Plato once philosophized that the world we live in isn’t a real world but rather a reflection of the ideas, or forms, they represent. For instance, the physical chair you see is merely a reflection of the idea of what a chair is. Further expounding upon this idea, Plato asserted that there must be a realm, or existence, whereby the perfect forms of all the ideas in the physical world exist. Again, the chair you see is merely a reflection of the idea of a “perfect chair” that exists in the realm of forms. Plato posited this existed for all things and ideas in the physical world, all ideas, and concepts.
This means there exists, in Plato’s Realm of Forms, the perfect football. Beyond that, there exists the perfect idea of a football season, the perfect idea of a football fan, and the perfect idea for how a football fan should act. Though I have no idea what these forms may look like in their most perfect versions, I do know where to find the exact opposite, the least perfect versions, of all these forms of football; The Offseason.
If there were to exist a universe that had all the exact opposite traits as their counterparts in Plato’s Realm of Forms, all the absolute worst bits of offseason football would exist in that universe. All the Twitter nonsense, all the transfer speculation, all the hot-take punditry, would exist in this Real or Deformity.
My word, how I hate the offseason. Even beyond just thirsting for meaningful football, I hate the noise and the behavior that comes with it. Though I may be getting older meaning my tolerance for tomfoolery and all things emotionally draining, this particular offseason has felt worse than others. So, with the friendlies and glorified friendlies being done, and in an attempt to exorcise the traumas of this summer, here is a list of the absolute worst parts of the 2022 Offseason of Football. Like a late-night family booze fest where the collective traumas of your aunts and uncles are splayed across the room, let’s dive in.
No World Cup
One thing that often helps to alleviate some of the strain and noise of offseason football is a healthy helping of competitive football via a summer international tournament. Nothing helps the soul move on from a previous season like pouring your hopes and dreams into the shoulders of your fellow countrymen and adopted countrymen. For myself, the love for my country’s football team (and my adopter country’s football teams) falls well below my love for Liverpool. Because of this, the stakes of cheering on and following a team at an international tournament are much lower. I have fewer expectations and less of a need to find self-worth in the results of international football which means I can enjoy football a little more for what it is.
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Following the grueling run for a quadruple last season, in which the Reds played every match possible, we all needed a break. However, following 2 weeks of no meaningful football, my soul thirsted for compelling, competitive, high-level football. A World Cup this summer would have done wonders for helping to cleanse the pallet, drown out the noise, and reinvigorate the passion for the game.
It would have put a definitive bookend to the season past, almost forcing closure. It would have given something else for the twitter patrol to moan about. It would have been top football to watch without much personal consequence. Watching the USA and England (my home and adopted nations) crash out of the World Cup in only the ways they can (looking at you England) would have reminded us all “oh, that’s right. I support a boss football team that won’t let me down in a comical fashion as these lots have.”
Add in the politics behind this particular World Cup, the fact it could and should have been right down the road this summer, and that it will now cause chaos during the upcoming season, and the absence of the World Cup this summer helped to really kick up the angst that comes with offseason football.
Are you on Twitter? Do you post your opinions religiously there? Do you think that you can change the philosophy of a club from its director of football down to its manager by spewing nonsense in only 140 characters? Do you type out whole tweets and then wait for the full-time whistle to go, hoping Liverpool drops points, so you can rehash your dead take and throw a #fsgout on the end? If you answered yes to these questions then I have bad news for you; you are Twitter Guy and nobody likes you.
Now, Twitter Guy is already a scourge to planet earth during the football season, but it seems in the restlessness of the offseason that they find new ways to make themselves wholly unlikeable. Without the constant flow of new matches to moan about, in the absence of football Twitter Guy becomes hyper-fixated on one particular issue they deem egregious and then will endlessly moan about it until they’ve worked themselves into some crackpot conspiracy they’ve cooked up. Sometimes this is about transfers, sometimes this is about squad depth, however, it is always nonsense that is less helpful to my mental capacities than huffing leaded gasoline.
I know very little for certain but I do know this to be true. Never, in the history of mankind, has anything any football fan said on Twitter had any tangible effect on the thought processes of the people operating the club. John Henry isn’t leaving cause you tweeted we should spend 400 million this summer, or else #fsgout. Jurgen Klopp isn’t going to play a 3-5-2 with a floating playmaker behind a False Nine and Trequarista because it worked on your video game and you incessantly tweeted about it.
Now normally, when football is in full swing, it is very easy to ignore this nonsense and remain out of earshot of it. However, in the vacuum of the offseason, Twitter Guy’s soapbox is raised a few feet and their voice is amplified and it becomes harder to avoid picking up on some of these misguided takes and tweets. Also, following a somewhat disappointing and otherwise very good season, Twitter Guy has been even more voracious than normal.
Hot Take Pundits
On the totem pole of entirely unlikeable characters in the football world, right above the Twitter guy sits “Hot Take Pundit”. Though these individuals may appear to be qualified to talk about the game given their relative “pedigree” and experience, they tend to be as brainless as their Twitter counterparts. This of course makes them worse than “Twitter Guy” because they seemingly have all the knowledge and experiences to allow them to sift through the nonsense. However, it would appear that heading the ball does cause some type of brain injury.
These “experts” seemingly catch amnesia every offseason and completely forget any and all context for why teams finished where they did and what that means for the season ahead. For instance, despite sputtering over the line and losing most of their backline, Hot Take Pundits the world over are picking Chelsea to finish above Liverpool. This can only be explained by the presence of a brain-eating parasite that has dug itself deep inside its skulls. Remember, these are the same pundits that forgot Liverpool was playing with 7th and 8th choice centerbacks last summer and decided United would challenge ahead of us. Need I say more?
It would be one thing if the opinions of these so-called experts were properly weighted and properly judged. Unfortunately, the average football fan puts stocks in their opinions, and these pundits are given carte blanche to continually be outrageously wrong. Much like their Twitter counterparts, in the vacuum of offseason football, these pundits hit overdrive and cook up some of their most braindead predictions and ideas.
And now for some quick hitters
People Who Blame Players for Injuries
I get it. You’re bored and anxious. There isn’t anything properly to moan about. You need to complain. However, there isn’t a single professional athlete in any sport that has ever been played that WANTED to be injured. Ox is probably more upset he is hurt than you are. His injury was an unfortunate accident, not a conspiracy to wind you up.
Sign x player now” Guy
This guy usually exists on Twitter but I felt he needed his own special shout-out. This is the guy who replies to any new signing or new contract post by saying “Sign X now”. This summer it has been Jude Bellingham. Salah extend? Who cares, sign Bellingham. LFC spends a record fee on a striker. Doesn’t matter, sign Bellingham. Again, you’re influencing nobody and coming off as an ungrateful, petulant man-child.
Doomsday Prophecy Guy
Now I’ll admit, I sometimes fall into this category, although I usually take an optimistic “let’s wait and see” approach. Especially in the offseason. However, there are those who see any small issue pop up, or who buy into some Hot Take Pundit/Twitter Guy echo chamber, who are so resolute in their belief of incoming doom that there is nothing you can say or do to change their mind. We will finish 9th. We will lose all our key players to bigger clubs. We will be knocked all the way down to the conference league, and lose. I won’t be taking you seriously.
People Who Live and Die by Friendly results
These are the kids who wanted to win every PE game and would throw temper tantrums when they lost. I admire the competitive spirit and desire, but none of this actually matters. Even the friendly that awarded us a dinner plate. Even the friendly against our most hated rivals. None of it matters. Do you know how I know none of it matters? Because you probably couldn’t name all the teams we’ve played in friendlies under Klopp. Relax. We’ve got 9 months of nonstop football ahead that actually matters for you to worry your little brain about.
The good thing is that the offseason is finally done and we’re about to plunge head first into a whirlwind season unlike any other. Writing this list has been a cathartic experience that has allowed me to work through the angst and anger some of you have thrust upon me. Luckily there is a good long season before we all have to live the collective hell of the offseason again. Maybe we can all grow and learn to become better football fans. Or maybe we can become worse and provide even more fodder for my next unhinged rant. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the season ahead and dreading going through the offseason again.