It’s Time To Stop Being Unbearable

It’s now more than two weeks since we all celebrated Mo Salah’s opening goal, Divock Origi’s match-sealing left-footed shot and Jordan Henderson hoist the Champions League trophy high above his head. The first week was filled with celebrations, the parade and a re-watching of clips from the match time and time again. Week two saw similar things happening but combined with a realisation that we’d have to add a touch more balance to our life to ensure getting a bit go work done at some point. Now week three will see the shift tilt even further in the balance of work over bragging, but it will also see something of a backlash from people determined to ilk out a little bit more enjoyment from the whole thing. Why shouldn’t we? After all, it’s not every month that you’re European champions and supporters of other clubs that pretend they’d do anything other than spend the entire summer doing exactly the same sort of thing if their club had won one of the two biggest trophies in the game.

My call for us to stop being ‘unbearable’, then, is nothing to do with the way that fans of other teams are reacting to it. In fact, that’s truly delightful. You’ve got to laugh at Evertonians, for example, who could have been born, grown up and been legally entitled to drink in America without ever having seen their club win a game at Anfield saying that we’re overreacting to winning the Champions League. They still go on about Pierluigi Collina as if he’s some sort of deep state figure. Equally it’s remarkable to me that Manchester City supporters have watched their club win an unprecedented domestic treble and yet have spent more time talking about the Reds than the players they have celebrating their own players. Football rivalries really do bring out the oddest behaviour in people. That we get to enjoy the achievements of our players at the same as fans of other clubs lose their heads all over the show without us even trying to annoy them is a delightful coincidence. So why do I think it’s time for us all to move on?

It’s Important This Doesn’t Feel Like The Destination

As Liverpool supporters, we’ve put up with some unbearable nonsense over the past decade or so. There is a very real world in which we could’ve won every trophy in the game before this season under the management of Fenway Sports Group without doing all that much different, with the following being the successes and the narrow misses:

  • League Cup Winners (2011-2012)
  • FA Cup Runners-Up (2011-2012)
  • Premier League Runners-Up (2013-2014)
  • League Cup Runners-Up (2015-2016)
  • Europa League Runners-Up (2015-2016)
  • Champions League Runners-Up (2017-2018)
  • Premier League Runners-Up (2018-2019)
  • Champions League Winners (2018-2019)

That is a list of near-misses and accomplishments that would be the envy of most fanbases, yet it has been used as a stick to beat us with. The Gerrard slip, the Salah injury, the ‘anyone but Liverpool’ shouts this season, in spite of everyone knowing about Man City’s financial dealings. It’s little wonder that Reds all over the world are feeling more than a little bit justified in their gloating at the expense of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho etc.

Yet the crucial thing is that nobody gets the impression that we feel as though we’ve reached the pinnacle of what we’re trying to achieve. When we won the same trophy in the 2004-2005 season it should have been the moment that we truly kicked on, reflected by our transfer dealings. Rather than bring in signings befitting of the Champions of Europe, however, we signed the likes of Jan Kromkamp, Mark Gonzalez and Bolo Zenden. We won the FA Cup the following season and challenged for the league a couple of seasons later, but the battle that Rafa Benitez was waging against the owners on behalf of the supporters eventually took its toll and we fell away. This isn’t the summer for FSG and Jürgen Klopp to feel that they’ve achieved what they wanted to but rather to double-down and go again.

We Need To Have A Steely Focus

Whether you agree with me will largely depend on whether you think the supporters should reflect the attitude of the management and players. I do not for one second believe that Jürgen Klopp and his team will be planning anything other than exactly how they can get one hundred points in the league next season and take the fight to Pep Guardiola and Manchester City in our pursuit of a first title in the Premier League era. They won’t be resting on their achievements of this campaign and feeling that we’ll definitely be able to do it again next time out. They’ll undoubtedly have seen the supporters line the streets of Liverpool for the trophy parade and thought two things: we want them to enjoy themselves and we want them to be able to do this again really soon. They’re right, too: fans should be allowed to enjoy themselves as much as we have been doing.

I’m very much from the Bob Paisley school of celebration, though. He famously once put a box of Championship medals on the table of the Anfield dressing room and told his players ‘Take one, but only if you deserve it’, being far more interest in what comes next to spend too much time thinking about what had already been achieved. I think it’s crucial that everyone associated with Liverpool Football Club looks at this as a stepping stone towards re-becoming the footballing behemoth that we once were, rather than the final step on our journey. We’ve had three weeks of celebrations, so for me it’s time to start looking ahead to what we can do in the coming campaign. A big part of that involves signing players that can strengthen the squad, but it also entails supporters being hungry for more. It’s been amazing celebrating our Champions League win, but imagine how good it would be if we added the Premier League trophy to the club’s cabinet.

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