FOOTBALL’S a bit of a mad one, isn’t it?
The tricks it can play on you, the anxieties it can bring out despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the way it’ll make you reach for straw of despair and yet keep you hoping for the impossible.
I’m not having it that I was the only one in the ground thinking, nay, assuming, the worst when Michail Antonio made the most of one of Emre Can’s catalogue of miscalculations today to reduce West Ham’s deficit to only two goals.
Despite tons of evidence — because why would you take notice of the vast majority of times a consolation goal has turned out to be exactly that? — it’s easy to think that Liverpool will do a Liverpool.
The atmosphere in the ground in the 10 minutes following West Ham United’s goal was testament to the trepidation ingrained in a significant number of Kopites.
I know, because I’m one of the worst for it.
It’s something we, as a collective, need to pack in, and pack in now.
We’re committed, as a fanbase, to torturing ourselves with what ifs of the worst kind, the sucking on teeth, the intake of breath, you know it, I know it.
The cocksure swagger of yesteryear replaced with the prickly anxiousness of near misses, reinforced with every passing year without a big tin.
But the defeats are becoming fewer and wins becoming more frequent despite an increasingly competitive field.
If ever a marker for progress was required, we can only look to the last fortnight to see how far Liverpool have come.
Today’s victory against West Ham puts Liverpool, at the time of publication, second in the league in a freak season in which Manchester City — having only registered one league defeat all season against you know who — have ran away with it.
The same Liverpool side, who in their first Champions League knock-out fixture in nine years registered a record victory, against the Portuguese Primeira Liga’s unbeaten Porto, by five goals to zero and now have more than a toe in the quarter finals.
And this despite all the glorious flaws, the obvious fixes, the little bits of polishing, the weaknesses that are already being addressed, with Naby Keita en route, as well as another goalkeeper — unless Loris Karius can maintain his recent form and improve further.
We strive for heroes and totems, and yet we have a lad from Egypt, if we are going to compare debut seasons, who has far surpassed the impact of Luis Suarez.
We constantly look for holes in the plan, overanalyse small details, embrace the nagging voice when all the evidence points to the contrary.
All the chat going in the game today is that we can’t perform against teams that park the bus, but this is expediently becoming the exception rather than the rule, even if it doesn’t dominate the psyche.
The Reds might just be on the verge of something special, but we need to recognise we also have a part to play in it.
We need to trust that it will happen, otherwise, what’s the point?
What is there to suffer other than the fear of defeat itself?
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I know what you mean Andy, but I always felt we were always in control and there were more goals coming even if they had snatched a second. The team is actually more mature than the majority of our fanbase.
I am already backlashing against my own backlash against Karius, which is more an indication of the general mindfuckery of being a Liverpool fan than the actual performance of the neatly-coiffed German lad.
Good peice Andy I’m in the Kop 105 and you could feel the anxiety taking over, but to be honest we’re it used to be the majority I do feel more fans are coming round to your way of thinking and you are right it does feel like Jurgen is starting something special so let’s enjoy it and be positive
Best weekend ever. WBA gonna get relegated. Liverpool (notice the team sheet no injuries what was that like this time last year) Big same got Deened. And to top it off Conte will do the C** tomorrow. Its all because he wanted to join Liverpool and they choose Benítez. I love it when they lose. Love it.
Good read but analysis aside watching this liverpool side breeds these reactions from fans for failure of controlling the game with us being capable of outrunning the opponent in one moment and the being outrun in spells with in the game all these nice result we have had have had these crazy spells in the games. We need to keep the ball more when we lead team and play with intent of putting life out of a game at 3 nil
I wasn’t at the ground but we weren’t at all good in the few minutes after their goal and a couple of the passes played suggested panic. The players need to take that out before the crowd does. I now think we are more likely to score when we get a corner than concede when they get one. But that is because that now we have VVD and a goalkeeper without glue on his boots, we don’t look like we will concede every time. Not because I have examined my psyche.
Pretty much agree with all that Andy, I think this panic after we concede it a modern day football thing, after seeing how we were playing we should have backed the lads to go again, the crowd getting tetchy just spreads out onto the pitch and causes anxiety among the players as well, we are always gonna have moments in the match but we should just raise the roof instead of the collective freak out! What a season this is turning out to be and I can’t wait to see the next phase of this team next season.. Up the Reds!
Well said Andy. There was far to much knee jerk stuff before xmas including some of your own writing as you seem to acknowledge eg after Seville which ignored the big picture that slowly but surely we are making great progress for the long term under Klopp. Get behind him and his men, even more so when mistakes are made and games lost.
Glad you have flagged this up. Speaking for myself, the neurotic carping and micro analysis of every perceived slip by the team is grindingly tedious. Mistakes will happen, but we are surely on a very good track right now.
Just wanted to mention how much I love this year’s kit. Takes me back to the 1981 European cup final and my earliest Reds memories.
The trauma of Mignolet and Moreno will take a while to recover from. The efficacy of the current first 11 prescription is apparent.
Agree with the tenor of the comments on here which are maybe suggests there is a sensible silent majority of supporters who like Klopp said only this week recognise that Liverpool footballers are human beings as well, playing at the highest level in a league which has never been more competitive to get into the top 4.
Can a team that has only lost 3 league matches and is pretty much already through to CL quarters be as bad defensively as the moaners make out? Whichever way you look at it, too much knee jerk reaction to an individual’s mistake only fuels negativity and works against what the team is trying to achieve. Time to take stock is at the end of a season not in the middle of the fight.
It’s a great article by Andy and really brings out so much of the tension that lies at the heart of the support base. Doubters v Believers. Some people will only be convinced when/if we win the league but too many doubters will make Klopp’s job impossible.
I think our defence is actually pretty good. If you take the last 3-4 months, even before Virg and Karius came in we actually concede around the same as United. The two early defeats to City and Spurs skew the figures quite a bit. Of course , we still conceded those goals but since then we’ve been a lot better. The thing that we need to see is if we are still susceptible to a collapse a la Arsenal and Sevilla. Hopefully not.
Echoeing one of the posters above I no longer stress out at set pieces and corners swinging into our box. For sure there will be the odd clanger but it all feels a lot calmer. I find myself actually enjoying games of late, a novelty. I remember winning trophies, leagues, cups, european cups. I remember knowing we were never beat, expecting to win, expecting to go on long runs and reel whoever might be in front of us. It was a great calm feeling. I am getting flashes of this now again. I like it. It’s coming.