ALTHOUGH I’ve had a week off, I was scratching my head to find something to write for today’s column.
There’s only so many times you can debate the merits of our goalkeeper, why Daniel Sturridge isn’t universally loved, why Joel Matip is so cool but above all, say that the Reds are boss again. With each passing week, “Can Liverpool win the league?” is becoming an increasingly rhetorical question.
Although the wider media are still to fully latch on to the Liverpool title bandwagon (no bad thing) only real pessimists can’t bring themselves to bracket us among the favourites.
So enough of all that. It’s staring us in the face. Watford next up on Sunday.
There’s a few Everton-style Reds clichés knocking about these days, but I prefer the mantra: Just Fucking Win.
One hundred and thirty words — how many I’ve written so far — won’t suffice. So, I’m using — not for the first time — Martin Fitzgerald and his surprise Anfield Wrap Facebook Live appearance, below, for my inspiration this week.
I started going to the away games in earnest again a couple of seasons ago. I’d turn up in a pub on away turf and Martin, always interested in my return, would routinely say: “Here’s Nevin again, reclaiming his life.”
Well, Martin’s now done the opposite — he’s rediscovering his mojo by fucking us lot off, jibbing his tiresome Nottingham supporters’ coach and the match itself — home and away.
When Fitzy turned up in Liverpool this week and was press-ganged into a social media cameo — which he described as “chatting to Neil while Robbo holds a phone” — Atko asked Martin was he needled by the Reds’ apparent assault on the title in his absence.
Looking so laid back he was practically horizontal, donning a smart shirt unbuttoned to the navel, there wasn’t a semblance of bitterness or any sense that he’s missing out. The clocks have gone back but Martin is still dressed for summer and he doesn’t give a shit.
Why? Martin has started to enjoy watching Liverpool on the telly. He’s even got time to see a bit of extra televised football, that going the game every week never allows.
After the opening 4-3 win at Arsenal there was a slight pang he admits for a jubilant away end, but then the consoling thought of that septic coach. Instead of contemplating another arduous trek watching people being sick on windows, Martin watched the post-match interviews, then switched the TV off and put a few tunes on. Fitzy enjoyed his very own private, post-match “Five from Fitzgerald”; all greedily kept to himself. Happy that his team has won, the only needle he’s interested in is the one he puts to his records after the match.
Inevitably, he then ran a bath; maybe even lighting a candle on the way in.
Martin hasn’t given up football. He’s just packed in going to it. Watching it on the telly is actually quite good, he reckons. He has even refused to go down the fashionable, easy line of slagging off the Sky and BT, even BBC pundits; adding that some expert summarisers can add to the experience of watching from home.
He also claims that three replays of Liverpool’s opener at Palace are preferable to my pillar box view of Emre Can’s goal, obscured on the left by a huge steel stanchion and on the right by Andy Heaton’s ear.
Ah, but could he get a whiff of another Liverpool end sponsored by Guy Fawkes?
Emre’s wasn’t the first goal I’ve missed this season. I’m half expecting LFCtv to run a “Goals so far; Mike Nevin Toilet Special” during the next international break. It would help me catch up on at least a couple of goal-of-the-month candidates I’m yet to see despite paying upwards of £30 for the privilege.
John Gibbons of this parish, planning to do all 38 league games, would enjoy it, too. I hope we win the league for John in May, so he can reflect later from his couch and actually see how it happened. John’s inevitable book should be called Hugs on the Concourse — How we drank our way to the Holy Grail.
We match-goers used to be the privileged few. Before widespread, worldwide live coverage of every game, only those in the ground saw the match and won exclusive rights to an opinion. Surely those days gave birth to the idea that “if you don’t go, don’t blow”. Now, I’ve got fucking Fitzgerald pontificating about a Joel Matip header he saw seven times in glorious HD before I could finish a South London piss.
Fitzgerald and TV millions around the world, some in pyjamas in Sydney; some out in town before a big Halloween night out with mates or girlfriends, luxuriated in Roberto’s Firmino’s 71st-minute clincher. They would have gone to the fridge or the bar and enjoyed a peaceful last 20 while I was tripping over broken bricks trying to leg it across London for the last Liverpool train home.
The Reds are being roared on from all over.
While I was away on holiday recently in Spain, I had my pick of all the bars; and all the games. For the sake of family harmony, I restricted myself to the two Liverpool matches wile there; Manchester City v Southampton and Rangers v Celtic over the course of four days.
It could have been more, but I’d have ended up divorced. That said, it was nice to watch us beat West Brom with my daughter (who I can’t take to Anfield) and see Sturridge leg Spurs all over the show while I ate a plate of fish.
Back in Blighty my Premier League viewing options become more limited.
Try buggering off for the whole day to the oxymoron that is Crystal Palace (there’s nothing symmetrical or palatial about Selhurst Park) and turn up home at around midnight a bit pissed. Then see how it goes when your plans the next day (in theory) revolve around watching Everton v West Ham and Southampton v Chelsea. If you can’t see an issue here, you’re better off single, lads and lasses.
Martin’s fucking off the football has, ironically, led to him watching more football. Ask him if we’re going to win the league. He’s probably got a better idea than me.
He’s got so much new time on his hands for himself (and Helen?) that he’s even watched a bit of Sky’s football journo talk-show Sunday Supplement. For me though this is a step too far. Sponsored by Brexit, Sunday Supplement is nothing more than a curious juxtaposition of the tabloids’ fat, bearded types and the broadsheets’ anorexic, pseudo-suave academic types, who exhale moral opprobrium while managing to talk about themselves.
I’ve always wanted our own Tony Barrett to appear on this show and kick the living shite out of them; a bit like Arthur Scargill turning up at a Young Conservatives convention and lasering them all with a miners’ lamp.
We’re spoilt for TV choice and at times it can seem a bit overwhelming. You have to make serious compromises, and if you’re still watching the Eredivisie and Bundesliga coverage on BT Sports, you either work for Jürgen Klopp or there’s something wrong with you. At times the overkill is ridiculous; it’s getting so bad there will be programmes about Liverpool managers playing bowls next…
It’s a far cry from days of highlights of a couple of games a week back from the era where the BBC Flagship, Match Of The Day originally gleaned its name. Thankfully, there’s blanket coverage of this Premier League title race and Reds all round the world are avidly following it on the box.
Martins everywhere are streaming illegally via grainy laptop feeds or watching Richard Keys sprout hair from under his collar in 3D during the Bein Sports broadcast of their latest Liverpool instalment.
And at home, here on Merseyside, there’s generation of children and teenagers who love the Reds more than you and I; their sad little faces peering through the TV window. For them, their heroes Phil Coutinho and Firmino will always be some lads off the telly.
Let’s win it for the lost generation.
Everyone tune in Sunday for the next episode of The Kloppos and text me the score while I’m in the bog.