Article by David Rice – @davidjrice83
I’m out of explanations. This season is officially beyond my understanding of reality, of physics, nature, the realms of what is and what can be.
There’s something at play here that is in the club’s DNA and completely out of its control in equal measure. We’re not just walking on fine lines, we’re breakdancing on cliff edges with somersault finales. I’ve watched the replay of that goal at least thirty-four times by now and still, I can’t believe it.
I thought I was shocked two weeks before when Sergio Rico handed us three points by inexplicably taking Sadio Mane down in the box on a play that he absolutely did not need to. I still haven’t grasped what might have gone through Jordan Pickford’s head when he raised his wee little arms to keep that ball in play for Divock Origi and provide one of the best derby moments in recent memory. Or what happened to football veteran Julian Speroni to have him bat a ball in the air and into the path of Mo Salah, gift-wrapping a second goal for the Egyptian in a seven-goal thriller against Palace.
These events by themselves are minuscule in the grand scheme of a campaign, mere seconds in the hours long marathon of football that unfolds from August to May. But their significance is clearly not.
Perhaps it’s the presence of the Kop, or in the case of Rico, the traveling Kop. Is it possible there are actual football Gods and they are listening to the collective voice of those willing the ball into the net, delivering one astounding blunder from opposition goalkeepers after another? Maybe that collective voice is deafening their limbs to the signals of the brain. I honestly don’t know. Science and traditional wisdom does not seem to have an answer that satisfies.
In all of these previous cases, however, time goes on and you calm down a bit. You settle for a few days and you rationalise what’s happened and there is always another stretch of tough games, another big test on the horizon. You put it behind you based on logic which follows that terrible teams are defined by players doing terribly clumsy things. Logic that leads you to believe that in all of those other cases, what transpired made sense in a way.
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But with 6 games remaining, with this latest opponent possibly being the toughest test remaining, I’m not sure I come back the same as before. Undoing a side of Tottenham’s class through such a moment is something different. I won’t label it karma or fate, or anything else for that matter, but it is something different to see a World Cup winning goalkeeper not just mishandle that ball, but bounce it off a centre back that is widely considered one of the best around. And for him to not be able to find his footing in time to clear it off the line like he’s Joe Gomez in the derby…. Well, luck does not describe this my friends.
Luck is needing a tenner and finding one in an old jacket. You have a laugh, you move on. At this juncture, Sunday was more like needing your rent money and finding out your annoying roommate left the winning lottery ticket on the dining room table when he moved his shit out. This was a game changing, potentially pivotal moment in the grand scheme, a moment after which you never stop believing again.
The way that this has fallen for the Reds is truly remarkable. Those two points salvaged are massive to Liverpool possibly winning a title by the slightest of margins, the most exact measurements. The stars may never align like this again and we all have to grapple with the very real possibility that it will not be enough. That it is all still in City’s hands. If they do their business, this all means nothing, right?
No. Bollocks. It can all mean something if you let it. I respect the point of view that says it’s all random, that we as humans assign meaning to events with too much haste in service of narratives, hyperbole and answers full of absolutes to complex contextual questions. And I understand the temptation to look back at a season devoid of silverware and say, that was all for naught. But respectfully, I have to disagree. I did so five years ago and I will again now.
When we do look back on it, remember how you felt on Sunday. Remember the look on your friends’ faces. Remember the feeling of your throat in tatters, the exhaustion and the emotion. Feeling that good has to mean something that goes beyond measuring life, success and joy in silverware alone. It’s the silverware that drives it, but it cannot the end all be all.
You may have sensed it in my writing at some point, but I’m American. I’ve spent so much time listening to Scouse lads chat about football over the last decade and a half that I’ve absorbed some things into my lexicon and even my mentality. But I’m American, always an ocean away. It’s a strange experience to feel so close to something while being so physically far from it. I don’t get to experience the joy of absorbing the Anfield noise in person but once a year maybe, assuming I can afford the pilgrimage at a given time. So it’s hard to explain to some people around my way that yes, I am emotionally invested in something that’s over 4,000 miles from home, and that it can bring me to tears or make me feel ecstasy in ways that no other person, place or thing ever has. Most days, it’s just one of those things that if you know, you know.
And then there are days like Sunday. Days which make it easy because there are no questions to answer, it’s all there in plain sight for anyone to see. Part of the reason this club is what it is, why it’s so alluring to fans from every corner of the world, is its ability to channel the forces of the universe and bend reality to its whim from time to time.
Some folks are starting to talk about fate, about destiny. I can’t see that far ahead for the moment. It might be the case that it is, it might not be. We’ve been here before, we all know at this point that there’s miles to go on this journey and that the road might have a few more bumps along the way.
But I tend to be a glass half full kind of guy, so I like to stop and enjoy the view from this point in time. To quote an iconic Scottish duo, the best view of all is where the land meets the sky. Today, you can see what’s on the horizon, you can feel it, and you can play a part in it if you’re lucky enough. You can walk into a stand at Anfield and collectively will that keeper to bobble it. You can push this team to ride the crest of a wave of their own making for just a little longer. I’ve never seen the road forward for this club so clearly before and I’ve never been so desperate to do my part to support it.
As I start packing for this year’s journey to Anfield, I’m taken aback by the stark contrast to how I felt the last time I was over. It was just last season, but it was a time of not knowing, of simply hoping the Reds could once again get into the top four. I’ve nearly forgotten at times during this campaign what it was like to live in hopes of simply improving. This team has filled that space with certainty, of belief in its greatness. But as much as I want trophies and parades and glory, for the moment, I’m happy just to see that golden sky we always sing about on the horizon and shatter my voice box begging the universe to let us enjoy it just all summer long.
Article by David Rice – @davidjrice83