“Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart”.
We’ve all sang the words, more times than we can count.
We’ve all felt it too. Hope.
I don’t think any supporter base is more hopeful of returning to football’s top table than Liverpool’s. Without a great deal of encouragement we seize upon the slightest hint that good things are to come. We’re on top of the world. Then, just as quickly as hope was seized, it’s cast aside when it begins to look forlorn.
Maybe it’s modern football? Maybe it’s just that I’ve been hoping for a league win for my entire adult life? Shit, I was hoping for it during my adolescence too. But whatever it is, I’m finding hope harder to come by nowadays.
Which is strange. Given the manager, given some of the players in the squad, hope should be easy. But it’s not.
So maybe it’s just this season? I’m used to an emotional rollercoaster, but never have my hopes been raised, only to be subsequently dashed, as frequently as they have during this season.
It started in the summer. A solid end to the previous campaign had meant that Champions League football was back. Sure, there was a qualifier to get through, but hope didn’t come into that. I didn’t need to hope that we’d make it through. I knew we would.
Mo Salah came in. A transfer record was broken, even if only by a whisker, it was broken. It spoke of a hope that the club’s transfer policy was changing. It was clear, the value was no longer to be found in recruiting 18 and 19 year olds and hoping for them to do the business, before selling them exactly as they began to enter their peak years.
Mo Salah was coming in off the back of a couple of fantastic seasons in Italy. He was primed to breakout. And we’d seemingly gotten a deal. Because the Neymar transfer would come along later and change everything. For once, Liverpool seemed ahead of the curve. They’d gotten in there quick before prices would go crazy.
There were the links to Virgl Van Dijk too. More hope. Hope that the manager had realised he couldn’t get by with his current defenders. He needed reinforcements. He was willing to get them. And pay big to get them.
Not only that, he was looking pretty damn likely to get them too.
Virgil Van Dijk seemed set to turn down Manchester City and Chelsea, because he seemingly shared the manager and supporters hope for the future of the club.
Then there was Naby Keita. The best player in the world none of us knew anything about. The youtubes, oh the youtubes. Hope was flowing all over the place by now. He looked amazing. The best midfielder in the Bundesliga said all the experts.
Mo Salah. Virgil Van Dijk. Naby Keita. Statements. Statements of intent. Statement’s of “We are fucking Liverpool and we are not messing around”.
And then we messed around.
Somehow, we fucked up the Virgil Van Dijk deal. And I mean we properly fucked it. Brexit levels of fucked it. Started rowing for the shore, issuing apologies and assurances that we wouldn’t try to buy the player.
It didn’t end there though. We couldn’t get Naby either. Baby Keith wasn’t happening till next year; a premium paid for the privilege of signing a player a year later than we actually wanted him.
What’s going on here? I wanted Champions League nights and a title challenge, not public apologies and buying players for next year, for more money.
And that’s not even the worst of it. I’ve forgotten about Phil Coutinho haven’t I? The wee magician. Best player at the club. Decides to jib it. Soz Jurgen I wanna go to Barca.
Get’s an injury. So they say. Nobody believes them. He doesn’t play. Potentially screws our previously cast iron chances of qualifying for the Champions League by being unavailable. Wee magician? Wee shithouse more like.
But it’s OK. Klopp tell’s him to do one. You’re not leaving son. That’s not cool. The club stands firm. We’re through to the group stages.
We smash Arsenal. Mo Salah looks a bit special. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rejects a new contract at Arsenal, turns down Chelsea and more money to join us. Cheeky little breaking of the transfer record again too. Hope is back.
We didn’t get Van Dijk. But Mo Salah’s gonna be a superstar, people seem to – thankfully – be going with ‘Ox’ instead of ‘The Ox’ and Phil Coutinho is going nowhere.
And then we get smashed by Man City. Yeah, Sadio and all that. But still. It feels like a kick in the bollocks. Like instead of kicking Ederson in the head, Sadio had, well, you get the picture.
We bounce back pretty well though. We look dangerous. Properly dangerous in fact. Phil isn’t sulking now he’s back. He’s playing unbelievably. Second best player in the league kind of unbelievably.
We go away in Europe and win 0-7. No team wants to face the reds. They’ll all be shitting themselves. Gotta watch out for Salah’s pace. Bobby Firmino’s industry. Even Albie Moreno looks half decent. This is dead good this.
Then Spurs wipe the floor with us. Big time. They say fuck playing about in midfield lads. We’ll bypass that. Cut you to ribbons. Big Degsy has a mare. Same old Liverpool. Except it’s not.
We go on an unbeaten 18 game run. We score seven goals in Europe again. Sure, there’s some warning signs, Sevilla get back into a game from three goals down. We can’t beat Everton. Or West Brom. Arsenal take 0-2 and turn it into 3-2 before it eventually finishes 3-3. Both the keepers are shite.
But who gives a shit? Because out of nowhere we go and sign Van Dijk before the window has even opened. We give it big spuds. World record fee for a defender. The most un-Liverpool transfer to occur in years. Have that you bunch of dickheads.
Long unbeaten run, defence actually doing half decent for once and we still go out and buy the big Dutchman. He scores a winner on his debut. Against Everton. In the FA Cup! This season is meant to be.
We beat Burnley. Their manager (who does or doesn’t, depending on who you believe, eat worms) usually makes it really tough for us, but we don’t care. We destroy Manchester City who are walking the league too. Somebody tattoo “HOPE” on my forehead right now. I’m all in. This is even better than that bit before, that was dead good as it was.
Oh shit. I forgot about Phil again didn’t I? I said he was a wee shithouse right? I was wrong. He’s a great big shithouse. In fact, whatever is more shit than a shithouse, he’s one of them. A great big one of them. Want’s to sit out midseason. Miss important games unless he gets his move.
We capitulate. He’s gone. Hope slips. And then it slides.
We lose to Swansea. Bottom of the table Swansea. Again. But that’s not enough, so we go and lose to West Bromwich Albion in the cup too. Lost to Allan Pardew, AKA ‘Pards’ to, well, not his friends because he hasn’t got any; just like this team and winners medals. Another season without silverware.
We can’t get Naby Keita in early either, it’s very difficult to buy in the January transfer window apparently. Unless you’re Barcelona. Or Manchester United. Or Manchester City. Or Arsenal.
Daniel Sturridge goes. We look short of options up top. Outside of the starting three is a guy who hasn’t played for two years and a lad who has never scored a first team goal. Everybody else is seemingly advancing their squads. We’re not even standing still. We’re going backwards.
The window is drawing to a close. We clearly aren’t going to buy anybody. Not a peep of any activity to come. No hope for a deadline day miracle deal.
Leaving ourselves so short of attacking options seems misguided. A gamble. How are we gonna get anywhere like that? It just takes one injury to destroy our attack.
Then we beat Huddersfield. Dismantle them. But it’s not enough for me. What are we gonna do against Spurs?
First half we smash Spurs. Except we don’t. We only score one goal. We’ve been here before. They’ll come back into this. They do.
Jon Moss. Bigger you-know-what than Phil Coutinho that fella. But it’s not enough to defeat us. Mo Salah does, well, I still don’t even know what he did. Obviously I know he scored a goal. But no idea how. Magic? Must be. Human beings can’t do that stuff.
Whatever it was, we’re gonna be fine with Mo Salah in the side, the Egyptian King. And there it is. That feeling again. That little glimmer. Hope.