Have we simply been beaten by our biggest rivals? Well, no. Spurs, Arsenal, City and Chelsea have yet to beat us over 90 minutes this season. Of course, us being us, means that the wettest United side in generations took six points off us, but that’s just what we do. If the stakes are high we can generally be considered to deliver, but if there’s a run-of-the-mill element or we’re getting somewhere, a Watford or Southampton can bloody our noses. Typical Liverpool.
We could have utilised our occasional fearlessness and harnessed it to our advantage while the football laws were having a year off but, as Presuming Ed points out at the end of Withnail and I, we have failed to paint it black.
And that’s infuriating. The enemy have left the back door open and we’re stood on the front step, drunkenly stabbing around our pockets for our house keys.
This sounds like I’m criticising the club. I’m not really, although everyone should look at ninth place — ninth? — and then at their own feet for a minute or two.
This season has been yet another of “transition” and, as Jürgen was knackered and needed to work on his tan, we couldn’t bring him in after the 6-1 debacle and throw an impressive transfer budget at him to get to work on things earlier.
Instead, he’s had to muddle through a season that was pretty much on its arse by the time he came in and was left with another man’s squad to do his work. It seems Leicester had the monopoly on miracles this season.
He’s done well, too. He’s stopped us clutching at each other’s throats for a minute, which in itself is something to admire, and he’s moved a few people, notably Divock Origi, up a few notches in their development. But you can’t expect anything. Events have conspired to lead Leicester to near nirvana while a knackered German, who quite rightly fancied a bit of time off, has taken away our shot at the title.
There is some good to come from this though and it’s this: Football has gone all quantum.
It’s true. The natural laws of football have all gone mad. You can take a measurement in one place but while you’ve made an assessment something odd has happened elsewhere.
Loads of teams have tonnes of crisp banknotes to throw at good players but it no longer correlates to anything quantifiable.
The two best strikers in the league have come from non-league while the other has been around the country on a litany of loan deals. We tried to do what you’re supposed to do and spent £32million on proven Premier League goalscoring ability. That went well. I’ll be amazed if he’ll bother buying his winter coat in town.
The old formulas no longer work if this randomness is to continue sufficiently long enough to become the norm. If Leicester can take the league with a lad from Fleetwood and Robert Huth then we can win it, too.
I mean, alright, others can do the same and Swansea City have as much chance as we do, but I subscribe to the idea of random particles flying off all over the show and landing in such a way that we blag a league. After all, we’ve tried logic and its inherent complications and short-fallings and we’re in ninth. Sodding ninth.
Okay, this isn’t much of a philosophy to build a workable campaign but so far this season I’ve seen West Ham win at Anfield, United beat an Arsenal side with two teenagers and a midfield who, shall we say, winter well. I’ve seen Liverpool score seven goals against City and Emre Can try to block a shot with his face while lying on the floor. This extends into my personal life, too. Last night, I witnessed my 65-year-old uncle belt out Some Might Say on karaoke at his own retirement party. Eyes screwed up in concentration while trying to shout the tiles off the ceiling. I’ve given up on rational thought and normality. All bets are off.
Every team has been susceptible to craziness at some point this season, save for Villa who have been reassuringly bad from start to finish.
Okay, I’m only half serious. God doesn’t play dice with the universe and all that and before too long a natural order will settle and the big money teams will take the big money prizes, but this season is a welcome one — a throwback to a time when there were more than four teams in with a shout of success.
It’s just a vicious shame that we weren’t ready or prepared for this typhoon of insanity, so while there’s a smile at Leicester for tearing up the league it’s accompanied with a sense of “bastards”.
At least the manager is a bit mad too so maybe we are prepared in some way should this continue.
That’s got to be worth something.
Were We Not Fortune’s Fools?
Why am I here now writing this posting this sweating on this because let’s face it you never know what’s really acceptable (Donald Trump political rallies obviously not the topic of this talk) but what’s become acceptable, what’s become the norm…this pernicious negative feeling that just won’t go away. It’s nurtured and fed by the internet and the idiotic chorus of the lemmings, those former Liverpool footballers cum pundits (though often they bleet more like sheep) that tells us what we aren’t what won’t and lends itself to this insane and insatiable drive few constant player replacement and gleefully clapping our hands cackling “warchest!” and “clearout!” like getting rid of players is half the fun of the game as opposed to something sucking the very beauty out of it. As such; my own change, or attempt at change. At least the perspective. Add some lyrics or a beat or find a rhythm and just flow but this article says what I believe: embrace the madness and let’s cherish the role our 13/14 run played in its creation and fruition and tell me something about our club, our players. I come in praise, long may that continue.
Sometimes we get what we don’t deserve. Liverpool FC does not deserve Coutinho. No really. Read this: http://www.calciomercato.com/en/news/must-i-really-leave-the-story-behind-coutinho-s-departure-to-liv-565137
What gloriously Liverpudlian Irony. The redemption of Rafa for f*!ks sake! What was Rafa’s Original Sin? Actually that’s a bit of a rhetorical question; it’s Rafa after all. Man was a bit mad.
Oh Alonso? Xabi Alonso! Off to Madrid? Surely not.
Thirty million quid in the days that meant something. My Days. My Nightmare: Gareth Barry cum Alberto I darenth Mention His Name replace Xabi Alonso. Sticks in the mouth, making it uncomfortably dry. And it’s because Rafa can be a stupid stupid stubborn man. May he never change. Coutinho is a decent balm to sooth that particular burn.
How’s the phrase to describe fortune’s favor? Like stars fall from the brows of archangels. Always fleetingly. Gerrard born in Huyton. Born in the shirt. Manic glory; bloody guts steel and utterly tragically human. Utterly Scouse. My respect for Liverpool is partially defined by Gerrard. He is an openly human immortal. Atlas who dropped the globe. Humbled by the world and yet the world could never humble him his world or his Club, slipped on his arse and watched his dreams dashed before millions of prying eyes. The club breathed Gerrard that year. We needed Gerrard and any other mortal dies right there; Ba may as well have scored with his very soul stuck fast under his spikes. But this is an Atlas who sees no cracks in the globe, only relishes feeling the familiar grooves of His City and His Club and raises it back up again. Who goes again. Who gave again and again until he literally could give no more. His legs gave. But he gave me 2013. 2014 too. That team was a dream machine and it produced brilliant bright beautiful memories during a personal pall, darkness fallen and Gerrard fallen. Showed what grace age had given him. Cinderella Man who’s not even afraid to cry. He was immense in every sense of that word. Beautifully flawed. It couldn’t be any other way.
That Coutinho arrived for millions is because he represents a different time than Gerrard, but arrive he finally has. Now while we speak in Moneyball and the names “linked” are even more exotic (i.e. never seen) and only in this world is that much money a bargain. But thankfully we get to live in this world; the one where the world is the ball poised like a ballerina frozen in time then snapping violently the vicious power unleashed from such small legs torqued through the twisting hips directed with the precision of a guided missile it smashes in off the crossbar and Anfield loses it’s collective fucking mind and I’m on my knees on the floor because he suddenly made sitting obsolete a release and that’s bloody good.
Pele described Coutinho as “like Socrates but faster”. Pele was close, deadly close but to be frank, I never saw Socrates play soccer. Coutinho is more like Plato’s ideal. The Calliopolis Guardian. A god damn Calliopolis Guardian come to life. No Divinity there; Guardians are immortal in heart and soul only. Plato would have loved Coutinho and how he plays the game with his brain so skillfully knitted into the Soul very soul of his samba inflected feet. His preternatural gift might be the impossible geometry of flicks turns and knuckling thunderbolts but those angles are created by equations only he can see. Formulas only he can execute. That’s Klopp’s genius and what he’s about. We all told ourselves he was too small and slight; surely he’d be “found out” by now? Wily and determined he’s 23 on the cusp of landing that tired old hag of a cliché “world class”. What other explanation exists for why no one has actually found out anything about him? Or at least how to take the ball off him. He fell into our laps because Rafa owed us back one (Xabi only proved irreplaceable you know). At least that’s my romantic notion. Mostly he was guilty of being human in a game where immortals aren’t waited for. They are supposed to be bought fully formed. So we saw our Atlas crumble; what rises anew? Now a Guardian, plucked on the cheap? A player driven by family and craving loyalty somehow found both. A place in our Chaos to grow and expand ferociously. He’s gone and lost that bit of fear and suddenly he’s finding the impossible space only the visionaries can see. He can move forward laterally, I’ve scarcely seen anything like it, still not sure whether to believe my eyes. Haven’t seen an athlete with that degree of coiled kinetic aggression since Denard “Shoelace” Robinson. You might have to YouTube that one. Denard Robinson moved like the divine, Coutinho is obviously not the same type of athlete but he’s got the same mechanically precise muscle control; the ability to stop and start his feet faster than an F1 car rockets off the line. Coutinho’s dive was so easy to spot because when have you ever seen him fall over? Please don’t mention that time he did fall over, we don’t want to be remembering runner-up medals. On a flippant note: Robinson was called Shoelaces because he never tied his shoes on the field; can we get something new here? Little Magician seems slightly disrespectful.
Football is often the quintessence of cruelty. Guarantees can’t even be bothered to throw another glance and thus Coutinho could disappear tomorrow, a mere flicker in our flame so to speak. There are others. But Coutinho feels special because we’ve watched him grow from a boy to a Guardian. Coutinho is ours in a way Suarez never was and truthfully never wanted to be but I think Coutinho wants us to believe in his dreams. Sometimes a star is simply too small to see while it falls and then one day it’s just there. And it sparkles and it is just so right. It’s there because it simply had to be.
The sweat of archangels? A beautiful metaphor for blind bloody good luck.
Get this guy signed up TAW. Mr Atko would kill to write prose as good
Yeah, but Atkinson can do Paragraphs.
Did you write this on your phone??? Amazing. Kolpack: nice work man. Totally agree, frustrating season specially when we glimpsed how great the reds can be against “big” teams only to lose to “small” teams.
Well truth be told he’s right about the paragraph thing. Everything between the title and the first reference to Coutinho I typed out as an attempt to justify the length of the comment as something more than an self-serving intellectual wank so to speak. The bulk of it I wrote in several places (txt messages Google Keep etc) then typed onto the computer.
The Atlas reference ir Gerrard is too risky to make typing on my phone thanks to my good buddy Ayn Rand.
But thanks mate, positive feedback just gives me new experiments to make.
Loved the original article because the Marilyn Monroe quote basically just set me on my peculiar way and that’s part of the beauty of a lot of the writing on here.
Really enjoyed your stream of consciousness/ fever dream comment Mathew. A little exhausting pace-wise though. Reminded me of one of my first year essays/ doc’ comm’s. Well done, good to see someone stretching the medium a little. :)
All of my writing prior third year at University was basically never proofread so it looked similar to something like that but not particularly coherent…or always on the correct topic for that matter.
Liverpool is partially defined by Gerrard. He is an openly human immortal. Atlas who dropped the globe.
Holy Shit TAW. How good is that?
Take a bow Son, take a bow.
Some of that was just beautiful. Even the lack of paragraphs gives the impression that it’s just pouring out naturally.
Two literary pieces for the price if one!
German efficiency will see us right!
Jesus titty f*****g christ..
I hope Leicester go down next season. How dare they? Who do they think they are? I don’t like it what they’ve done.
Marilyn fucking Monroe?
Boss reading there.
I read Marilyn Monroe was no fan of proper grammatical structure tbh…not big on punctuation either.
lit chic Marilyn Monroe and her mastication of the English language, poetry in motion, only on Taw
Here’s the Denard Robinson video that made me go back and watch a few Coutinho highlight compilations because the way they stop and start their feet at an absolutely unreal speed and use their incredible balance and flexibility to cut back at such freakish angles…it’s like before Playstation introduced the analog sticks and you just had the D-pad. Feet ankles and knees like that are just. Poetic.
Personally, I feel that this season is the lone outlier and next season will be more like the 20+ that preceded it.
Which makes our failings that much more annoying because there has never been a greater chance to win this league ( past 20 years ) than now.
I’d point at 13/14 and say that finishing second is probably a better chance at finishing first than sitting in 9th.
As far as I understand maths that is.
The 9th thing is a bit of a red herring for me. Yes we may be in 9th but don’t forget we have 2 games in hand on the two teams in 7th and 8th who are both only 2 points ahead. Win just one of these and we are up to 7th straight away and only 3 behind West Ham, who still have some tough games left so could easily be caught.
Still not great being 9th mind, but still nothing to be losing our collective sh*t over just yet; the time for that will be if we are still there on the 15th May!
(Can’t you tell I’m a glass half full kind of guy)