“WE’RE the best behaved supporters in the land (when we win),” goes the chant. “We’re a right shower of bastards when we lose,” it adds. Perhaps it’s time for amendment to that last line in 2017. Because that’s been an accurate description of much of the support’s behaviour since the draw at home to Southampton.
The usual caveat of Liverpool’s support being so wide and large applies. No one can ever gauge the collective opinion of so many with any degree of accuracy.
But the internet means you can get a general idea. The groans in the ground are another indicator. Then there’s your immediate circle — friends, family, people you work with.
A far too widely accepted pre-match opinion seemed to be that Liverpool would fuck it up at West Ham. Spurs recent defeat to their London rivals was a sure sign of that apparently. And when the pressure is on, Liverpool crack, right?
Doubts are understandable, but a mindset of misery? Where’s the perspective?
A similar line of thinking was present among some members of the media in Jürgen Klopp’s press conference last week. If the games against West Ham and Middlesbrough were cup finals of sorts, well Liverpool aren’t great at them was the gist. And, it went on: neither for that matter is the manager.
No matter that the League Cup final with Manchester City went to a penalty shoot-out. Or that Liverpool had played so well in a half in Basel versus Seville.
And what about all the other big games Liverpool had performed well in since Klopp’s arrival? Manchester United, Dortmund, Villarreal? Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal? The Derby?
A tricky away as well, well we’d won a few of them lately. And 70 points compared to many of the recent years — well it’s hardly the season from hell, is it?
Yet doom and gloom seemed to be the mood of choice pre kick off. Everyone set for the inevitability of disappointment.
It’s something the manager has picked up on regularly. Post Watford he mentioned it, saying it was just like Liverpool fans to pick up on a negative despite three points being in the bag (secured by the goal of the season).
He’s right isn’t he?
Despite all the appeals from Klopp – almost every press conference, almost every column in the programme – Anfield’s atmosphere remains missing in action all too often. Blame what you like for that, but chief among the guilty parties are the army of misery arses that identify as Reds.
As a group, have we become conditioned to nearly but not quite after 27 years of trying for you know what? Is the propensity to believe there is a kick in the teeth round the corner just human nature after what we have endured?
A double affirmative would be my guess. It frustrates the manager, that’s clear. And you can bet the players pick up on it too. Bombarding their social media accounts with negativity will drip into their psyche no matter how strong their characters are and how big their bank balances may be. They’re only human after all.
So why so many doubts at so many turns? Even in the good times?
As Klopp has pointed out, he isn’t that manager. And they aren’t those players. So many of the situations that play on repeat when it comes to worrying about Liverpool and their past performances are nothing to do with the current crop. They were not at the scene of the crime in so many of the disappointments.
This season’s body of evidence? Well, OK. There are clear mistakes. Obvious poor performances. But should they be lugged around on our backs and thrown down the moment there is the slightest hint of a repeat? Again, that’s how it feels all to often for so many that pay their way to watch this club.
What Liverpool have done today though is stuck up a glorious two fingers to the doubters. To the supporters who said they had “no chance” today – to the naysayers who talked about “knowing what comes next”. There’s the Reds, fronting them, chest out arms back, a knowing nod. We’re alright, us.
This is a good Liverpool side. It’s disappointing that we’re not that bit higher in the league, that we haven’t got those few more points that would make all the difference. But sights had to be recalibrated. That they were, and that the players have manufactured a situation where one more win guarantees a shot at the Champions League is a positive, as are the points on the board and as is the different ways Liverpool have won those points.
In over a quarter of century of watching the Reds I’ve been part of a final day of the season crowd that had nothing to excite it more times than I care to remember — we’ve watched glorified friendlies as minds have drifted to what could be the following season over and over. This season? It might not be a trophy we’re playing for a week today, but it’s close — it’s vital for the club. In terms of recruitment, reputation, motivation, standing, honour, and simply a fresh challenge to inspire — Liverpool needs Champions League football. Regularly.
Klopp’s mantra has always been that we need to shift from being doubters to believers. The real Liverpool stood up today. Forget West Ham, what they did and didn’t do and what their motivation might or might not have been. Instead, celebrate the Reds and believe in what they did. Attitudes were set right. The desire was obvious. Hunger was there. There was a snap and a fluidity to Liverpool that at times had been missing. Ultimately, the superior quality shone through. Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge were at their best.
With all that in mind, and only one hurdle to jump, how about now as a test of seeing if we can finally answer the manager’s call for creating the right type of Anfield?
Doubt was everywhere pre West Ham, surely now with only relegated Middlesbrough to come, we can as a collective believe?
The ground needs to be a good place come Sunday. The last game with an objective at the end of it — something that can benefit us all. Why wouldn’t you make it a positive place? Why wouldn’t you back our boys and slate theirs? Scream for every decision? Act like what has traditionally been accepted as a football supporter? Get there early. Sing, shout, make a noise; make a difference.
The bevy post match is going to taste all the sweeter with Champions League football at the end of the rainbow so let’s make it happen. Save the shower of bastards routine for another day. Bring some sunshine. Make it boss. Make the players feel 10 foot tall.
They deserve it. And so do we.
Up the Reds.
West Ham 0 Liverpool 4: The Pink – Our Post-Match Podcast