I was a 14-year-old in my parents living room in India, watching the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea, trying not to get yelled at for staying up past 11 on a week night. It was a tie that LFC ultimately lost thanks to a 98thmin Lampard penalty. But for reasons that can’t be explained, I fell in love with Liverpool Football Club that day. That feeling has only grown stronger over the last decade.
Over that decade I have come to strongly dislike a certain team from the red side of Manchester. We’ve seen them win their 18th,19thand the 20thleague title over this time and every time we play them it is a game as big as a cup final. On TV I saw – Suarez taking on the entire United defence at Anfield and beating Van Der Sar for a world class assist to Kuyt. I remember Gerrard taking three penalties against de Gea; the whole Evra handshake controversy and the 38 second red card for Gerrard. Since this is the biggest fixture of the league calendar, it has been on my bucket list to watch live at Anfield when I get a chance. I hope this happens sometime soon!
I moved to the US in 2012 and a year later, I was treated with a fantastic season which ultimately ended with the infamous Gerrard slip. The summer after that season, Liverpool played in the ICC in America. The nearest game for me was the tie against Olympiakos. It was the first time I had the chance to see Liverpool live. Seeing Gerrard play in front of me was one big thing I could tick off my bucket list. We were close to the league title the season before, but that pre-season did not feel like as good as it should have. We had just sold Suarez to Barcelona that month and there were rumors about Agger requesting a transfer on the very day of the Olympiakos game. Although it was a very special day for me seeing the reds live for the first time I had mixed feelings about the future.
Since that day, we have seen Jurgen Klopp take over as the manager. He seems to be the perfect manager for Liverpool providing us with heavy metal football on the pitch and heavy metal antics on the touch line. An incredible Dortmund game and a couple of broken Klopp glasses later, he has solidified his place as one of the most likeable Premier League managers.
Last season was one of the most enjoyable ones as a reds fan. I watched TheRedmenTV’s YouTube channel almost daily and when that was not enough, I resorted to listening to the ESPN FC podcast on the way to and from work. The team has been incredible, and the Mane-Firmino-Salah frontline has helped us all erase the Coutinho memories quickly. After convincingly swatting away Man City and Roma, we got to the Champions League final in style. I had to resort to watching the fantastic coach greetings from across the Atlantic but the stunning Anfield atmosphere was evident even on TV. We gave Madrid a good game despite losing Salah early on and making a couple of unfortunate errors on the biggest night. We couldn’t conquer Europe this time, but the progress was evident. Liverpool were back to the big boys table again.
As soon as the US tour was announced, I was checking Liverpool fixtures and could not believe my luck. Liverpool would play an hour away from my apartment. In the Big House, Ann Arbor! The opposing team was the famous Man United who went to Rome to see the Pope. We all know what happened to them next. Tickets were booked the first day and I had seats right outside the Liverpool supporters stand. Even though the game was after the World Cup, I could not wait to see the young reds play live.
A couple of tweets to ThePaulMachin later I figured that the supporters will be meeting at an Irish Pub in Ann Arbor (Conor O’Niell’s). https://youtu.be/lNbRUQgNeIM. We got to the pub around noon and it was already full and lively. I got to meet Paul from the TheRedmenTV. I had a total fanboy moment and couldn’t speak without stuttering! I managed to get a picture with him though, so it’s all good. The atmosphere in the pub was something that would compare to a Champions League game. The reds fans are clearly the best no matter what continent they are on. We probably outnumbered the United fans 3 to 1.
101,000 plus fans filled the stadium and all of them were in great spirits. Karius was the first player to walk out on the field and the reception he got was fantastic. It is amazing to see how the supporters in the stadium are still backing our players when they need it the most. The twitter world might want us to believe otherwise, but the real fans are still willing to stand behind one of our own.
The first half was a regular pre-season game.1-1 with a Mane penalty and a United goal from a free kick. Salah and Mane play like they are ready for the season to start already. Apart from the couple of offside chances, United’s bus remained parked despite efforts from Sanchez.
Liverpool were shooting towards the supports end the second half and I couldn’t wait to see some goals. Jones looked lively and played with a first team players confidence. Sturridge’s quality was a couple of levels above everyone else and his finish reminded me of the 13-14 season. Hope that he can keep himself available this season. Would love to see his intelligent runs and link up play with Bobby, Mane and Salah if he plays at no.10.
It was nice to see Ojo step up to take the pen. Fabhino was solid at no. 6 and it will be interesting to see how him and Kieta enhance our midfield this season. But the most memorable moment of the game came from the insane Shaqiri overhead kick. It was just as good as the overhead kick Can hit against Watford. Liverpool no. 23s are making a habit of this.
It is only a glorified training session, but it is always a good time to thrash Man Utd 4-1. With the reinforcements of Kieta, Fabhino, Shaqiri and Allison we have a squad to fight for silverware. There is a genuine air of excitement around the club and the supporters around the world. What a time to be a Liverpool supporter! #UptheReds. #YNWA. Chinmay Pote.