LFC vs Man City Afterthoughts

For more than 20 years of supporting this football club with noteworthy regular heart attacks along the way, I never felt that way watching a game like the last. Not even the wee hours fighting back from 3-0 down at HT on a famous night in 2005 came close. I remember telling the forumers a comeback would happen. Most must had thought I was insane but Liverpool went on to record one of the most stunning comebacks in Europe Cup history. When the euphoria died down, some forumers pointed out there was only a few among us who didn't shut off the television but I was the only one who was believed in a comeback. It wasn't that I am naturally a positive supporter. Those who knows me well enough knows how negative I have been going into games. I'm not sure that is a personality thing or I am too conditioned to my team failing. Perhaps a little of both. Despite a season of surprisingly consistent good performances by this Liverpool team, I went into almost every game fearing a bad result but they proved me wrong each time. Away grounds such as St Mary's, Old Trafford, White Hart Lane, Britannia and the Stadium of Light, grounds where we'll come back with nothing every season, exceeded my expectations and returned a maximum of 15 points.

The Champions League final in 2005 was an exceptional one where I felt positive going into the game. That didn't mean I wasn't reduced to a nervous wreck during every minute of the game. The game against Man City last night felt like deju vu. I made a rare prediction of 4-2 win to my close friends because I had that 'feeling'. Despite the belief that my team would win a tremendously strong opponent, I felt nervous all week just that that week in May. 

Non-Liverpool fans would sneer at that. After all, it was just another big game season in, season out.  But it wasn't and most real Liverpool fans would know. It was the 25th Anniversary of Hillsborough, the tragic event that made me a Liverpool supporter with the way the club, fans and everyone associated with it came together and support one another through the dark times. Then, there was the relentless seek for justice for the victims of the disasters for 25 damn years. How many of us would have persevere for a cause that long? The club never stopped supporting the movement and finally forced new inquests into the case. Throughout the years, fans of the club had to put up with degrading labels of rival fans such as 'Loserpool' or the mocking of our mantra of 'I'll rather walk alone' but that was just banter, albeit tasteless. The supporters in Anfield having to endure the chants of 'Murderers' in the stands for years is another thing of its own, that is as low as rival fan can get. The club and people deserves closure from Hillsborough, much as they deserve justice.

Many neutral fans are won over by the attractive style Liverpool is playing this season. Along with the fact that Steven Gerrard, who have carried the club for years, the sentiment of the neutrals is that if there is any justice left in football, let Liverpool FC wins the title this season, just for Gerrard if not anything else. But league titles are not won by sentiments, romanticism or the most goals scored by a team. They are won by the best teams with the most points at the end of the season. If this Liverpool team is not the best in the league, let the deserving one win it. In my bias opinion, this Liverpool team has what it takes to win it. I have never watch my team win a league title before so I don't really know what it takes but I'm backing the bid simply because of the fact I have never witnessed this level of team spirit in any Liverpool teams I've watched. That is special to me and hopefully that is the missing piece of the puzzle to take us all the way - the willingness to fight for one another.

Steven Gerrard shed tears of joy and relief last night. A friend called him a crybaby. In truth, I had tears welling the same, twice. Once during the minute of silence, when the camera panned across the backs of the Liverpool team, with the JFT96 mosaic clearly in view. That game meant so much, so much. It was more than a game or a potential title decider. Deep inside, I applauded the visiting Manchester City fans for their class, respecting the occasion by not singing or chanting during that minute, unlike their red counterparts or the London plastic blues. Liverpool fans in the stands would have given their Man City fans their hugs for that alone. But when the minute was up, it was WAR. Liverpool fought for their lives and so did Man City. Neither team deserved to lose. I wouldn't say the better team won, rather the hungrier one. When crybaby Gerrard huddled his young team, my eyes reacted the same. The team reacted like they had won the World Cup yet nothing was won yet and Gerrard quickly reminded them that but it was apparent for anyone watching, that was the team who wanted it more from the game.

My buddy chose Martin Skrtel as the MOTM, having scored an important goal and defending well against the lethal Manchester City attacks. My MOTM however, was Coutinho. Since the little Brazilian joined us, he has been a revelation. I would go as far to say Coutinho is the missing player who would have won us the league title in that 2009 team. I couldn't believe a player of such calibre came to us at only £8.5 million pounds. At only 21 years of age, Coutinho is loaded with potential to be an even better player than he is. Throughout the game last night, he hustled, tackled and worked tremendously hard in defence and was breathtaking skipping past players in attack. He was eventually rewarded with a peach of a match winning goal, set up beautifully by Vincent Kompany, of course. I can't believe Coutinho is not even picked for the Brazil World Cup squad whereas the likes of Willian and Oscar made it.

10 successive wins on the trot. I couldn't remember when was the last time I saw a Liverpool team did that, if it ever happened during my watch. It wasn't enough to take us to promised land though. In fact, it appears that we will need to break a Premier League successive wins record to win the title, a mammoth task to ask from any team, much less an inexperienced Liverpool team only aiming to get back into the Champions League in the beginning of the season. Moreover, 10 games ago, the table looked like this:

2Manchester City2317244253

So it is still anyone's guess who will be the eventual winner of the season with 4 more games left, 12 points at stake. I'm not convinced Liverpool has done enough to win it but we certainly deserve to be where we are at this stage. For one, we have yet to beat Chelsea this season. To be the best, we have to beat the closest contenders at least once to compliment the fast-track bullying over the rest. There are a lot more work to be done and I believe Brenden Rodgers and his team are putting their best feet forward.

I found so many closet Liverpool fans among my friends through this game. Throughout my life, I've been surrounded by Manchester United fans. Imagine there was only a Liverpool supporter besides me in my whole company during National Service. They Mancs aren't havin it good this season. Hopefully my Man United fans would have a chance to justify their claims that they would support their club all the way even if they get relegated. It is easy to be a supporter when you are winning things but no so when you're not, they'll find out. Compare to these folks, who enjoyed success for the last 2 decades, it isn't easy to be a Liverpool fan. It has been 24 years since we won a league title, though occasional cups ease the pain along the way. Just barely a few years back, we were playing like Wimbledon of the yester-years under Roy Hodgson. Then we were so close to oblivion, to go into administration like Leeds United, who has failed to make their way back to the Premiership since. No club of any stature is exempted from a permanent fall from grace after years of gross mismanagement behind the scenes. The complete turnaround in fortunes in such a short time is a reward good enough for any Liverpool fan. A taste of a title win is unimaginable, even for the most optimistic. Though we are so close, there is always the possibility of falling short once again. 

Only 4 games to go. 4 Cup Finals, including playing Chelsea at Anfield. Every game is a must-win.

Regardless of the outcome, I'm grateful to have the privilege of being part of the ride. 
Regardless of the outcome, we'll walk on. Hopefully this time, skipping a little.

1 comment:

  1. I am with you for this.
    It's been way too long even for me to experience of lifting the Premier League cup. It's been 24 years for me.

    As Brendan Rodgers always repeat "One game at a time", even if we fail to win the BPL ttile this year, the comaraderie and the passion to fight on to get the winning goal when trailing is something that we should be proud of. 4 CUP finals. The longest April/May that a Liverpool fans will have to go through. Together with heart-attacks along the way.