HOW many emotions can you go through while watching the game?
If I can chart my own during the Swansea game they would chronologically run as follows; excitement (the Reds were playing) followed by a slight concern, a sense of unluckiness, boredom, more boredom, a stupefying boredom, a sense that my brain would atrophy, confusion, fury, absolute spittle-flying anger, relief, joy, a deep all-consuming love of Roberto Firmino, confusion once more, panic, despair, and, finally, acceptance. Not a good afternoon.
We all treat defeats in different ways. Some like to speed drink and seek out other Reds to pore over the corpse while others sit in silence and try to remind themselves that it’s just one game in 50 or so, and it’s ridiculous to let it ruin their weekend. I’m in the latter camp and can tell you that trying to put a rational slant on something as stupid as that game is impossible. If there’s any solace to be dredged from those miserable hours it’s that other Reds — both your mates and those around the world — are hurting too or, at the very least, pissed off.
That’s where I was for a few hours on Saturday. Eventually I put it behind me and tried to get on with the weekend. Then I read fan comments on various social media and another emotion took over.
Disappointment. Head slumping disappointment.
We all do and say silly things when our blood is up – or down for that matter. I’ve done it enough for myself and have been banned from a few internet fora in my time as a consequence. Liverpool lose and all you want to do is tear the world apart because of the sheer injustice of it all. We’ve lost three league games this season and the first two still live in my bones, eating away at my marrow, to this day. That’s unavoidable. We all want perfection after all.
No, this is something different and, I’m afraid, it’s a song I’ve sang many times before.
It was the tweets and posts saying ‘we were never going to win the league anyway’ and that ‘a shot at top four was always the target’.
I’ve just shouted at my laptop as I typed that last sentence.
To those who hold that view I’d like to ask the following questions and, before you start, I’m not calling you a bad person or any less of a fan or any of that bollocks if you just so happen to disagree with me. We’re all grown-ups here.
What do you want from this team? What do you want them to do?
I didn’t know till yesterday that many are happy with fourth place, given that last season’s league ended with Liverpool in eighth. Progress and all that.
I know what I want. In fact, I’m lucky because my ambitions are limited to one thing only. I want the league title.
I love the cup competitions and there’s something glorious about watching Liverpool in Europe, but they’re an addenda to the main item on the agenda. I want what Shankly called our bread and butter.
I have no wish to be the fourth best team in the league. That’s like getting to a semi-final and giving your place away as that’s about as far as you’d expect to go. What’s the point in that?
Oh, I know the arguments. Fourth is the journey, not the destination. We get fourth place and attract better players due to Champions League football and then, and only then, we take the league by storm. Right?
What? Better players like Philippe Coutinho? Joel Matip? Erm…
But there are other reasons for this wish. I’m impatient.
Actually, scratch that. I’m the opposite. I’m patient.
I’ve been patient far too long and, as we only seem to summon up a title challenging side every six-seven years, I don’t want to see one pass with such low ambitions. This side is good enough to win THIS league. Maybe not next year’s – definitely last year’s – but this one. Yes, Chelsea are good, but they will meet Swanseas of their own at some point. The Manchester clubs can’t work out if they’re any good or not and the other two panic when they fly too close to the sun. So why not? Why not now?
Jürgen feels the same way too. Oh, I know he’s deliberately not using the word but look at him standing on the turf after the game on Saturday. He’s staring into nothing, trying to work out what’s just happened. That was not the look of a man who thinks he can lose the odd game as top four sides can afford the odd freak game or bad performance or both. His whole demeanour spoke of ‘fuck it.’ A quiet fury at an opportunity missed.
There’s something else too. I hesitate to say what it is so I’ll add a caveat first.
The greatest expression of support you can show your club is to be in the ground with them when they play. The Premiership isn’t cheap and the hours spent getting there and back as well as enduring ridiculous kick-off times (Manchester City) deserves praise. Obviously, not everyone can get to a game and it doesn’t make anyone a lesser fan if they can’t get in — I want to be clear on that – but it’s my own personal rule that I don’t criticise the crowd if I myself am not part of it. They made the effort to be at the game and I didn’t.
But come on.
Leaving in injury time when the game is at 2-3? Being so quiet in the first half that we could hear Jordan Henderson bollocking the linesmen? The Twelfth Man? Really? An absolute myth.
When the manager slated the crowd last season I was in two minds about it. My first thought was that he doesn’t spend from an already rapidly decreasing wage packet to travel around the country to see the lads play so he can sod off, but on the other hand any visitor to the ground lately will see that he has a point. There can’t be many quieter grounds in the country, never mind the division, and it’s time we stopped kidding ourselves.
But couple this with ‘I knew we wouldn’t win the league’ and it makes me wonder just how much we really want the Holy Grail. That’s where the disappointment came over me in 10-foot waves.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not blaming the Swansea loss on the fans – I’ve got Klopp and every player bar Firmino for that in my own furious and screaming psyche – but I wonder if we have the fight for this. For all the #lfcfamily and self-congratulation that goes with being a Liverpool fan these days, it means nothing if you’re not prepared to buy in when we have a genuine title challenging side on our hands. It’s one thing whistling and looking away embarrassed when Roy Hodgson thought his side was good enough, but not this one.
We might not have another side like this for years. Don’t give up on them. Don’t let them play to silence. Don’t leave them to it when they need you most. Be angry, sure. Be throaty in your invective when the moment arises (‘Shoot, Phil! Don’t fucking square it when you’re through.’ ‘For fuck’s sake, will one of you pricks take that prick down? Don’t let him run through you or he’ll…FOR FUCK’S SAKE!’) but don’t leave them to it. Don’t let them, not to be trite about it, walk alone.
I’m not giving up and I don’t want to support a team that would do the same.
How can we celebrate glory when the limit of our ambition is not to win the thing? Isn’t it right that we have high demands? Don’t we want to shoot for the moon rather than just be happy to be involved in the mission? What do we want?
I know what I want. I want the sentence ‘I never really thought we could win it’ to be expunged from the Liverpool language. I also don’t want 27 years to become 28 and even if it means us having to win every single game for us to take the title, that’s what I expect Liverpool to be aiming for. That’s all.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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I want the league.
It’s nice to win the domestic cups but I’m not overly fussed.
The first 3rd of the season we gave ourselves a fantastic platform to launch a title challenge but it wasn’t in itself a title challenge.
As the saying goes you can’t win the league at the start but you can lose it, we certainly hadn’t lost it.
The 2nd third of the season was about solidifying ourselves near the top of the table in order to finally launch that big push for the title in the final 3rd. Unfortunately it’s in this period we faltered. We lost to Bournemouth and Swansea and dropped points v Sunderland and West Ham. This has left us 10 points off the top. Too much to overcome in my opinion.
A lack of strength in depth particularly in positions we knew we’d be losing a player in was costly. The mess surrounding Matip has potentially cost us 5 points. Persistently playing some of our most influential players out of position has hurt us. Not making subs, or making the wrong subs has also hurt us.
Any potential league challenge is over.
We now need to focus on finishing 2nd and win both cups
We have owners, like Arsenal, who are more than happy with 4th place and the value that Champions League football adds to the club and sponsorship deals. Watch Arsenal’s money-men give Wenger another contract despite him failing for 13 years to even seriously challenge for the title. Top 4 money is all they desire.
Klopp is carrying us on his shoulders but he can only do so much. He’s not perfect and has his flaws, but he’s camouflaging the lack of investment in the squad by FSG. A few injuries and look at our replacements. When we got him we were very happy and wanted FSG to back him. He currently has a below zero net spend since he arrived.
Is Liverpool’s priority to win a league title, or only to win a league title by spending peanuts? Because FSG will only provide peanuts for a league title. Yet our turnover gets bigger and bigger…
FSG definitely want to win the league but you’re right in that they won’t spend unlimited amounts to do it. That’s why Klopp is a perfect fit because he basically doesn’t like making massive transfers and prefers to try to help improve players.
It can work too. Throwing a load of money at something doesn’t magically make it better.
“FSG want to win the league” ha ha.
Yes, Everton do too one presumes. But actions speak louder than hollow words.
Don’t know why people have turned the comments section into a FSG bashing when its pretty clear that we haven’t missed on anyone this window who JK actually wanted. But anyway, this is about fans and the crowd. Something needs to change, but unfortunately I don’t know what. Its not about locals vrs OOT (a lot of locals are v quiet and have a sense of entitlement) – but what can WE do to help the team? 9 games left now at home. 27 points.
Spot on regarding The needless FSG bashing. Klopp has stated clearly on various occasion that money is not the issue, but to get the right player (available) who could improve the current team.
For example, if there is a wide and pacy player who could be a long term back up for Mane (or compete with) or who would further improve the current front three players, and who is better than Ojo/sturridge /Origi, I am sure Klopp would sign.
We cant win the league AND turn in a profit in transfer windows. We are 5-6 players in the XI away from being genuine contenders. 6 years and we are as far away as ever, because the owners put profit first and it is simply more profitable to play for fourth. Saturday was shite. The league cup will basically be a cup for the team who can beat Utd. That’s shite too.
Far too many smiling faces coming out of that ground on Saturday, it’s not ruining people’s weekend when they’re just there for the day out and that passive element of the crowd is what leads to the dead atmosphere.
That won’t change though unfortunately as that sort of fan spends more on half time hot dogs and souvenirs and that is what the club want.
Superb. Especially on the lack of crowd noise, and the underlying malaise: “We might not have another side like this for years. Don’t give up on them. Don’t let them play to silence. Don’t leave them to it when they need you most. Be angry, sure. Be throaty in your invective when the moment arises (‘Shoot, Phil! Don’t fucking square it when you’re through.’ ‘For fuck’s sake, will one of you pricks take that prick down? Don’t let him run through you or he’ll…FOR FUCK’S SAKE!’) but don’t leave them to it. Don’t let them, not to be trite about it, walk alone.”
That, times 100.
Yes yes and more yes. I wish I was there, I screamed and hollered at the TV, my kids (7 and 9) screamed and hollered at the TV and shouted at me too ‘Why are they so quiet Daddy?’. That first half was like a Crown Green Bowls match it was embarrassing, when I go watch a game I leave with no voice ALWAYS. Why? Because it’s my team and I’ll support them and drag them through matches, that’s what we’re there for. If you can’t do that piss of back home and watch it in a pub or at home and let someone else take your ticket.
Honestly it’s a joke and needs highlighting and finger pointing more. It’s all very well blaming ‘out of towners’ but you can almost guarantee it’s just the malaise of the modern fan rather than where they come from that’s the issue.
This ‘want it now’ generation seems to of imacted on the ‘older’ generations who are falling into the same expectations and now thanks to Social Media gives them a whole new platform to bitch and moan on. It cripples atmospheres at most clubs up and down the country ours included.
Embarassing, lets not have another 90 minutes like that it was a joke and whilst not wholly responsible for the loss was partly responsible for it.
I desperately want the league again. As Shanks said “the bread & butter”.
I was there in 1990 when we last won it & couldn’t imagine another 26 years without. I’m 52 now & starting to worry whether I’ll ever see another one.
Anxiety. Me & lots of auld arses are suffering with it. First half on Saturday was part of this. Plenty of possession & neat play against the worst team in the league but no bite or cutting edge. Our defence, especially without Matip always has a mistake coming or just does not defend properly & lo & behold this came to pass.
Up the anxious Reds!!
Yes exactly my feelings. Fuck me we’ve waited long enough. When I think of Leicester last season and us in 2014 , I get a nose bleed. Klopp is me , I’m Klopp , I’m also Liverpool to my core , I’ve ate , slept, drank Liverpool for nearly 35 years. By fuck the last 27 have been torture. My biggest problem is I know only to well what’s needed , but we fail time after time to put it all together, once and for fucking all
I try to not let it ruin my weekend but it does. The rage I felt when Sigurdsson scored was beyond belief.
I really do feel these lads are good enough to win this league, this season. Of course they are. That doesn’t mean they will but they are certainly good enough.
Winning a league title is about so much more than talent. It’s a million different things. Chelsea are top having had no injuries, having not been victims of bullshit circumstance and seemingly being able to play at Stamford Bridge for 19 games in a row (half joking).
We just need to role with the punches a little better. It has been looking like a glorious season, so of course Matip would get injured and then become embroiled in an club vs country debate that was utterly unprecedented and OF COURSE Utd away would fall within that period.
OF COURSE Phil Coutinho would suffer ankle ligament damage from someone kicking a ball at him.
OF COURSE Mane would go away to AFCON, and we all know Senegal will go all the way in the tournament.
All this bullshit, and whatever else is going to come, is to be expected with us. It’s Liverpool FC. Nothing is ever easy. We got nothing for free. You won’t see us being dug out in the 84th minute with offside goals, or getting away with two footed tackles in front of the ref. We’ve just got to role with it and physically extract glory from this season. Nobody is going to give it to us.
Loved the article.
As much as at the start of the season, if anyone would have offered me top 4 and the EFL cup i’d have taken it, it would be such a shame to waste such a positive start to the season. 1st at one point, 2nd for WEEKS. It would be dissapointing to finish anywhere lower than second, and that means we can win the fucking thing.
One thing is for sure.
The crowd better be up for the Chelsea game.
We’ve seen this team(Chelsea)wilt in front of the Kop on many occasions.
The Kop has lost its voice. And theres no out of towners in there. Thats where the noise needs to start, remind the youngsters coming through how to support your team. I honestly dont know if enough has been handed down to the next generation. Teach them the songs. Ask them for new ones. Maybe the SOS can organise something. Just a thought