“BE kind. In the first place try to be nothing but kind.” My mental note where I start all of these things.
Seasons are fractured. Shall we do our best, one last time? Let’s go, Reds…
As a city Liverpool only makes complete sense in an international context. Most — too much? — of England obsesses about only England. England is curiously insular as an island and grows more so. But Liverpool — too much? — insists on looking west, looking outwards, often defining itself against Englishness, perhaps abdicating the space at times.
The same can be said of its football team. Liverpool make sense with European football. Liverpool make sense at that top table. Liverpool, along with Barcelona, Real Madrid (who the fuck you tryna kid?), AC Milan, Bayern Munich and — yes — Manchester United are European football’s most remarkable, romantic, glorious clubs. The greatest of clubs. The business. For reasons better or worse there is all of us and there is the rest.
Yet this is only the second time in a decade the top table is available for the Reds. That’s the scope of the comparative achievement which was confirmed today by Liverpool; that’s what was worked towards since last July by Jürgen Klopp’s grafters.
For too long we haven’t been good enough. We haven’t hit the minimum requirement. Today, this season, we have. 76 points is two points a game. That should be the aim and if it was this campaign then it has been been boxed off. It’s the least you can expect. It’s very hard to do.
It’s a strange season, one where you get the sense the minimum requirement was finishing top four. The maximum was exactly the same.
For all the talk around Liverpool disappointing in the second half of the season, it is worth pointing out that had they doubled their halfway total they would be behind Chelsea today. The test, the aim for the greatest prize should be this — 60 points plus on 28. 65 on 30. Forget halfway. January is where so much falls to bits, the League Cup a pain if you don’t win it, a pain Liverpool have suffered two years on the bounce, a pain they have struggled with without a Champions League squad. A pain Manchester United are struggling with while arguably having a Champions League squad. It just isn’t easy.
Today, Liverpool weren’t great, far from it. But they were better than Middlesbrough, three goals better. The goals are everything; grabbing moments, being irresistible in comparison to the opposition. Gini Wijnaldum opens the scoring despite toiling for 45 minutes. The game is about blamming it in occasionally. He managed that with aplomb.
Phil Coutinho too good. Adam Lallana too lucky. Liverpool dominant and in excelsis deo. The space between ridiculously nervy and utterly relaxed could have a cigarette paper slid between it. There was 15 minutes of football. Then there was only Liverpool.
The things are these:
– These lads have worked their balls off for this. They deserve our love and our kindness.
– Daniel Sturridge one way or the other needs sorting soon.
– This is a bridgehead. No more no less.
– But cut loose, Reds. This evening should be yours, ours. Get naked and have a disco.
– There is now a pressure on Liverpool to give it the big one in the transfer market.
– Lucas Leiva.
– This and all of this. Again and again. Win and keep winning. There is only being Liverpudlian and overjoyed. Everything else is ash.
– Bring on your Internazionale.
It’s been a long campaign. Full of highs and highs and then lows and lows and then highs and then the whole thing done. The job has been finished. The job is just starting. The tyranny of the whole thing.
The most important of the least important things and the tyranny of the whole thing. The shattering. But the football and the love and the smiles. Give me the smiles and the cuddles and the affection and the kindness. Give me the kindness. Give them the kindness, the love. They did the decent thing.
Give them the pressure, too. Give them the lot. They have it all to come. It never stops, it only gets harder. Ask Bill Shankly, ask Bob Paisley. Ask Joe Fagan, Kenny Dalglish and Rafa Benitez. We always demand more. That is our Liverpool Way. Soz abar us.
This has been a long campaign. Thank you for reading these words and thank you for broadly being kind, thank you for broadly being warm. Swansea at home hurt as much as any ever has and any ever will. Arsenal at home was remarkable. The thing and the whole of the thing, the gamut. But you’ve mostly read and understood, these are one man’s words, one fractured and often exhausted man who needs one thing above all others who needs it soon. Next season, always next season. In the meantime you and they have my love. My kindness. Share yours, especially on June 8. I’d hug you all if I could.
That’s it. All done.
Up the who the fuck you tryna kid Reds. May they always be the team you can adore.
They and you will do for me. For now.