When Barcelona Come To Anfield There Should Be No Red Carpet For Former Players

I always watch the full duration of Liverpool matches. Whether we’re winning or losing, I stay until the final whistle when I’m at Anfield and I watch every minute of the games on TV when I can. Yet I confess that I switched over for the final ten minutes of the Spurs – City game last night. As soon as Sadio Mané’s shot hit the back of the net it was evident that the tie was over as a contest, with Porto having failed to score a goal in nearly two hours of football and therefore unlikely to net four times in the hour or so that remained. When Roberto Firmino made it 3-1 with about fifteen minutes left of the match I decided to see what everyone was going on about with regards to the game playing out at the Etihad, flicking back briefly to see Virgil van Dijk’s header strike the back of the net. I’m glad I did, too, such was the drama that played out in the final few moments of the game in Manchester.

We can and will discuss how this will affect Manchester City’s season, acting as though we’re all amateur psychologists and theorising about how they’ll now go all out to win their remaining games or explain how the manner in which the goal was disallowed will crush them for the rest of the campaign and they’ll fall away completely. The point of all this is, though, that what Jürgen Klopp is getting these players to do is absolutely incredible. I felt comfortable turning over to watch a different match in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. That’s bonkers, when you think about it. Oh I’m sure there are some Top Reds© out there that will tell me I was wrong not to watch the full ninety, but football is about having fun and I had well more fun watching Pep Guardiola’s face drop when he realised the goal had been disallowed than I would have done watching us see a game out easily. I want us to have fun when Barcelona visit, too, just as long as we don’t roll out the red carpet.

The Crowd Hating Players Gets Into Their Heads

I deplore the racist abuse that Raheem Sterling has been given by certain sections of the footballing community. I think those responsible should be given bans from the game and be forced to enter re-education programmes before being allowed to return. Yet I absolutely do not want the Liverpool fans to stop booing him to the extreme every single time he touches the ball. The booing he endures when the Reds go up against Manchester City has zero to do with the colour of his skin and everything to do with the manner in which he left Merseyside. We can’t blame him from a footballing point of view, of course, given the winners’ medals that he has in his trophy cabinet right now. But that doesn’t mean that we have to roll over and accept it because that’s not the way football works.

More importantly, it is very clear from the way that the youngster plays when he comes up against us that we get into his head. He has yet to play well against Liverpool in the colours of Manchester City, clearly allowing the occasion to get to him. The boos, the jeers when he misplaces a pass, the (non-racist) abuse sent his way by our crowd stops him from playing his best football. That’s why I hope it never stops, because he is a sensational footballer who could do us serious damage if he managed to play us with a clear head. It’s also what I want the crowd to remember when Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho come to town next month. Remember the red carpet that got rolled out for Cristiano Ronaldo and co when we played Real Madrid and how the Anfield crowd seemed to fawn over them as they strolled to a victory. Don’t let it happen again.

They Both Left Under A Cloud

In amongst the desire of some Liverpool supporters to see Philippe Coutinho brought back into the fray at Anfield, it’s easy to forget the lengths that he went to to force his way out of Merseyside in the first place. He basically downed tools, refusing to play in our Champions League qualifier match against Hoffenheim in August of 2017 before doing something similar as January rolled around. He decided that his future lay at the Nou Camp and he went to the extent of moaning and complaining about it to his teammates in order to force Jürgen Klopp’s hand on the matter. I’m not one of those supporters who thinks that makes him the scum of the earth, but I do think it needs to be borne in mind when he rocks up on Merseyside on the seventh of May hoping to knock us out of the Champions League.

Similarly, whilst I can’t look into the striker’s mind and know the truth, it’s likely that Luis Suarez’s decision to bite Giorgio Chiellini was designed the make Liverpool feel that they had no choice but to wash their hands of the Uruguayan in the wake of the 2014 World Cup finals. Even before that we shouldn’t forget that he tried to force his way out of the club to sign for Arsenal of all teams. Both players scored some stunning goals for us and gave us some truly wonderful memories, but they did their utmost to force the club to sell them to other teams rather than fight and try to help improve the Reds as much as possible. When they turn up at Anfield let’s not think about the goals but think about the rebellions, the moments that we should hate them for. Let’s give them the same hell we give to Raheem Sterling and hope it has the same end result.

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