As we sat in my friend’s living room on Saturday morning patiently waiting for the full Irish breakfast being cooked in the kitchen, we watched the beginning of the Cardiff City v. Liverpool match. A poor pass back from Joe Allen followed by a few nice passes from Cardiff and we were 1-0 down. I hadn’t even tasted my blood pudding yet. Within a few minutes, El Pistoleros equalized and normalcy was restored for the moment. But then as I was thoroughly enjoying my meal, I witnessed another defensive lapse as Man United reject Frazier Campbell put the home team back in front 2-1. Immediately after that goal an interesting thing happened. Even though we went down 2-1 to a clearly inferior team, there was a sense of peace and calm that came over the room. There was no panic. I simply turned to my friend and said, “It would be nice to equalize before the half, maybe a nice goal from Skrtel.” You all know what happened next and how the match ended up. I mention this for a few reasons, but certainly not to boast about my personal prognostication skills. In years past at this point in the season, Liverpool were always chasing a position that seemed out of reach. We feared the possibility of dropping points against teams we shouldn’t and we were hoping that other results would fall in our favor, all in the hopes of a seemingly unattainable goal. If we went down 2-1 at Cardiff City a few years ago, I think every Kopite would be thinking “here we go again.” Not this team though. Not this year. Maybe it’s the fact that we have the two most prolific scorers in the league and the opposition knows that no lead is safe when SAS is on the pitch. I think it’s more than that. The style of play that Brendan Rodgers has introduced is a joy to watch, and the precision passing that I see every game reminds me that Liverpool are capable of generating legitimate scoring chances at the blink of an eye. For the first time since I can remember being a Liverpool fan, I wasn’t worried about dropping points after going down a goal early.
Much has been said about this Liverpool team. It really is a remarkable turnaround that we’ve seen. Brendan Rodgers has somehow turned this team into the most feared opponent in England. You could argue that Chelsea or Manchester City have the stronger squads, but when Liverpool come to your house the supporters begin to fear their defensive psyche may get fractured beyond repair. While it’s disappointing to lose at home 1-0 to a top club like Chelsea, it’s absolutely shattering to watch Luis Suarez go on a breakaway uncontested with enough time to decide whether to let Sterling score the club’s 6th goal or just complete the personal hat trick himself. Moments like that will have your baby-faced manager storm out of the press interview. “I couldn’t care less” if the opponent is Cardiff City or Manchester City. Teams now fear the date on the calendar when Liverpool Football Club comes to town. And well they should.
I’d like to sit here and tell you that the Premiership title is ours to win. The fact remains that we technically don’t control our own destiny yet. We still need Manchester City to drop points somewhere. That’s not the point. This campaign set sail last August and we were all hoping that Rodgers could somehow steer this ship into the top four. With eight matches left to play, I’m reasonably confident that Liverpool will join Manchester City and Chelsea in the top three. But now people are talking about Liverpool as legitimate title contenders, and just maybe Rodgers can navigate us to the top. That’s not my point either. The message I am really hoping to convey is that such a remarkable turnaround happens so infrequently that it needs to be savored. Sit back and appreciate what you are witnessing from this team. Regardless of where they finish in the table, I can promise that I will be telling the next generations of fans about the great team from the 2013-14 season. I will tell the stories of sitting in the Kop for a 5-1 thrashing over Arsenal. I will talk about being only a few feet away from the team celebrating Stevie Gerrard’s penalty kick winner at Fulham. We’ll laugh about having to wait 20 minutes for the celebratory pints after dismantling Manchester United at Old Trafford 3-0. We’ll fondly remember the four uncontested goals scored against Cardiff City as I ate my homemade Irish breakfast in the living room of my friend’s home. This is a GREAT time to be a Liverpool fan. Drink it in. If you are relatively new to the club, then climb aboard our bandwagon and hang on. This train has been stuck getting repairs for a few years, but we’re back on the rails and full-steam ahead! The core of this team is young: Suarez (27), Coutinho (21), Henderson (23), Sturridge (24), Allen (24), Flanagan (21), and Sterling (19). This club should be a force for years to come and could write itself into the lore of Liverpool Football Club history. Hopefully you will remember where you were when it all happened. I know that I will.
Here is a friendly reminder that this Wednesday at 4 PM is the makeup date for our home match against Sunderland. Games-in-hand are only good if you win them, and a victory puts us only a point behind league leaders Chelsea! Due to differing daylight savings time schedules, kickoff is at 4 PM on Wednesday. Join us at the London Bridge Pub for the match and the subsequent “Happy Hour” that is sure to follow another Red’s victory!