“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.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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Brilliant! Can’t wait for next season already. Just need Ajax to do the business on Wednesday and Corbyn to sneak up on the rails and bury the Tories on June 8th and it will be a great summer. Thanks for the great writing and podcasts lads – enjoy.
Good read and god damn this was one fucking ride of a season. I love our lads and our fans, even when they can be some really miserable folks on social media. Up the Reds and time to take the world.
This: “The space between ridiculously nervy and utterly relaxed could have a cigarette paper slid between it. ” So true. It’s remarkable that when you look at what has been achieved, the margins either way, up or down, were so tight. Think of the points dropped, ridiculously, to Bournemouth, to Swansea, to Palace, to Burnley, all that nonsense. And then consider Boro could have had a penalty, that last week Lovren and co were faffing around as Ayew missed two sitters from two yards, that it took a worldy from Emre to secure the three points at Watford which, just as much as today’s result, secured it.
I like the idea of the “the big one” in the transfer market. I’m frankly tired of the ‘in the know’ transfer porn that stuffs the summer months but maybe we should blam the cash on some high end goods. We’re not that far away, you know. Good squad there. And yeah, let’s keep Dan as well while we’re at it. Any spare tracksuits for Xabi? He’d make a stylish addition to the bench.
That’ll do is right. Til next season. Thanks lads.
Jesus Neil, crackin read again. How the fuck you can do it now after that and the skinful of swallie you have blerted today….fuck knows, but thanks again lad. Terrific journey this season and terrific stuff pouring out of you and your oppos all year long…. Thanks lads…. From an itinerant arl arse stuck in the midlands.
Mingo the Man of the season.
Thanks for writing these.
They have been fucking brilliant this season.
Well done the Reds! I don’t want to write much, just to make the point that I have Really Enjoyed this season and that, I truly believe that for the first time in a while, we, as a club, and fan base, are in a healthy position. To all my fellow Reds, All the best. :)
Well done, you provide a great service for those of us who can’t be there.
Share you kindess on the 8th June? If you want to do your post game on that one you can write in now. A win for the Blues against the Reds. It won’t always be thus, but it will be this time.
Great write up, couldn’t agree more. Always enjoy these post-reds. Keep up the great work.
Love you Atko. Have a boss night. Up the twitchy arse before kick off but all right in the end Reds xxx
What a journey. It is in our DNA, to win and to play the football we all love. Sometimes it happened sometimes it didn’t. But what a journey. Great reading TAW on the way and looking forward to next season already. They will do for me too, for now. YNWA.
I went on twitter for the first time in 13 months before realising I could post my appreciation here. Thank you for the positivity, you’re alright you lot
I think we love you back.
Many thanks Neil for everyone’s superbly entertaining columns and podcasts this season. You’ve lifted the spirits after the Reds’ bad days and enhanced the good ones enormously. Best fiver a month I could possibly spend and when Corbyn wins I’ve no doubt whatsoever he’ll make TAW universally available on prescription.
Hope you enjoy the peace of the summer Neil. Love to you from N.Z. I am one of the many who use you as a conduit to the home and heart of L.F.C. Thanks for all the great write ups and hard work this season.
Nice one Neil. The sun is shining and my optimistic half full glass needs refilling. 76 points. Up these scarlet reds. Cheers for all your seasons words. When the game is done it’s something I look forward to, win lose or draw.
Was outside the Abbey on Hanover street. Let on to you. Realised I didn’t actually know you. Embarrassment. Not arsed. Up the reds. The champions league playing reds.
“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.”
Took that cigarette paper and rolled up a cigarette, lit it and smoked it heartily while reading the rest of your excelently written feature in total calm, total ease, total leisure.
Because we are there. We have to qualify for the CL group proper but even if we get the best, we know we are European pedigree and fear no one. We make others glance over their shoulders to gaze at the Kop, shivering at the imminent prospects of defeat.
We are Liverpool. Not the biggest money wise. Not the biggest social media wise. But the 8th biggest club in the world. A world that wants to Double our size when we cross the line of our self proclaimed Holy Grail- the 19th and forebearer of the rest to follow.
Working with the squad and circumstances he has had, Jurgen Klopp did what Conte, Pochettino, Gaurdiola, Wegner nor Moan-inho could never achieve: knock Arsenal and Manchester United and their Champion League squads out of the Top 4.
And he did it without compromising to buy a lesser player in his view to fill a hole for a short term purpose. Jurgen gambled with transfer decision. He gambled with our club. He gambled with our hearts. And he won for us all.
We achieved 4th on a net positive transfer kitty in 3 windows. Think about that because it matters if you feel you need the best players in order to achieve anything.
Not a negative £100m, £200m, but a balance that leaves him a kitty to say ‘the Owners give us the opportunity to keep the players we want” when discussing the possibility of selling Coutinho rather than needing to have to sell Coutinho. He never had that before in Mainz or Dortmund. And that’s for another days discussion. Today’s for today and that is simply:
We have achieved milestone objectives:
We’re in CL qualification.
We’re ahead of Arsenal and Man U in the league
We have a wonderful squad with some world class players
We can attract more to come.
And most importantly, without compromise, without selling our souls, without a blank chequebook, without forgetting our roots, we did this because………We Are Liveroool, La La La La La, We are Liverpool, La, La, La, La, La, La….anon
Thanks for the write ups lads and keeping our faiths together….La la la la la la….
Great stuff as always. These and the ratings add so much to the match day experience especially when all I can manage these days is a game at Anfield a season if I’m lucky..sadly this year it was the sh*te performance against Southampton a couple of weeks back.
I always maintained to my mates who were calling for everyone and anyone’s head when points were dropped at Christmas and during the Jan/Feb slump that the time to judge this outfit and manager was the end of the season and I firmly believe that securing a CL spot with such a thin squad and having terrible luck injury wise must be viewed as a fantastic managerial achievement.
Can’t wait to see who signs for Liverpool now but I trust this crazy genius to get it right so not too bothered if I don’t know them too well at first..
Thanks Neil lad for a wonderful campaign very much appreciated work keep it up
Gerrard = Paisley
Remember you saw it here first.
I really hope RTR that you can say I told you so in years to come.
Analysis can be done in the days to come. Just win we asked them. They did. The rollercoaster is over for another few months.
Up the job done Reds.
Thanks Neil and to everyone at TAW for another great year. Now for some gutter through the summer!
Love to all my fellow Reds.
Nice one Neil, you’ve kept me going this season especially through the turn of the year when we couldn’t hit a barn door. Klopp deserves lot of credit this year, I know we shouldn’t celebrate 4th spot but with Arsenal and especially Utd having considerably more funds then I think it’s a great achievement! Can’t wait for next season, up the majestic reds!! Ps please stay Studge!
Get naked and have a disco. Defo mate innit.
Naked and a disco? I did the 3.5 hour drive home and had a teacake. I’m old. But I’m happy. It hasn’t been a Reds result until I’ve read your report. Thanks for your entertaining work Neil.
It’s nuts how long this season’s been… Mane’s goal at Arsenal feels as far away in the past as Coutinho’s winner at Stoke twelve months earlier. But we’ve just about got the reward we deserved. Current emotion is mainly relief, though there’s also appreciation of what’s been accomplished, and excitement about what’s to come.
Thanks for writing these match reviews Neil – they always help in one way or another. Takes guts to be gentle and kind, if you don’t mind me quoting a moaning manc on here.
Now is the time to capitalise on this, get the quality in that the manager needs and trust Klopp to do what he does best – manage, motivate and deliver. And let’s get behind the club as a whole
On the subject of Jeremy Corbyn – vote, vote, vote Labour.
Up the Reds, into Europe not out of it, and Jeremy for PM!!
Great to get success in our season’s aim (realistic aim) of UCL qualification…the ‘eternal’ aim is the League title of course! Next year lads.
But, Neil….one point. Nothing to do with football. How many other countries have you lived in, or even travelled to and actually immersed yourself in? England is one of the most open and outward looking countries there is – and getting more so – I’m not sure about your social circle if you think different. I’m not from the city of Liverpool but love it and its people by and large. BUT. Liverpool is one of the most interesting places culturally but it and its inhabitants are pretty self-obsessed (i’m not gonna be rude and insulting by saying insular). That by-and-large is part of its charm as we all know how scousers back their own and all that. Be proud of your city and denigrate your country if that suits your prejudices/agenda, do that all you want, but the example you use to do that seems like the most improbable and implausible example you could find!
Tooo tired to write … thanks mate for a cracking year … from one of the countless who never set foot in Liverpool … wonderful stuff .. you and the gang make us all a part of it ..
Thanks, Neil. Brilliant today and brilliant all season.
You would have thought your expensive education would have given you a better understanding of the word tyranny. Maybe next season will give you more breath to correctly edit your nonsense.
If I wasn’t drunk whilst reading this, I’d say you were drunk Neil Atkinson. God bless you.
Great piece as ever Neil. If Jurgen only reads one post-match report it should be yours. Just before he goes down the beach with his dogs.
Neil thanks to you and the team for just a tremendous range and quality of output that is such an addition to those too far away to be there.
Thanks Neil, today feels good.
Love it. Great season watching the Reds and following it all on TAW. Here’s to next season and winning the fucking lot!
“Get naked and have a disco.” Hahahaha…Good one Neil. Great read and big relief to get over the line in the fashion we did.
I’m a bit late to the party, though I think we’re still partying, until the transfer madness starts and hopefully continues on.
Had enough of Jurgen’s rollercoaster this season. Need to take the summer off to recoup for next season’s ride. The pressure is on Jurgen now, he will have his team going forward. Just hope FSG pony up to support him.
Great job TAW on all of the articles even the nonsensical ones at times. Keep at em.
Hope everyone of you has a great summer. Till next season then.
Up the Champions League Bound Reds!!!