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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Laurel and Hardy where an endearing inability to manoeuvre an oversized piano down a suspiciously narrow stairway has been replaced by a propensity for bare-faced lying and rapacious corporate greed).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