SOME people really don’t like us, do they?

I don’t mean just fans, but media outlets, pundits, the rent-a-quote Mersons and phone ins.

You expect the odd bit of abuse to head our way – it comes with the territory – but it’s more marked and darker since we started doing well.

There’s not much in the way of ambivalence for the league leaders from anyone, really. You’re either fully onboard with Jürgen’s lads or you’re one of those balls of angers who can’t help but jettison plumes of spittle at the very mention of our name.

I can’t understand it.

That’s not to say I’m bothered by it. It’s hardly a new thing. It’s just that we’re mining a particularly rich seam right now.

The victory at Selhurst Park saw fresh waves of bile lap against the banks of the Mersey as the conspiracy theories swelled and swelled. You see, if we win the league it won’t count as we’re corrupt or something. I’m not sure how that’s even possible.

Oh, and we’ve bought the refs too. They all love us (Martin Atkinson, Lee Mason…). And we now own the FA. You might want to check your history, lads – we don’t exactly get on.

My own favourite is that VAR was brought in to make things easier for us. We can chalk off goals or award ourselves dodgy ones. We’ve got reps in Stockley Park with their hands on the mouse now.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 23, 2019: Referee Kevin Friend waits for a VAR decision on Crystal Palace's opening goal before disallowing it during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mad theories and abuse are fine, though I can’t understand it as one of the great pleasures of footballing life is talking to opposing fans about their side. I love that. Football discussion is a universal language and an ideal helpmeet when we’re tasked with the uncomfortable business of sitting together and making small talk.

Here’s an example. In the mid 90s I was invited to an engagement party as a plus one. Not being the most gregarious of men, I wanted to be elsewhere while my guest bounced from conversation to conversation around the room.

While I sat glumly alone at a corner table, a Geordie lad approached and asked me who I supported. He frowned at my answer and I feared there’d be some sort of tiresome Harry Enfield impersonation heading my way.

Instead he shook his head sadly and said “mate, we need to talk about your full backs”. He then sat down, pulled empty pint glasses to him and marked out a back four. He saved the night.

Something similar on the journey back to Central London after the Palace game. One of their fans asked me about my loyalties as we waited for the train. Again, I expected fury given the late winner, but he just wanted to discuss the game and we ended up talking for 20 minutes about both sides.

He was more furious with Zaha than VAR and said that Palace weren’t getting the rub of the green at times when they really needed it. Oh, and he couldn’t understand how Lovren was still a thing, though he accepted that he played well on the day.

In return, I told him that of all the other clubs, I find Palace the least irritating. Never a second club, you understand – more of a soft spot. They at least make some noise, sing solely about their club rather than the ‘sign on’ shite and they too have a 1960s song as their anthem. I like that about Palace.

An oasis of solid support missing from an age of tedious persiflage. They also have an eagle flying around the pitch and what’s not to like about that?

When my stop arrived, we shook hands and went our separate ways. It was a nice moment. One match-going fan to another. A common bond separated only by team badges and geography. Each with our own frustrations and dreams.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 23, 2019: Crystal Palace supporters during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The other side of that world – online – is an empty pantomime. ‘LiVARpool,’ corruption, cheats etc. Dreary or comical according to taste.

Remember the lad who claimed we had magnets in the ball when Origi scored in the derby and that his shot had bounced twice on the bar because it was steel or something? That’s what I mean. Where do you start with that?

Rivalries are fine. I still hate the usual clubs and have the odd irrational dislike elsewhere (never liked Villa, never understood Arsenal), but I don’t think I’ve come up with stories of backroom collusion whenever United or Everton do well. I’ll look into the magnet thing.

The problem with pointing this out is the accusation of paranoia. “It happens to all clubs. Why are you bothered by it? Stop being so precious,” etc. I’m not at all. It’s just interesting. Scientifically interesting.

Take the recent Gomez and Sterling spat. Sometimes players don’t get on. Sometimes even players on the same side don’t like each other. Tommy Smith couldn’t abide Emlyn Hughes. More recently Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham barely spoke. All four won European Cups.

Joe and Raheem had a set-to a few days earlier which bled into training while on international duty. I reckon that sort of thing goes on about twice a week. Maybe someone nutmegs another once too often or hogs the towels in the dressing room or something and needs to be brought down a peg or two.

It’s the same in most offices and workplaces. The ‘oh, not this prick again’ roll of the eyes when he/she walks into the room.

It’s Joe that gets booed. He gets a scratch, the other lad accepts the blame and takes a ban, but it’s Joe that gets booed by the anthem-singing face painters. He’s the Scouser (from Catford) so is fair game.

It was clearly Maguire’s fault anyway.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 10, 2019: Manchester City's Raheem Sterling (R) clashes with Liverpool's Joe Gomez during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

No one’s calling for logic here, but the onset of social media has made it even funnier. I suppose it’s better than kicking lumps out of each other like the old days. Sticks and stones and all that.

Oh, there have always been nutters. I remember being on The Kop once when a man next to me hurled all sorts of vitriol at the away fans gathered in the Annie Road. He was going to do all kinds to each and every one of them once we were outside the Arkles and send their limbs back to their loved ones as a keepsake.

The away fans being?

Walsall. In the League Cup.

I suppose he’s online now, shouting about ‘Fraudiola’ and Jordan Henderson.

That’s fine. We’re all in this for different reasons even if we all want the same thing – the rise and rise of Liverpool Football Club. It’s stranger when the media jump in.

No, hang on… It’s stranger when older members of the media jump in. You know who I mean. That leap from years of journalist training and endeavour to clickbait, agenda-led copy. One in particular – a Man City fan – seems to have forgotten that reporting and ‘this will annoy them’ pieces aren’t the same thing.

Still, we’re top of the league and if we’ve angered some people then we must be doing something right. I just prefer it when you can talk to fans of other clubs about common stuff rather this need to be outraged at anything with a Liver bird on it. Substance over panto.

Oh, and that Palace fan? Furious about us selling them Benteke. He’ll never forgive us for that. Ever.

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