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THE NEW SEASON
AND WE’RE GONNA WIN THE LEAGUE
HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT THE NEW SEASON? DO YOU WAKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT SHOUTING ‘LEVERAGED BUYOUT’ OR DO YOU MUNCH ON YOUR CEREAL DREAMING OF NUMBER 19? TWO RED WRITERS TELL US THEIR THOUGHTS.
THIS season we’re going to win the league. Despite the turmoil that’s engulfed our club in recent times – the managerial upheaval, the speculation surrounding key players, the ownership debacle – I say this with complete conviction.
In fact, I say it with the exact
BY NEIL SCOTT (Mr Glass Half-Full)
same conviction that I do at this time every year. When pre-season optimism is at its height and the inevitable setbacks, distractions and recriminations to come lie as far in the distance as Kate Moss at an All-You-Can-Eat buffet.
Because this is the one time of year when all teams are equal, in theory if not in practice.
Even supporters of those clubs routinely dismissed by the media as being unfashionable no-hopers – Stoke, Wigan, Blackpool, Everton – privately harbour dreams of glory, although logic and good sense suggest that their actual chances of success are roughly similar to the chances of Paul Merson expressing a coherent opinion.
For the most part, it generally takes about two-and-a-half games before giddy expectation is replaced by crushing despair and the realisation that a third round Specsavers Cup triumph at Morecambe is as good as the season is ever going to get.
But at Liverpool things are different. Our heritage demands that we challenge for silverware every year. Our dreams are rooted very much in reality, a reality underpinned by twenty-odd years of unbroken success, followed by twenty years of disappointment, rebirth, absurd triumph and deflating uncertainty.
And it is precisely because our dreams came true, again and again, that we are able to look at the start of each campaign as the gateway to a glittering future and as an opportunity for the next set of legends to weave themselves into the Anfield tapestry.
So it is in this vein that we approach the start of another new season. We count down the days between each friendly. We scour the back pages and the internet forums for news of the latest transfer target, clinging desperately to the belief that a flagship signing will somehow galvanise our challenge and lead us out of the metaphorical wilderness. We feverishly scan the Channel Five TV listings in the hope that our mid-tempo kick-about with a gang of Austrian insurance salesmen will be enough to oust that film where Jean Claude Van Damme punches himself in the face from the schedules.
And all the while, we quietly convince ourselves that this year, more than any other, will be our year. Well that’s the way it’s meant to work. That’s how it always worked in the past. When the gloom of Keegan’s departure was tempered by the realisation that his replacement was a player of even rarer gifts, we could sense that a seamless transition to greater heights was assured. When Barnes, Beardsley and Aldridge gave the first glimpses of a unique and thrilling chemistry in a pre-season exhibition against Bayern Munich, we knew we were heading for a footballing epiphany
Every year was the same. Even when our decline from greatness was well underway, we still clung to the idea that the dawn of each new campaign would herald the resumption of normal service.
For a while, I was personally convinced that the signing of Paul Ince was the long-awaited signal that the stars were once more in alignment and our coronation as champions was a mere formality.
I was wrong. Very, very wrong. It is probably fair to say though that this summer feels different.
Even the most blinkered of supporters can see that our prospects for the forthcoming season are as bleak as a Grimsby nightclub.
Coming off the back of a massively disappointing campaign, both on and off the field, we have subsequently plunged headlong into a period of even greater instability. We have witnessed the unseemly removal of the manager, a decision owing as much to the internal machinations of an increasingly
dysfunctional organisation as it did to a wholly unsatisfactory series of results. We watched helplessly while a procession of ill-informed experts and ex-players regurgitated a set of well-worn clichés to back up their lazy anti-Benitez agendas.
On a daily basis, tabloid muckspreaders have gleefully trumpeted the imminent departures of our most talented performers.
And, most significant of all, we are firmly mired in the financial equivalent of the End of Days, with a debt spiralling wildly out of control, a new stadium that seems further away than ever and owners that increasingly resemble a grotesque superannuated version of Laurel and Hardy (albeit a version of Laurel and Hardy where an endearing inability to manoeuvre an oversized piano down a suspiciously narrow stairway has been replaced by a propensity for bare-faced lying and rapacious corporate greed).
In short, our club seems to be approaching meltdown.
Amid such enveloping despondency, it is understandable that many supporters have chosen to
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moderate their on-field expectations.
There is a wearied acceptance that we face a mighty struggle to replicate last season’s seventh place finish, with the prospect of Champions League qualification widely dismissed as a pipedream.
The script has been written, the roles cast, and we are merely the carcass swinging limply as Rocky Balboa repeatedly pummels us, whilst Chelsea, United, even City, flex their biceps and squabble over who will make the best Stallone.
There is, of course, another scenario.
One where, despite the seemingly insurmountable hurdles, Roy Hodgson inspires a response of unexpected defiance and resolve. Where a set of players roundly condemned last season for their inconsistency, faint-heartedness and frequent mediocrity reveal themselves to be worthy heirs to the great teams of the past. Where a group of supporters that have been buffeted and splintered and let-down and enraged by the fall-out of an unsustainable ownership regime regain their pride and remember exactly what it was that made them Liverpool fans in the first place.
And where, some time in May, we can look back on the previous nine months with a mixture of relief, satisfaction and genuine, chestbursting delight.
And maybe, just maybe, with another title in our trophy cabinet.
That’s what I’m dreaming of. Is anyone with me? ReadmorefromNeilat: screamingwaves.blogspot.com