Liverpool are fully on course for another classic season at Anfield. The familiar – if somewhat derided statement, “It’s our year” – spoken by loyal fans of the Reds appears to be coming true. It will be Liverpool’s year. Or more accurately: It’s going to be a typical Liverpool year.
In the late eighties the comedic Scouse stereotype would have worn a shell-suit, had large styled permed hair and an equally impressive moustache, celebrated having silverware, and after Harry Enfield came along the phrase, “Calm down, calm down,” was added to the picture. Only a few things have changed since then. The modern Liverpool fan has replaced “Calm down” with “It’s our year” or “Five times” and they’re no longer a perennial threat for major trophies.
The long cycle of winning has been replaced with the annual Sisyphean approach of blind faith, ignoring inadequacies, finding false messiahs, slowly blaming exterior forces, glancing toward next season, before claiming all will be better with a fresh start and that the new season will be their year.
In order for the yearly cycle to correctly function a Liverpool fan, in order to facilitate having a typical Liverpool year, needs to sign up for a lifetime of fickleness and memory loss. Failure to do this would highlight contradictions to oneself. The club itself does its part by scouting the globe for talent that is good enough for a Europa League push. Any higher quality than this could accidentally land a first Premier League title, any worse and the well of hope could run dry.
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Being immune to the sound of their own voice, thus recalling statements made, some diametrically opposed opinions can form within the same individual. They can make Raheem Sterling go from the best young player in Europe to one that would have been behind Ibe had he stayed, and not being worth £20m. They painted Sterling as greedy but informed Adam Lallana that leaving Southampton was the proper thing to do.
The differing stances can passionately defend Luis Suarez as he munched his way through the pro game, claiming he was never going anywhere, before spinning the new idea it was a good time to let him go. They certainly haven’t missed his goals, had he stayed they’d have been in real danger of winning the league.
Depending on the run of form the club is in, trustworthy looking Brendan Rodgers can go from the best man for the job, and one of the most intelligent bosses in the game, to a clueless inexperienced guy nobody ever wanted. When people like Carlo Ancelotti appear to be in the frame the Kop faithful swing toward the latter.
Former players play their part, too. They all see Anfield as a place that only a loon would want to leave. Two-club man Steven Gerrard speaks ill of deserters, while ordaining current players with average ability, all from his Los Angeles home where he’s currently working hard to obtain his first ever league title. Jamie Carragher gave a masterclass in hypocrisy by declaring Mario Balotelli a bargain when they bought him for £16m only to say a year later he couldn’t believe Brendan Rodgers ever signed him. Phil Thompson hasn’t spoken sense since he sacked God (Fowler) and Ronnie Whelan said this week that Ings had the same instinct as Suarez.
It always surprises when a club that just staves off the threat of relegation purchase players from those that did go down and wonder why a year later they’re in the same predicament. The same applies to Liverpool. If they skim players from Newcastle United and Southampton, while seeing their best go to Real Madrid and Barcelona why is it a surprise they compete below the successful teams?
With any system that faces constant fluctuation there are bound to blips. This came in the 2001/02, 2008/09 and 2013/14 seasons respectively when Liverpool finished runners-up. However, it should be noted that the Champions League victory of 2004/05 wasn’t an anomaly. Liverpool fans had trademarked the phrase: Five Times. As such there was a legal obligation to fulfil their quota of European titles and extensively use the mantra.
It’s still early in the season so Roberto Firmino is still the best Brazilian since Pele and James Milner is the new Stevie G. Okay, he’s not that good, more like a Gazza in his prime or a Bobby Moore. By May Brendan will be out of his depth (if not out of a job beforehand), Jimmy will be no better than Charlie Austin and Firmino will be wondering how he manufactures a move to a team playing in the Champions League.
All the ingredients are present for a perfect Liverpool year.