A bee is poorly designed for flight. They’re magnificent for other purposes- pollinating plants, creating honey, bumbling around peacefully- but flight isn’t top of the list. Interestingly, nobody has broached the subject with bees. They continue to fly as if it were actually possible. Nobody has told them differently.
Now take that scenario of oblivious bliss and apply it to a Liverpool supporter. Specifically, apply this oblivious nature to ME. This is because I must be the only current Liverpool fan who has never seen a match managed by a different gaffer. I know no different.
A Different Thought Process
Jurgen Klopp is all I know about top club management. He was here when I became a fan and that became the status quo. I know no different.
Managers would come and go at other clubs. Pundits would predict who would last until Boxing Day. Watching the merry-go-round of tactical football minds is practically a sub-sport of the beautiful game.
In fact, the start of the year brings about discussions of relegation. A team on the fast track to the drop often changes a manager with around half a dozen matches to go. The process seems to be timed so that the new boss can create a “bump” of points to escape the bottom three.
But truth be told, relegation isn’t something on our minds at Liverpool. We’re not thinking about defeats. We’re not thinking about changes at the helm. Our focus is on a few trophies and a battle for EPL supremacy. Aren’t we?
As far as the team is concerned, they’re a squad with a mission. They didn’t miss a beat. The first team they faced after Klopp’s announcement got a battering. They handily beat an FA Cup opponent and look ready to be a second-half juggernaut. This will all be done with the spectre of Klopp’s departure getting closer by the minute. Will it destroy us? No. Will it change the team? Minimally. Is it a good move? It is for Jurgen so we’ll just have to deal.
A Case Study In Teal
The reality is that LFC will be fine. The players will continue to play. All told, everything will be right in the world.
But will it?
How does the loss of a leader affect a team? More importantly, does the loss of a leader affect a fan base? Are supporters willing to endure some less-successful seasons under an incoming manager?
I can only compare the impending change at Liverpool to the changes at other teams I love. Perhaps you’re familiar with the NFL and the OTHER football that is played. Well, the team I root for is the Miami Dolphins. I’ve been a “Dolphan” since 1970. So, if you know the Dolphins at all, you know they had the same coach for decades.
Similar to Klopp, Don Shula was exceptionally successful. He still holds the record for most wins and is the only coach to ever lead a team to an undefeated season. When Shula moved on, some of the magic left too. The team gradually got worse. This isn’t the case with Liverpool!
Granted, Klopp says he’s burnt out and lacks the energy to lead the team to success in future seasons. That had to be difficult to realize. Coming to that conclusion had to be tougher than hearing it afterward. But the circumstances aren’t acrimonious for us.
I guess the biggest item on my mind with the changing of the guard is my EPL future. Klopp is making a clean break. Never again will he coach a team other than Liverpool in England. Maybe it’s time for this fan to move on.
Recency Is All I Know
My LFC memories began with Jurgen Klopp leading this team. I don’t know any other managers with Liverpool. The names on the Carlsberg cans are just names to me. I had no idea that Mo Salah ever played for another team or that Raheem Sterling played for US!
The historic tragedies and successes were fascinating to learn about. But I was told about them, I didn’t live them. Can I call myself a genuine Liverpool supporter if I have never known the harder times? Is my affection and affinity for this team less genuine because I’ve only been here for the operatic high notes?
It’s a hard decision. When Don Shula retired and eventually passed away, I watched my Dolphins sink to the depths of the AFC East for a decade or more. When I watch sports I want to enjoy the experience. Can that still happen?
As One Told Me
My friend Adam – he who dragged me to my first couple of Liverpool matches – explains that you can’t properly feel the highs if you don’t appreciate the lows. He’s assigned me what I like to call the “Black Cloud Collection” of LFC videos.
Losing championships by a point. Seeing other opportunities fall by the wayside because of one errant pass. The horrifying and sobering Hillsborough disaster. These all made the collection. Adam explains that it’s not solely the wins and losses that comprise a fan’s appreciation for a team. Essentially, supporters are more than fans.
According to Adam, the reason that European football is such a strong entity is because of each side’s supporters. They live and breathe their team and they do so for life. The prospect of switching clubs is unheard of. Once an alliance is formed, it’s forever.
It’s just a fact, like a bumblebee’s ability to fly. The bee hasn’t been told any different, so it continues to fly. Aeronautical studies show that bees shouldn’t be able to fly yet they still do against all that logic. In the same way, I guess I’m here for the long haul. The team and Klopp have given me so much. Perhaps I am the most fortunate because this run is all I know.
Whatever comes next, I’ll treasure what I’ve been lucky to see so far. YNWA.