I MAY burst. We may burst. This is what it’s all about.
I’m just so red right now that if you cut me open you wouldn’t notice the difference between my fleshless exposed innards and my crimson exterior. We – breathes – are in a European Cup final. And everything is possible once again.
S’funny, but as I grew into my football fan body and brain as a kid, I was soon burdened by the enormity of what I’d chosen to commit to. It was a path. A calling. I came to realise that I was in, and I could never envisage a day when I’d be out.
I’ve read memoirs – Nick Hornby’s book about him and Arsenal comes to mind – where the protagonist had described periods where he’d “fallen out of love” with the game. They’d talk of becoming distracted or disillusioned. I simply don’t begin to relate to this state. I went from no interest in the sport aged 10 years and one month to being obsessed with football and Liverpool FC – as intensely as I am today – within weeks.
It took me about one month to brainwash myself and to attain the constant zealot-like faith levels I have enjoyed these past four decades. I am Liverpool FC, Liverpool FC are me. We are indivisible. Their pain is mine, their triumphs belong to me.
At times this truth has been troubling. I’ve often caught myself feeling a tiny bit guilty at the vicarious nature of my love/support. I think something was first piqued when I was 14 and came into school beaming/bursting with pride at Liverpool having beaten some Spanish team in a European Cup final. It was 1981.
I’ve never been a gloater but I must’ve exuded something just too smug for an Arsenal-supporting lad in my class. “Yeah Liverpool have won, but you haven’t. You haven’t won anything. It’s theirs not yours.” This threw me and, sometimes, still does.
It is a bit mad, if you detach for a moment, how much we feel we own the achievements of other people. People we don’t know and will never get to know. We don’t put in the yards, don’t have the talent, don’t kick the actual ball into the actual goal. We watch. We observe. We feel the pain of the defeat and the joy of the victory. As if we’d run every last mile. But haven’t actually done any of those things.
Recently I’ve come to a peace with this nagging doubt. And my mind has been calmed by my experiences in our latest European Cup run. We haven’t had a European Cup campaign like this in over 10 years. You forget things. Your immunity level changes.
What’s changed for me is witnessing and being a part of a crowd that has clicked into gear. In the team’s hour of need, the collective has stepped up. Yes, we are in a European Cup final because of how brilliant Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Bobby Firmino are, but we are also there because of us. All of us.
There are many good teams in Europe, but there is only one us. We believe we’re different/special, and that may grate from the outside, but from the inside it feels good and it feels right. And it’s unshakeable.
It’s not 11 lads facing Real Madrid in Kiev on May 26. It’s Liverpool. And “Liverpool” is not earth bound. Liverpool is a life force that binds a tribe. The team, Jürgen Klopp, Salah, they are the tip of the spear. We are its weight. We provide its momentum.
I’m getting carried away. Fuck it.
I’m going to Chelsea on Sunday. I want to be part of getting the boys over the line and safely qualified for next year’s Champions League. I hope to see a relaxed and confident team. I hope to be among relaxed and happy fellow Reds.
Somebody said the other day – was it Jürgen? – that to win, you must first be prepared to lose. I like that. I’m ready for us to lose at Chelsea. It can happen.
How roadworthy a Liverpool side will represent us at Stamford Bridge remains to be seen. The manager doesn’t have significant rotation options. This is also the biggest game of our league season, although no one really seems to want to acknowledge this fact.
Our heads are in the clouds, our eyes are blinded by the stars. Together forever.
Predicted 11: Karius; Clyne, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Alexander-Arnold; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Kick off: 4.30pm, Sunday
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Odds: Chelsea 24-19, Draw 27-10, Liverpool 12-5
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German team in the 81 semi la. Bayern.
But I said ‘final ‘ not ‘semi’. Real, not Bayern .
My bad. Soz
Great read. Really connected with that. I often wonder what is at the root of this bizarre obsession that grips hold of me stronger now than when I was a kid. I think the technology age has fueled the attachment more . I grow up reading the echo headline, match of the day and if you were lucky an article on Liverpool in match or shoot. Now you can get a proper fix every second.
I tried a couple of years ago to see if I could give up football and open some space for something else to come in without the constant mental noise that supporting a team brings. It lasted 2 weeks until I heard we beat Everton 4.0 and almost won the league.Like Hornby, my life is on hold until the league title is won again.
If fit,Clyne and Can should start in the final.The team aren’t fit enough for extra time.Could be a 5-4.
Can who has been out for several weeks? An Emre Can just recovering and not yet back in full training. Interesting.
It would be great to have him back for the bench as it gives us options. Likewise it would be great to have Lallana back also, but equally see him on the bench.
We just need effectively 2 draws to guarantee CL footy for next season. In fact draw today and the Chavs would still have to win their remaining games by incredible scorelines to over turn the goal difference column. So draw today and we can field whoever we like against Brighton to give them 90 mins of game time… A Brighton team who secured their own safety last night by beating Man Utd it has to be said, but still one we can beat even whilst resting a few to allow others some game time.
Don’t think this Chelsea game qualifies as our biggest league game of the season.
Unless we lose by 8 or 9 goals, top 4 is still completely in our hands. A win over Brighton in the last game of the season at Anfield puts us in it for next season.
And if we do struggle on the final day, good old Rafa would sort us out, as Newcastle host Chelsea. So fret not lads, just watch the game on Sunday in a relaxed state. We are playing CL footy next season.
Absolutely fucking bang on Rob. With you 100% on everything you’ve said. Lets go the Reds.
Win against chelsea will be huge. Need to get this cl spot sorted out.
Players are playing for the fans and fans are singing for them. Its a joint achievement. Ask klopp, he knows
Another great piece Rob, powerful. The season transformed into something remarkable right before our eyes. Standard match previews are out the window
It is your’s Rob, 100%. Always has been. As an OOT’er and foreigner, who basically never gets to matches, I don’t go around advertising I’m a liverpool supporter. I don’t like mentioning it because I feel like I don’t have the right to. Who the hell am I to Liverpool FC?
Whenever my fellow countryman or any other, similarly geopolitically disconnected person starts enthusing about their love for LFC I cringe. In fact I immediately dislike them a little. What makes them think they have a right to support a team that’s not local? That isn’t “their’s”? It’s the old tired argument, I know. But I can’t shake it, because in a sense it’s valid.
The only grain of integrity I keep comes from the fact that half my blood is red. Liverpool-blood. Genetically I’m bloody sound. Also there’s the fact I’ve spent roughly 75% of the past 20 years thinking about Liverpool FC. Either obsessing, raging or floating in extacy – seldom anything in between. The other 25% of the time I’ve had Liverpool FC in the back of my mind. Always there. That has to mean something, because I don’t choose to think about this all the time. If I could, I’d probably give it up.
Then again, nah, no I wouldn’t.
“Yes, we are in a European Cup final because of how brilliant Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Bobby Firmino are, but we are also there because of us. All of us.”
Yes just like Jurgen would say, it’s ALL of us, in this.
The team is going to be knackered and Chelsea know this. So they will huff and puff and we need to hold steady.
A couple of encouraging thoughts:
– Gini broke his away goal duck
– And Lallana is back at least on the bench
It’s going to be a really difficult match, but we can get this done.
Come on you Reds!