Evertonian JIM KEOGHAN is dreading the possibility of Liverpool turning their explosive start to the season into a genuine title challenge. Here’s his guide to how to cope with it.

In a year that has seen Brexit, Trump and a rampant Tory government, it makes sense that Liverpool could also win the league. It would be the final piece in a jigsaw, one that depicts a scene where an enormous amount of shit obliterates all joy in the world.

It’s obviously early days, and if any club could cock things up it would be Liverpool, but with Klopp at the helm the possibility of meaningful success looks a worrying possibility. Depressingly, it probably has to happen at some point. We’ve got away with it for too long. Liverpool couldn’t be an underperforming shambles forever. They’ve got too much money, too many fans and too big a reputation for failure to remain their natural state.

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Of course, we’ve been here before a few seasons ago, so us Evertonians know what to expect; a slavish media salivating at the prospect of Liverpool winning the title, the instant veneration of Klopp by a fanbase who tend to deify managers with a degree of speed and devotion that even the likes of L. Ron Hubbard would regard as incautious and the prospect of Klopp becoming a near ubiquitous presence on anything football related.

How to deal with all of this then? How to be inured to what could come? What can Evertonians do to navigate Kloppageddon?

Well, we could try to counter their glee, smugness and pride by placing any possible title win in context. With the exception of the Leicester aberration, success in modern English football has always been a relatively simple equation, one best defined as:

Money + A decent manager = A likelihood of silverware.

So, of course Liverpool should be challenging for the title. Like City, United and Chelsea, they are part of a moneyed elite, blessed with an innately unfair advantage over the overwhelming majority of football clubs. Any success they enjoy is therefore expected, mundane and highly predictable; essentially nothing to shout about.

The problem with this approach is that many Liverpudlians seem to buy into the myth that their club is somehow different to the likes of City, United and Chelsea. They seem to regard Liverpool as an outsider club, and that their lack of success over the past twenty years is attributed to this status, plucky little Liverpool valiantly battling against the deep-pocketed, big boys of the Premier League. They are inured to reason, specifically the reality that Liverpool are really just another elite club and their failure has occurred not because of their relatively smaller finances but instead because they have quite simply massively underperformed.

ostrich

In the absence of reasoned discourse, another option could be the ostrich approach, to figuratively stick our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening.

The problem with this approach is that there is probably no hole big enough to escape the media love-in that would be unleashed if Liverpool won the title. Last time around, when Suarez, Gerrard and Sturridge were leading the charge, Liverpool’s coverage in the media reached a level of fawning saturation more akin to North Korea’s reporting of Kim Jong-un. And that was with a manager who was a charisma void. When you add Klopp into the mix, someone who the press adored before he even set foot in this country, you have a potent combination, one capable of obliterating any lingering sense of journalistic objectivity.

So, what’s left? Well, another approach is to question just what Liverpool FC actually are. Can a football club owned by Americans, managed by a German, staffed by players from outside the city and watched by a crowd drawn from across the globe really claim to be the same club that existed back in the 1970s and 1980s?

A good acid test for a club’s roots is to imagine the stadium being picked up and dropped somewhere else in the country. If you did this to Anfield, Old Trafford or The Emirates, I doubt the clubs involved would notice any impact on attendances or revenue. Do it to the likes of Everton, West Ham or Newcastle and it would likely be devastating.

Liverpool are a trans-national brand; mobile, slippery and rootless. The Liverpool of the 1970s and 1980s was a true rival, a local club similar to Everton in so many ways. But the Liverpool of today is barely recognisable to me. The club I knew and feared is dead. The modern Liverpool is little more than a logo. And why should I care what a logo does?

But of course, I still do. I see that logo and everything it stands for and can’t help but give a shit.

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So, the only option left, and one that I have trialled with some success is to kill with kindness. Success is often only enjoyable if others resent it. Don’t give them that pleasure. Take it away from Liverpudlians. When your red mates smugly point out their league position, respond by saying ‘that’s nice’. When article upon article is published lauding Klopp’s team, send links to your mates saying how interesting a read they are. When the moment of horror arrives and they actually lift that trophy, grit those teeth, smile your broadest grin and say ‘congratulations’. They want a rise out of us, they want to see bitter Blues, they need to feel our resentment. Don’t let it happen. Spoil their joy that little bit by publically not giving a toss.

And then go home and scream into a pillow.

Kloppageddon is coming. I can feel it. Too much bad shit has already occurred this year for a Liverpool title win not to be part of what’s happening. Prepare yourselves Blues. If you want a vision of the future, don’t imagine a boot stamping on a human face, as Orwell wrote, but instead imagine Klopp’s gigantic grin, smiling in triumph – forever.

Jim Keoghan is the author of Highs, Lows and Bakayokos; the story of Everton in the 1990s. http://www.pitchpublishing.co.uk/shop/highs-lows-and-bakayokos

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2 comments

  1. Jim makes a good argument, I like the idea of dropping Anfield anywhere in the country but that to be fair is on the back of the exposure from winning European cups in the 1980’s. Kindness is something that football fans don’t really do but as I believe Bobby Robson once said when you lose at least someone is happy or words to that effect. Klopp is hard to dislike he is the manager everyone wants like Shankly he is bigger than any player. Liverpool were driven by one player for so many years whereas now there is no Gerard, Suarez etc. In the 60’s and for a brief time in the mid-80’s there was equity reds and blues were both successful. I think all blues knew once Klopp came that things would change so let’s hope for the same on the blue side, hew owner, new manager, new ground coyb.

  2. Liverpool won’t win the title. Regardless of their very impressive form and at times scintillating forward play. Here’s why:

    They were cruising against Arsenal on the opening day yet contrived to concede three; Arsenal should have gone on to equalise; bottom line is that Wenger massively underestimated them, yet still Arsenal came within an ace of a 4.4 draw, which would have been hugely embarrassing to Liverpool. Their next game, of course, at Burnley, underlines the problem: Liverpool should have scored a hatful but for once they didn’t (days like that happen and they will happen again) and so they conceded twice. Basically if Liverpool fail to score then they will lose because they invariably always concede. The same sketch happened next at Spurs; Liverpool should have been out of sight – but the space they afforded Spurs to equalise was laughable; then Spurs almost won it. Then Liverpool dominated against Leicester at home the following week but found themselves pegged back to 2.1 at the interval; Leicester then had to go for it which of course was perfect for Liverpool to exploit the gaps – but not all sides will be as careless as Leicester were. A similar scenario unfolded at Stamford Bridge next time out: Liverpool being pulled back to 2.1 after taking a two goal lead (Chelsea, who like Arsenal had completely underestimated Liverpool – similar to how teams underestimated Leicester last season, have since reshaped themselves and it would be interesting to see how a replay of that match today would pan out); Chelsea should have made it 2.2 in any case. The next match against Hull followed a similar scenario: Liverpool raced into an imperious 3.0 lead with the Tigers actually being down to 10 men after 29mins. But even with 10 men, Hull pulled a goal back to make it 3.1 before Liverpool finally put them to the sword. The starkest example was the next game at Swansea: for the first 45 mins Liverpool were shocking (they still have that disability in their locker) and Swansea should have capitalised on that by more than the one goal they scored. Even after Klopp evidently gave Liverpool a half-time rocket and they had turned it round to lead 2.1 by the 84th minute, Swansea should then have equalised on either of two occasions, especially a glaring sitter that was missed in the last seconds. A case of Liverpool riding their luck again. The next match against Utd at Anfield was a classic example of a savvy manager for once finally not underestimating Liverpool. Mourinho paid them a massive and quite justified compliment and basically sat back for the entire game knowing he had a class keeper to deal with the two great chances that Liverpool had to work hard to create; yet for all that, Zlatan still missed a sitter. The same old scenario resurfaced in Liverpool’s next match at home to WBA: they raced into a 2 nil lead and got pegged back to 2.1. Once again WBA should have equalised. The next match at Crystal Palace was Klopp’s Liverpool in microcosm: imperious going forward, an absolute shambles at the back: the two goals Liverpool conceded were shocking. A better team would have scored at least two more against them. And then we come to the last match to date so far: Watford at home, with Liverpool utterly cruising at 5.0. This was surely the day for Liverpool to keep only their second clean sheet of the season? No. For they still contrived to allow Watford to score a corker.

    So, Liverpool have played 11 games and have dropped just seven points and have an impressive +16 goal difference (but it should be so much more). Yet they have kept just one clean sheet. That’s the mark of a team that will finish fourth, third or second. It’s not the mark of champions. They have an clear achilles heel and it will prove their undoing. Another factor is that Liverpool had to play most of the top sides straight off the bat at the start of the season. Instead of the daunting fixture list crippling them, they encountered a series of teams that stupidly assumed Liverpool would be there for the taking; Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea all arrogantly played into Liverpool’s hands. Only Manchester United, finally, treated them with the respect they deserve. There is no way that Arsenal and Chelsea (I don’t rate or rank Spurs at all) will make that mistake again. Nor should City, either home or away. If they do, then Liverpool will pick them off. But most clubs should by now have sussed Liverpool: if you play into their hands they will crucify you. Even so, Liverpool will still have too much to overcome most of the teams, but they will find that other teams, unlike the first few weeks of the season, will have cottoned on to them now and will be prepared to grind games out against them, a bit like United did. Add this to Liverpool’s unerring ability to concede and it will all ultimately mean that they will fall short in the end.

    Wait, they’re not in Europe and that will come into play post-Christmas, surely?

    True.

    But neither do Chelsea have Europe.

    Liverpool will finish – comfortably – either 2nd or 3rd. They’ll still be in a title hunt come April, and that in itself will be uncomfortable. But they will shoot themselves in the foot enough over the course of the rest of the season.

    Rest easy.

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