BEING a fan of Liverpool FC is a full-time occupation.
It’s there when you get up in the morning and switch on Twitter and it’s still there when you go to bed at night and lie awake agonising over the most recent defeat, the ongoing transfer sagas or simply trying to quantify your hatred for Alex Ferguson and everything he stands for.
Simply put, the emotions involved with being a Liverpool fan cannot be switched off.
Over the last 20 odd years since the formation of the Premier League, being a Liverpool fan has had its fair share of peaks and troughs. The agony of not having won a league title since 89/90 interspersed with moments of ecstasy gleaned from several successes in the domestic cups, a UEFA cup, a cup treble and, of course, the glory of a fifth European Cup success in Istanbul 2005.
During this time period the Reds have, for the most part, kept up with the pace-setters (usually Manchester United) at least to a degree and, during Rafa Benitez’s time in charge, had firmly established themselves as a mainstay of “the big four”. However, over recent seasons Liverpool have slipped out of this fabled category of teams and have found themselves becoming accustomed to finishing in the bottom half of the top ten.
This journey south has come at a cost, as Liverpool’s once united fanbase has gradually begun to split and turn inwards on itself, with sections of disgruntled fans venting their anger on those who have been more positive about the situation at Anfield, particularly this season.
This is to be expected, I suppose, as it is in times of hardship where loyalties are truly tested, and God knows, times have been tough at Anfield in the recent past. A League Cup trophy and a run to the FA Cup final couldn’t paper over the ever increasing cracks in the Reds’ last league campaign under Kenny Dalglish and, after a poor start in the league, the knives have already been drawn on Brendan Rodgers in some quarters.
Granted, the season hasn’t been wonderful, not by any stretch of the imagination. There has been inconsistency, both as a unit and individually. We have lost twice against United, results that matter massively to the fans, and we’ve not yet managed to achieve victories against any of the teams above us in the league – a stat which has caused a mild panic amongst some. However, on the whole, the consensus is that Liverpool are slowly on the rise again and last week’s result proves it.
It has been a good week to be a Red, of that there is no doubt. The performance and result against Norwich has played a significant role in lifting the mood amongst the fans, however it isn’t the only factor. 5-0 is a cracking result, no matter what the opposition. Norwich were poor, granted, but the ferocity with which Brendan Rodgers’s side dispatched them was a sight seen all too rarely at Anfield in recent times.
The result against Norwich looks impressive in isolation, however when taken as part of a sequence of the last few results at Anfield, you can immediately see that it was part of a pleasing trend. Going back to the November 17th, The Reds have won five out of six league games at Anfield, scoring seventeen and conceding just three; while the last three home games have seen Liverpool score twelve without reply as the “lesser teams” have been dismantled.
The performances of Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing, as well as Lucas Leiva, against the Canaries provided me with further reasons to be cheerful. I recently wrote an article (published on this site) praising Rodgers for his man management in regards to Henderson and Downing. Needless to say, I was verbally battered by the more pessimistic sections within the fanbase; however both put in top performances again, both highly involved in the game and both making key contributions with either goals or assists.
This is great to see because it is almost like having two new players, given the extent to which both looked to be on their way out of the club. Now Stewart Downing looks a player who has something to offer when called upon and Jordan Henderson appears to have a bright future at the club.
Lucas had a fantastic match. The Brazilian has struggled for form, quite understandably, since coming back from a long injury lay off, however on Saturday he looked almost back to his imperious best, reading the game like a book, snuffing out attacks at source and setting us on our way on numerous occasion. Having Lucas back to full fitness and effectiveness is vital if we’re to climb the league. When he’s on top of his game, you’d be hard pushed to find a better holding midfielder anywhere in the world.
There’s been much talk of Daniel Sturridge since his arrival at Anfield, particularly in regard to his three goals in three matches, and why not? Sturridge’s goal against Norwich was another reason to be happy this week as he once again proved, with the most simple of finishes, that he’s exactly the kind of striker the Reds have been missing. His goals, however, are not the only cause for optimism.
Sturridge has already displayed in his short time at the club, that he has a fantastic almost telepathic understanding with Luis Suarez. His dummy for the second goal was sublime and highlighted the burgeoning relationship between two players who read the game at a higher level than most. Sturridge and Suarez both have quick minds, quick feet and great movement, add Fabio Borini into the mix and, all of a sudden, our front line for the latter part of the season looks much stronger.
So to round off, things are starting to look up and so can we as fans – up the table that is. The Reds have won eight of the last eleven in all competitions, three in a row at home, have equalled the Anfield win tally from last season already, are the fifth highest scorers in the league, have the fifth best goal difference in the division (both joint with Tottenham) and are steadily climbing the table.
Daniel Sturridge has been successfully added to the squad, Joe Cole has gone and the club are negotiating hard to bring in Coutinho from Inter Milan – an extremely exciting prospect and a deal which I fully hope becomes reality. Truly, this has been a good week to be a Red.