Don’t Talk About Fate. It’s Nonsense & Belittles These Players

They’re determined to put us through the wringer, aren’t they? What a set of lads. They’re determined to destroy me. I went into this game convinced that it would be a tough match and that it might well prove to be a banana skin. Then when Virgil van Dijk gave us the lead after just thirteen minutes I wondered whether maybe I’d been too kind to Newcastle United. That they allowed the six foot four PFA Player Of The Year to be virtually unmarked in the box for a free header from a corner suggested that maybe they weren’t the defensively solid team you’d expect from a side drilled by Rafa Benitez. Add to that the fact that our defence doesn’t concede many goals and the idea of doing anything other than winning seemed a remote possibility from the moment the ball struck the back of the net. One thing those of us that have supported the club for long enough will forever remember, however, is that Liverpool Football Club doesn’t do anything the easy way, so neither of the equalisers should really have been a surprise in hindsight.

When we retook the lead I settled into calmness again, only for it to be destroyed by a wonderfully struck goal by Solomon Rondon and then smashed into a billion pieces by Mohamed Salah’s injury. I Tweeted in that moment that it might well be the title over, such was my lack of conviction that we’d have the ability to threaten the Magpies in the closing minutes of the match. That wasn’t me crying it in, either. Andrew Beasley put up a screenshot of Liverpool’s shot-map for the final forty-four minutes of the game and it involved just one: the goal. We looked a spent force and as a supporter I felt broken. I watched the match at home with a friend and his wife and mine chatted through the mundanities of life in the background as I felt my emotions being ripped from one extreme to the other. How does normal life carry on when this feels so momentous? We needed an unlikely hero and, just as against Everton in the derby, a Belgian one stepped forward. I’ve seen people talk about ‘fate’, but that’s got nothing to do with these glorious Reds.

Football Doesn’t Care About Fate – It’s Too Cruel A Sport

I’ve seen countless people, people I respect, suggest that we have to win the title because of the moments that have occurred during the season to take us to this point. Moments like the moronic decision of Jordan Pickford to keep the ball in play when van Dijk had his last minute shot during the derby, allowing Origi to head it in for a 1-0 win. Moments such as Sergio Rico’s decision to haul Sadio Mané down inside the box when we were drawing with Fulham at Craven Cottage with just a few minutes left on the clock. Even moments like when Hugo Lloris failed to deal with Salah’s tame header in the game against Tottenham at Anfield that resulted in an own goal. Those that believe in fate have said that these moments have to mean something, that they can’t all be for nothing.

The reality is that football doesn’t care about fate. We didn’t win in Istanbul because of fate or divine intervention, we won because the manager altered his tactics and the players played the best games of their careers. ‘Fate’ doesn’t want us to win the Premier League or else any number of moments through the season that have benefited Manchester City would’ve gone the other way. Opposition fans that talk about the luck we’ve had this season remain weirdly silent about the decisions that have gone the way of Pep Guardiola’s team, such as Vincent Kompany remaining on the pitch at the Etihad when he tried to remove one of Mohamed Salah’s legs. This team has been exception all season long, losing just one game and battling to win the points at every opportunity. Don’t talk to me about fate having a hand in deciding the title’s destination, it belittles the manager and the players and the amazing job their doing.

I Hope Man City’s Players Believe In It, Though

As much as I think fate is a load of old nonsense, I do very much hope that Pep Guardiola and his players believe in it. I hope they sit in the dressing room before the match against Leicester City on Monday night and think about how it’s funny that the biggest game of their season lies in a game against a former Liverpool manager. When the match kicks off, I’d love them to be distracted by the idea that the ball might not bounce their way because fate is against them. Let the pressure of having to win get into their heads. Let them remember the moments we’ve been lucky this season and question their own belief system, wondering if maybe there is some higher power that wants us to win the title at their expense.

I think we saw the fatigue that sets in when you have to play a huge Champions League game either side of a Premier League match last night, but I also think we witnessed the pressure of going for a title come to the fore, too. Trent Alexander-Arnold is, as the song goes, the ‘Scouser in our team’, which I think we saw when he kept on misplacing passes and kicking the ball into touch under no pressure. Except there was pressure – the pressure of winning. City aren’t impervious to it. We’ve seen them look nervous in the midst of matches lately, so I hope their players suddenly start to think about the added pressure of fate not being on their side. I hope they see Divock Origi’s face loom large and picture Jordan Henderson lifting the Premier League trophy high above his head. Fate isn’t real, but for an hour and a half on Monday night I hope Kompany et al believe that it is and that it’s not on their side.

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