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.
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.
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.
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