Where is Gerrard When You Need Him?

By | March 2, 2020

There are only two reasons in this world where a night owl like me might decide to voluntarily be awake at 6:30 in the morning on a weekend. The first is if I simply haven’t gone to bed yet from the night before. The second, and undoubtedly more justified reason, is to experience the mesmerizing serenade of footballing statistics and punditry emanating from the television in an irresistible British accent belonging to the world’s best ever morning football host, Rebecca Lowe. And even then, I will only get up that early if my one true love, Chelsea Football Club, who’s symbolic lion I have permanently engraved into my skin, is the team to grace the pitch with their presence that morning.

Some might consider this behavior to be slightly fanatical, getting up so early and whatnot, but becoming seriously invested in a team and ritualistically watching all of their games has been an inextinguishable flame of joy for me since I was a child. Yet, as goes the rules of being a sports fanatic, the more you love your team, the more disdain you feel for your opponent. It is a lifestyle that is founded on irrational behavior. It doesn’t always make sense to hate the teams and players that you do, but nonetheless, it makes perfect sense at the same time. This nomadic resentfulness commonly travels between clubs, often showing up for a specific match day and then hibernating until the return fixture. Of course, there are certain opponents who achieve the honor of an indefinite loathing. Teams who’s games you watch just to root against them. Exactly how these feelings of contempt are established, it can be hard to say. Perhaps they’ve proven themselves a bitter rival, or maybe its geographical, but often its bounded in some sort of irrational thought that can be difficult to explain. Being a Chelsea fan, it would make sense to possess these feelings for another London club such as Arsenal or Spurs. But as much as I love heckling an Arsenal fan, the two teams who I cannot stand are Manchester United and Liverpool.

Oh Manchester United. I can’t lie, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your downward spiral in recent seasons. It’s been a glorious seven years since you’ve won the title and I’m happy to see you continually waste your money on players more prominent on Instagram than the pitch. For seven years we traded trophies back and forth, but beating you now just doesn’t have the same gratification. Rather than taking down a giant, it feels more like defeating a mid-table team; think maybe Everton, but I guess that’s just the David Moyes effect. Now there’s Liverpool with their recent Champions League victory and charismatic German goofball. Everything has been going right for the Merseyside club this season, almost ensuring their imminent win of the illusive Premier League title. Because of this, it seems that they are all anybody is ever talking about (including the great Rebecca Lowe). People who I never knew to closely follow the EPL before have suddenly become Salah’s biggest fans. And every weekend, as the Liverpool bandwagon grows, my desire for them to dramatically lose multiplies tenfold.

I didn’t used to feel this way about Liverpool, though. In fact, I used to root for them in games which I was a neutral. So I find myself asking, what happened? Is there a rational reasoning as to why I’ve come to have something in common with a Manchester United fan (hating Liverpool), or is this resentment an unexplainable culmination of subconscious emotions? It can’t be that I simply dislike them because they are the best. For one, they aren’t the best (I could never admit to that). Second, I never felt this way about a debatably much easier to dislike Manchester City team. So if I can’t hate a team who essentially bought four English titles, this issue must run deeper than the surface.

I remember the days when Liverpool were a club with rich history, fun players to watch, and the occasional run at a title that typically resulted in runners up medals (with the exception of Istanbul, 2005). I used to admire their strikers and try to emulate Fernando Torres in my own youth games. And the legend of Robbie Fowler’s infamous goal celebration was coveted as one of the greatest of all time by my friends and I. Even Luis Suarez was fun to play with in FIFA, although I could never figure out which buttons would make him bite the defender. So why is Mo Salah now public enemy number one? From what I know, he’s a nice enough guy. Is it because he used to play for Chelsea? I’ll admit, I wish Jose Mourinho had never let him go. We could use someone who is selfish with the ball and excels at scoring only on small teams. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be and Salah heads a distinguished group of extremely successful ex-Chelsea players.

Maybe the resentment has come from a culmination of “unfair” refereeing decisions I’ve witnessed fall in their favor. It wasn’t long ago when a lively Wolverhampton side threatened Klopp’s impressive unbeaten run. Ending in a 1-0 victory for the reds, the match highlights consisted of a Wolves goal disallowed by VAR for being offside by a shoestring, and a Liverpool goal where VAR reviewed and dismissed an obvious handball in the buildup play by VVD. If that wasn’t the clearest example of injustice in football since the Chelsea vs Barcelona semi-final in 2009, I don’t know what is. Maybe these feelings even stem from Liverpool’s childish pride in having won the recent club world cup. A trophy Paul Scholes said he’d rather win his local badminton competition over, alluding to the silliness of Liverpool’s excitement.

But still, is this enough to justify my harsh attitude towards LiVARpool? Probably not, but it doesn’t have too, this is football. I could as easily say I don’t like them because they wear red (Although this would be consistent with Man U colors). But how I see it, it isn’t a bad thing at all to dislike other clubs. A superhero story is only ever as good as the villain. And in this case, Liverpool is a pretty dang good villain. One of the most emotional moments of the season for me thus far was watching Watford’s skipper, Troy Deeney, hammer shut the third and final nail to the coffin containing Liverpool’s dreams of becoming invincibles. The excitement I felt at that moment dwarfed the emotions I felt watching Chelsea’s game just an hour earlier. To me, this is an important part of the beautiful game. So, whether it’s rational or not, for the love of the sport, I’m going to keep up the banter and continue to root for Liverpool to lose.

With that said, here’s to many more Liverpool losses and championship shortcomings! If only they still had Steven Gerrard. That guy really knew how to “slip” up and throw away a league title.

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