The Big Red Machine’s No. 19
Monkey off the back.
The drought has ended.
Godot is finally here.
Take every phrase in existence that pertains to Liverpool’s 30 year wait for a Premier League title, sprinkle some cinnamon, top with some marshmallows, and serve it up! You still will not be able to cover the wide range of emotions that this Premier League title has stirred in supporters of Liverpool FC.
Joy, nostalgia, relief, vindication, and every other feeling under the sun: you name it, us Reds got it. These are feelings that are at their most potent only because of the mental and emotional energy many of us used to defend our favorite football club for the last couple of decades.
You did it, Mr. Kopite! You saw this journey through to the end. A long, painful, agonizing journey littered with F-bombs, beers, whiskey shots, defensive blunders, slips, misses and officiating screw-ups that had you reaching for the Pepto-Bismol and Xanax repeatedly. You deserve a hangover, a vacation, a feast, a promotion, and a hug. Take it all!!
We must spare some precious moments to think of all the players and managers that came and went in the last 30 years. These men took disappointment in stride, kept striving to take the club up that hill and never took their opportunity for granted. The desire to win for Liverpool drove them and brought out the best in them and kept the flame at its brightest.
We shall start with the always cheerful Roy Evans. All that effort to reverse the club’s downward spiral under Graeme Souness. The only silverware he had to show for it was the League Cup, but it does not take away from the fact that we had the joy of watching Robbie Fowler, Jamie Redknapp and Steve McManaman because of Evans’ commitment to young talent. His love for the club has not dimmed to this day and he deserves to be remembered during this heavenly time.
Let us remember the dedication and work ethic of Gerard Houllier. The gaffer who dragged the club, kicking and screaming, into the high-speed, high work-rate modern era of English football. He loved the club and had a history with the city long before he was appointed at Anfield. He instilled a steel and focus into the club that resulted in the UEFA-League-FA Cup treble. Champions League football returned to Anfield on his watch, and for that we will always be grateful.
We will never forget the passion of Rafa Benitez. The man at the helm when “The Miracle of Istanbul” unfolded. His parade of players who brought an era of Latin flair to Anfield in the form of Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres, Alvaro Arbeloa and Javier Mascherano gave us some wonderful memories. His schoolboy scuffles with Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho and his infamous “facts” press conference still give us the chuckles when we remember them. He threw tantrums, had brain fades, and kept demanding more money be spent. But yet, we loved him because he was so competitive and loyal to the club.
We bring back memories of the innocence of Brendan Rodgers. He stumbled on lightning in a bottle with that magical Suarez-Sturridge season. He brought out the best in youth like Raheem Sterling and near busts like Phillippe Coutinho. The Reds were flying again and nearly pulled off a surprise title, if not for heartbreak at the end of the season. He gave his all and never took a backward step, and he came so close to ending years of pain for Liverpool. The road to immortality requires the ability to rise up from disappointment, which he was unable to overcome. A good manager and a good person, and no Kopite would begrudge his current success at Leicester City.
Let us remember Luis Garcia. He drank Sangria. But more importantly, he scored the Champions League goal that still makes Jose Mourinho’s blood boil to this very day. That is the goal that got us to Istanbul and kept our flame alive during the 30-year wait. He still takes pride in his bond with the club and its fans.
We reminisce about the tireless Jamie Carragher. The Scouser Felix to Gary Neville’s Manc Oscar. Always rose way above his talent and took on the mantle of defensive leader for the Reds. He was never afraid to get in the face of so-called “stars” who arrived at the club expecting to be treated like kings instantly. He expected one and all to treat the chance to play for Liverpool as a privilege and not a right. He was Stevie’s brother-in-arms and the one who always demanded efforts from others to match his own.
We remain grateful for Xabi Alonso. We could ask him to try and score a belter all the way from Toxteth and it would still find the net at Anfield. He played with an unbridled joy and Liverpool fans were heartbroken when he left and took his magic to Santiago Bernabeu and the Madrid faithful. Xabigol was the ultimate catalyst for our attack. Liverpool was the with club famous for midfield, long range scoring threats like himself, Stevie and John Arne Riise. Set piece goals made a triumphant return to Anfield with Xabigol. His infectious smile and lasting friendship with Stevie ensured that he will always receive a hero’s welcome from the Kop.
Never forget the 96 of Hillsborough. This title has many of us remembering those lives and the disrespect and speculation mounted on their names by the toilet rag known as “The S*n” and the South Yorkshire police. The deceased could not defend themselves as their names were dragged through the mud by a newspaper that wanted to sell subscriptions and a law enforcement body that wanted to cover up its own negligence and callousness. This title may bring joy to the family of the 96, but may it also give them the resolve to continue fighting for justice and the truth.
Many of them are doubtless raising a toast in memory of their loved ones who did not return that fateful day. We hope that this happy moment brings their struggle back under the spotlight and finally brings them the accountability they have demanded for so long.
Let us remember the Liverpool supporters all around the globe. People, young and old, from the United States to the Far East to the Middle East to India to Australia to New Zealand all adopted Liverpool FC as their club at a time when the Premier League exploded with Arsenal, United and Chelsea games. At a time when the club was starved of success, it still spoke to millions around the world who fell in love with it and experienced its highs and lows.
These are the fans, from the corporate stiffs in New York and Texas to the schoolboys in Thailand and Malaysia to the businessmen in Dubai and New Delhi, who bought into the club’s authenticity and vision. These are the fans who would go online and spend their hard earned money on jerseys, scarves, bumper stickers and flags. These are the fans who kept our right to call ourselves a Big Club intact. They ensured that we did not go the way of Nottingham Forest or Leeds United.
Let us remember the people of Liverpool. They made this town a tourist’s delight with their friendly and generous natures. They always stepped up to bat to rescue a visiting fan who might have been swindled into buying a fake game ticket. They always appreciated the fans who traveled great distances to watch their beloved club.
This includes yours truly who, at the age of 42, was able to finally experience a Champions League night at Anfield, and I maintain that the city of Liverpool is the friendliest, most welcoming city I have ever visited in the western world.
The Crucial Moments
Let us remember the moment that FSG (Fenway Sports Group), comprising of John Henry and Tom Werner, bought the club and brought it back from the brink of administration. This could have been the ultimate humiliation for one of the most storied clubs in Europe. But they rescued the institution and kept it relevant.
The road back to the top was never easy, but they invested well, hired smart and stayed patient and loyal to their vision. The owners who broke the curse of the Bambino and the 86-year wait for the Boston Red Sox, have now ended our 30-year drought.
Let us remember the moment that Jurgen Norbert Klopp came to Anfield. He is the most inspiring and intelligent hire that the club could have made. I had always feared that the pressure of winning at Liverpool would extinguish this man’s inherent love for the game and its players. But it turned out to be a match made in heaven.
He was – and still is – the ideal manager for our club. His goofy laugh, his warm hugs, his sparkling teeth, and his passion on the sidelines just brought the best out of the players and the fans.
His steadfastness and belief in certain players and their fit into his playing philosophy mattered more than reputations or jersey sales. He brought a brand of football to England that will define the league for years.
The Current Squad
Let us remember the current squad of players who wear the shirt and play for the club with the pride and happiness that you would normally find only among schoolboys. Salah, Mane, Firmino, VVD, Hendo, Fab, Alisson, Gomez, Trent, Gini – The joy they bring to the pitch is so pure and so magical.
The build up to goals, the successful tackles, the anticipation in defense – all these need to be enjoyed by us because we now dine on steak and not ramen noodles.
They are the best football team in the land – YES THEY ARE!!