WHAT a day. What a night. What a goal. What a bevy. What a song.
“De, de, de, de, de, de…”
Or as Adam Melia, the sharpest Lyricist in Europe, sang.
“Who played Willy Wonka…”
If you weren’t hanging off a light fitting or standing on a drink laden table by about 9pm last night singing either of the above then you are doing it all wrong.
Footie, for me, is about moments; moments to remember for years to come. Nights out, partying with mates, days out watching the Reds. The better the Reds are, the better the days out. The better the Reds are, the more nights out there are. More games – more parties. More parties – more songs. More songs – better atmosphere. Better atmosphere – better Reds. Better Reds – more parties.
For too long we have been denied the best nights out, excluded from the best parties by big massive doormen, like Roy Hodgson or Tom Hicks, who wouldn’t let us in because we had trainees on. The impact of these pricks on our collective psychology is still being felt now. We have forgotten what it is like to be boss. As a fan base, we have forgotten what it is like to have faith in our team. The pain of the 2008-9 and 2013-14 nearly-men is still being felt pretty fucking deeply.
Yesterday, after we didn’t score in the first 20 minutes, all of our heads went. All round the ground, people were cry-arsing that Arsenal and Manchester City were winning, and while the atmosphere was good the nervousness transmitted onto the pitch. The Reds, who had started well, probing and pressing sensed the change and started trying to force it, shooting from everywhere and anywhere and panicking past themselves. It all made absolutely no sense. Degsi Lovren tried to twat one into the Arkles in an act of sheer panicky madness and in a clever ploy to prove his sanity and calm everyone down, followed it up with a Swanton Bomb off the top turnbuckle right into Patrick Bamford’s head. The usually unflappable Joel Matip started passing it straight out for a bit and Middlesbrough, who had the look of someone putting his coat on and typing his out of office before two weeks in Tenerife, suddenly thought about the potential benefits of getting a few bits sorted and contemplated having a go.
Then Gini bangs and we all went for a pint and a cuddle with our mates while singing about Willy’s chocolate factory, or whatever. Middlesbrough’s minds were made up for them and they left for the airport early to have an extra pint, and the Reds cantered to victory — and the rest is history.
The importance of us being able to get over the line, an ever-moving line, a line that kept running away like a rabbit from a lion, shouldn’t be underestimated, though. These Reds needed the collective experience of achieving something. These Reds need the collective experience of winning. These Reds need the collective will and belief that they belong at this level. In Jürgen Klopp these Reds have the perfect manager in place to engender this. There is a feeling emanating from the club at the minute that everyone involved is working towards a common goal of making Liverpool the best team in the country, in everything they do; the manager is certainly intent on that, his every utterance relates to it. He has consistently spoken of the importance of the fans to the overall ability of the team to perform.
On top of that, the appointment of Tony Barrett to head of fan engagement is up there with the most positive things the club has done in years. This is something they don’t really need to do. The stick used to beat the club with in recent years is that they don’t care about us and our boss nights out. We are expendable as they can replace us with someone who will spend well more money in the ground and give them a much lower level of customer-related headache. They don’t need to engage with us because we will never really give up and leave if we get shit service. Yet the appointment of someone like Tony, who will be no patsy, is evidence that the club gives a shit; that it values our custom and is buying into Klopp’s philosophy of being boss at everything, including looking after our fans. Doesn’t that seem like a really good thing?
We are finally in a position, with this manager to project ourselves back to where we belong. There is never really an excuse from the manager, no tempering of expectation, no politicking to garner power. When asked yesterday if the money of the Champions League was important his response of ‘well no, we already have money’, was brilliant. The question of whether the Reds were back where we belong was met with an emphatic heightening of the standard that this club should be reaching. There was no attempt to downplay expectations or limit our belief. It was a balls out, we are Liverpool, and we are here to win; a real statement of intent.
We are Liverpool Football Club, for fuck’s sake. We shouldn’t be worrying about Champions League qualification. It should be a formality. It should be par. We are one of the biggest clubs in world football. Missing out on Champions League qualification from now on should just be a blip. Let’s get back to having fun, winning big games, having boss nights out, writing new songs, forging new tales from far flung quarters of Europe and creating moment to cherish for the rest of our lives. You get the feeling that’s what this manager is doing. Who the fucking hell are we to argue with him?
Up the Willy Wonka Reds.
Let’s cash that golden ticket right in.