IT’S the game everyone’s been talking about this week. A “did you see it last night?” moment in work. Barcelona’s unlikely comeback in Europe had grown men leaping around TV studios like overwhelmed children unwrapping the present of their dreams on Christmas Day — even our very own Steven Gerrard was jumping about like he’d put the ball in the back of the net himself.
And then it happened. The tweets started, the blogs were written, the listicles appeared — Barcelona 6 PSG 1: the greatest comeback EVER.
And so then we did our thing. We came out swinging. They had 90 minutes. They haven’t won anything. Look at the players they’ve got…
The umbrage was Istanbul-related. Because how can that be topped as a comeback? To our minds it’s the greatest. Rightly so.
But waking up the day after the night before, as Barca comeback-related bellendery continued to swarm over The Anfield Wrap’s social media, there was a second-strand elicited from this outside situation.
Istanbul was fucking 12 years ago.
As boss as it was (the best), as long as it will live in the memory (as long as life itself probably) we need a new one don’t we? Not a three-goal comeback in a Champions League final necessarily, although that would be nice, but just a reaffirmation — somehow, somewhere — that we are who we say we are. By far the greatest team the world has ever seen. The famous Kopites. All that.
Liverpool need to be in the Champions League. Regularly. Not peeking in from the outside as everyone else enjoys themselves. Not digging out pictures of players now retired to prove we still matter.
It should hurt all this. Hurt everyone that has an association with Liverpool FC. Other clubs enjoying the good times. Manchester United claiming to have won more trophies (and us left counting up European Super Cups to prove a point). But what do you do with that hurt? Lash out? Continually — on a daily basis for some Reds — gripe and moan, abuse and wallow in negativity? Always look on the dark side?
Last Saturday Liverpool defeated Arsenal at Anfield. The Reds played well. The crowd was behind them. We witnessed a group of players with confidence coursing through their veins — the party tricks were out, there was a defiance, the ball was moved faster, players — some who definitely don’t fall into the ‘crowd favourite’ category — showed spirit.
It was a performance you could get behind. A show that said the season wasn’t over. Yet a short walk to the pub found a string of simultaneous conversations bigging up Burnley like Brazil 1970 reborn and bemoaning a bad performance and an ‘inevitable’ defeat to follow in Liverpool’s next game. A crystal ball that shows only shit.
Everyone is different, I get that. But we seem to have an awful lot of these ‘supporters’. Burnley haven’t won away all season. They’ve won nine games in total. Goals haven’t been easy to come by. Why assume the worst when in fact there are plenty of indicators to suggest the opposite? Liverpool are top scorers in the league. For the defeats to Burnley, Bournemouth, Swansea, Hull, Leicester there are loads of wins against “smaller” sides — the aforementioned Leicester (4-1), Hull (5-1), West Brom (2-1), Palace (4-2), Watford (6-1), Sunderland (2-0), Boro (3-0), Everton (1-0)….
Part of the Liverpool look and feel, the direction, the hope, the ambition in the here and now, is us. The fans. I’m not going to be swayed on this. Call me what you like — romantic, deluded, whatever. The supporters in the ground make a difference. They can sway the mood. Make the players run through walls or make them disappear in a shell.
Further, the same applies online. What is said and written, tweeted and Instagrammed — particularly when offered up directly to Liverpool players’ very own accounts, will have some influence. Yes, they’re professionals. They’re well paid. They’re also human. They’re drawn in just like you are. They read it, they see it. And sometimes they bite. Sometimes they delete their accounts. Both of these things have happened regarding Liverpool players on the books right now. All the evidence you need.
I get why it happens. I get the anger, it’s born of frustration. But if it’s counterproductive — if it’s actually harming the chances of Liverpool achieving what we want them to achieve — then why? What’s the point?
Angst about the owners, I can understand. Questions about their ambition, their approach. I get it. But right now we can’t sign players. Right now the team is the team. And there are 33 points this team can potentially win. In the summer, all eyes on FSG. They need to buy. Buy big. Buy well.
Now? Well perhaps, just maybe, a positive and patient atmosphere at Anfield come Sunday helps Liverpool win three points versus Burnley. Perhaps we can will it happen. Make it happen. Back the players instead of getting stuck into them. Perhaps that leads to a run. Perhaps it gets us enough points to get back into the Champions League — and God knows is it about time we got in it and performed in it. The last two campaigns in it were awful. The last in 2014 when The Reds rolled over and had their bellies tickled by Real Madrid. That wasn’t the Liverpool we know. We need to get in it, stay in it, and keep finishing there or thereabouts. In everything. I mean, we’re great at beating the big clubs, right? It would be good to see that theory tested on foreign shores against Europe’s elite.
It should all go without saying really. Because as we all know, there are plenty out there, outside our bubble, who love nothing more than to see Liverpool fail. Leave them to it. Let them carve out the narratives and put only negativity about Liverpool on display. Us though. We support Liverpool. We want Liverpool to win. Let’s make that clear — to manager, to players. Let’s try to make it happen.
Because when Liverpool win we all win.