At one point he hit 3 in a row into the hole and was acknowledging the appreciation of the crowd when some fellow shouted, “I wish I was that lucky.” Gary stopped, smiled, looked at the fan and said, “You know, it seems that the more I practice, the luckier I get.”
Some cultures are so obsessed with luck that telephones numbers made up exclusively of a lucky digit have sold for as much as £174,027.
Liverpool and luck start with the same letter; unfortunately, in the last few years, that luck has been consistently of the bad variety. Sometimes it almost seemed that we were paying for the good ‘luck’ of winning in Istanbul, with unbelievable poor fortune in our subsequent domestic performances.
How much woodwork have we bruised in the past few years? How many injuries to key players at inopportune times at positions we lacked depth in?
How many opposition keepers have come up with career performances in the face of complete Liverpool dominance? How many bad bounces and inexplicable referee gaffes have led to critical goals which cost us well deserved points?
How many teams have had a referee allow a beach ball, in flagrant violation of the rules of football, to contribute to a crucial loss?
At the same time, Manchester United was in the diametrically opposite position: opposition keepers made inexplicable errors, balls that were nowhere near the net would carom to a surprised Manc player, and , last year, they were awarded 4 penalties (all of which they converted) while none were called against them.
But most of all Man Utd had the “aura” of being lucky. Everyone expected them to be awarded unreasonable spells of extra time when they were behind, whereas I remember games where Liverpool weren’t even given the minimum allotted by the referee. Everyone expected Man Utd to score unbelievable goals in the last ten minutes of a game they were deservedly losing. Everyone expected that no matter how badly Fergie’s team had been outplayed, they would find a miracle to take points away from losing fixtures.
Luck is one of those intangibles in sport that often separates success from failure and winning from losing. It builds like momentum and infects both the recipient and his opponent to the point were it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. Players begin to think that their wins are destiny and success is their divine right.
There is an indication that Lady Luck is casting leering glances in Liverpool’s direction and leaving Moyes and his cursed squad to pay for their successes. There have been indications this season that Liverpool is moving into a more positive mindset than they’ve shown for many years.
In recent history, players who underperformed weren’t allowed to bring the rest of the team down but were dispatched with all haste to bring in hungrier replacements. Successful players like Simon Mignolet and charismatic players like Kolo Toure brought a bit of character and stability with them. Sturridge took up where he left off last season as a natural goal scorer.
Going back to last season, Liverpool have not lost in 11 games, has only allowed 6 goals in that stretch, has a perfect record so far this year, and leads the Premiership. We have not allowed a goal and have been able to bring in players from the bench without losing a step. And we are starting to assume an “aura” that we haven’t had for years.
Of course it is early in the year. The month of September will be an interesting journey for Liverpool fans and for the team itself. How will Moses fit into a side that is starting to play winning football and meshing into a defensive powerhouse? For that matter, how will Luis Suarez’ return change the chemistry that has us playing so well without him? And will the Reds’ growing confidence build into an aura of invincibility and will Fortress Anfield regain its Camelot on the Mersey mystique?
Success breeds success and luck builds on luck (and hard work). It has been a while since I have felt this sort of optimism at the beginning of a season; an optimism that is based, not on blockbuster transfers, but on a sense of movement in the right direction and the rising feeling that this edition of the team has that undercurrent of success, hard work and skill that will morph into the luck that wins fixtures and confounds opponents and frustrates the pundits.
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