Ben-Johnson-Ident-69--1024x301I ALLOWED myself to wallow for half an hour on Wednesday night. Immediately after the final whistle, I was overcome by a need to sit down. To sit down and worry about how long it was going to take to get home, how much I had spent in the process to date, whether we would ever find our hotel in the bowels of the Basel red-light district and whether I could face a pint after the match.

I worried about the Reds. I worried that losing in finals might become a thing that happens to us. The limitations of the squad were amplified by the manner of the defeat and the state of mind at the time. No good remained. Just error-strewn lads with best intentions but ultimately no bottle. I worried about the amount of time left on Albie Moreno’s contract.

I worried about the rain, how long it would take to get back into town, and whether anywhere would be open when we eventually got there, soaking and depressed like big sad otters. We walked out of the ground and into the rain-soaked night and moaned. A big collective fuck off moan.

I also found myself worrying about the atmosphere in the ground and the performance of our end, or three quarters, or whatever it was.

It was a weird collective of fans to be honest. Part regular match goers, part uber Scouse European away specialists who have possibly been priced out of regular attendance, part tourist fan who doesn’t go but could afford to travel and had to be there after missing Istanbul, part members who went to eight games all season and qualified for a ticket, part corporate people in suit jackets and New Balance. The result was a bit of a microcosm of Anfield, a very reactive crowd rather than a proactive force for good.

This bit was good though:

It’s easy after the event, but our end was pretty shit once the game kicked off until we scored, and pretty shit once they scored the first. I’m not really sure why. All day in the square the crowd was bouncing, people singing, dancing, laughing with mates. Same on the way to the ground, same in the ground until kick off. And then it died. As soon as the Reds weren’t pissing it, it died.

It could be down to something as daft as everyone’s hangovers starting to kick in. It could be that everyone was nervous. It could be that we are just used to these big games and we need to know we are going to win before we commit. It could be down to the fanbase and the dilution of traditional support with a bandwagon full of people wanting entertaining.

Whatever it is, It needs work though and I’m not sure how it will improve without some form of intervention.

So I’ve put a call into the club about a mindset test for members, season ticket waiting list people and for existing season ticket holders. Goes something like this:

Q1: Are you sound?

a) Yes
b) No

Q2: If Prince plays in the ground before a big match do you dance and sing along or do you go on about him removing his ribs and being dead?

a) Dance along and sing
b) Removal of ribs and deadness

Q3: Have you ever smuggled ale into the ground?

a) Yes
b) No

Q4: Are you willing to take a three-day course in match-going song writing to inject a bit of life into the Reds’ songbook?

a) Yes
b) No

Q5: Do you think George should stay on as the Anfield DJ or should we sign the fella from Basel who played rock ‘n’ roll music by The Beatles, There She Goes by The La’s, 1999 by Prince and Pure by the Lightning Seeds?

a) Sack George and get Basel man
b) Keep George.

Q6: Do you like karaoke?

a) Yes
b) No

Q7: Do you think the existing song for Klopp is shit and should be replaced by this to the tune of Taylor Swift, Shake it off:

The Reds r gunna play play play play play
And the Blueshite’s gonna hate hate hate hate hate
The ground is gunna shake shake shake shake shake
Jürgen Klopp, Jürgen Klopp
Oh oh oh
Jürgen Klopp, Jürgen Klopp
Oh oh oh
Jürgen Klopp, Jürgen Klopp
Oh oh oh
Jürgen Klopp, Jürgen Klopp.

*Repeat to infinity*

a) Yes
b) No

Football - Liverpool Announce Jürgen Klopp as new manager

Q8: Can the Reds win the league next year?

a) Yes
b) No

Q9: Is the alcohol ban while watching football in any way legitimate?

a) No
b) Yes

The results of the quiz will be as follows:

All As: You get to keep your ticket and two of your mates get to sit either side of you
At least one B: You get your ticket taken off you, you’re barred from Anfield and sent to live in one of them nonsense satellite towns (if you don’t already come from there) and made to sign some sort of register.

I’m not expecting the club to get back to me about the test if I’m honest, basically because they think they know best while being full of incompetence. As such, going into next season, can we all have a big think about our own mindset?

Mindset is key here. Absolutely key. Liverpool Football Club is so successful because of its collective positive winning attitude. This has been developed and passed down year on year, like a traditional family recipe. It is what holds us apart from other clubs; other shite clubs that used to be a bit successful. Like Everton.

My major worry is that we are starting to see the erosion of this mindset. Starting to see it nibbled from the inside by people weary of modern football and unsure who to take their frustration out on so they focus on our players. Eaten away by an army of whoppers who demand instant success from their room in their mother’s house because they have just won the treble on Football Manager while not having had a wash for three days. Eroded by the instant gratification society we now live in and the online ‘I was right all along’ arms race of social media.

Mindset matters because it genuinely can influence outcomes. We need to create an atmosphere of success, enjoyment and fun inside Anfield and, whenever needed, we need to play our part.

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Manchester United FC

It’s positivity versus negativity. Convince yourself you will have a shit time and, more than likely, you will. Convince yourself somewhere is dead expensive and ill-suited to host a cup final and you will probably find yourself confirming your own bias. I thought Basel was sound and I didn’t think it was that expensive. That said, I didn’t have a clue what them mad notes were all about and I haven’t checked my bank balance yet so I might have to retract that last bit.

I was snapped out of my temporary negative attitude by some boss mates, a fella selling pints, a bar with a boss name (Baragraph), music, dancing, going to three brothels where we (purely for purposes of alcohol), drank, laughed, danced, talked, lost the key to the brothel we were staying in, found it again ( a day later in a secret pocket) and by the end of it all everything seemed alright again.

Convince yourself the Reds are beyond hope and Klopp is shit because he has lost five cup finals on the spin, at different teams, against different opposition, who predominantly had more money, better players and spent more on wages than his team (Seville probably the exception) and you might win an argument, against yourself, because you have got no mates and you are a boring arse who no-one wants to knock about with apart from your bird (but she thinks you are a prick and is only with you because she doesn’t want to be lonely and her mother thinks you are nice enough).

Why can’t we win the league next year? Why can’t we enjoy going the game with our mates? Why can’t we have a drink inside and sing boss, new songs?

If Kloppo had a season ticket and he answered that fan competency quiz he would be sat next to his two boss assistants, dancing his head off and believing that the Reds are on the verge of greatness. His mindset is fixed and is one of absolute positivity.

Who are we to argue?