APRIL 19, 2015. Probably my lowest point as a Liverpool supporter.
The Reds travelled to Wembley to face Aston Villa with the chance to book their place in an FA Cup final and give Brendan Rodgers and the departing Steven Gerrard the chance to get their hands on some silverware after the near miss of 2013-14.
I’ll assume you know the rest. You must have seen Dejan Lovren’s shot at least.
It was absolutely turgid from Liverpool against a Villa side managed by Tim Sherwood who, despite having talented lads like Christian Benteke and a fresh-faced Jack Grealish, were nothing to write home about.
In many ways it was a microcosm of that 2014-15 season and it was a performance that looked an awful lot like the beginning of the end for Rodgers at Anfield.
It was genuinely the sort of day where you question your love for football, and I’ve spoken to loads of others who shared similar experiences on that day and at certain other points throughout that season.
Those ebbs couldn’t be further from the flows we are enjoying as Liverpool supporters now, though. It’s a great time to be a Red and the club is in rude health from top to bottom. And, despite a richly undeserved 5-0 defeat, tonight was another sign of that.
I’ll be honest and say that after 10 minutes, I allowed myself to start believing that the unthinkable could happen. The young Reds came flying out the blocks to such an extent that it looked as though they could trouble Villa, who showed signs that the pressure was getting to them.
The set pieces were always a worry. I watched a slightly more familiar youth side play in the EFL Trophy against lads from Leagues One and Two, and on those occasions the more experienced sides were able to make set pieces work in their favour. Men against boys etc.
The second goal left a particularly bitter taste and saw dreams of the miracle shattered, but what it didn’t do was break the spirits of those young lads on the pitch.
Some of them may be hurting after that. They’re young lads who have just lost, for many of them, their first competitive game of senior football by five goals. But I hope they can feel a sense of pride after tonight.
They left everything out on that pitch, showed great mentality and actually dominated the play for large parts. They were, in so many ways, a mirror of the first team we all swoon over on a bi-weekly basis, but they weren’t given the chance to win by the powers that be.
That they were put in that position in the first place is a damning indictment of those responsible for this scheduling mess. That Liverpool’s two most experienced 11s were in another continent while tonight’s fixture was played is nothing short of a shambles.
But the lads who took to the pitch tonight can hold their heads high. Because they reminded me why I’m so proud to support this club, and at one point had me dreaming that anything was possible. Tonight they were the very essence of what football is all about.
Dreams of Wembley revenge weren’t to be. In truth, it would have had to have been the greatest Liverpool win I’ve ever seen for that to be the case. But it was a sign of how far we’ve come from one of the worst defeats I’ve seen.
What tonight hopefully does is encourage more to buy into the lads we saw. It doesn’t cost much, it’s quite literally free to go down to Kirkby and watch them. The support is priceless.
Remember, the future is bright. Forza Neil Critchley’s mentality monsters.
“They lost 5-0, but Liverpool gave a really good account of themselves.” 👏
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) December 17, 2019