Saturday, 1 May 2010
Slowly but surely, one by one, Liverpool's pre-season goals have whittled down from Premier League contenders, to Europa League hopefuls. Back in August, the now annual tradition of unfounded optimism was taking over the rational mind of the average Liverpool supporter, and had harboured beliefs of finally clinching the Premier League title. Which, in doing so would reinstate Liverpool's much talked about history, as the present day record holders of being England's most successful club.
Unfortunately, from the almost beginning of the season, aspirations of the Premier League title had pretty much evaporated before Christmas. Up next, the FA Cup. A worthy prize for any club, no matter what the targets are at the start of the season. Struggling Championship side Reading, in typical FA Cup fashion, performed the unlikely miracle of overturning Liverpool at Anfield following a goal at the death, then pursued to kick Liverpool when they were down in extra time. Next to fall, ahhh the Champions League. When ever a season is heading south, you can rely on the trusty old European Cup. So kind in recent years, so fruitful. How could it desert Liverpool after such romance??
But all was not lost. With Champions League failure, came the scant consolation of the Europa League. Which at first, being the arrogant supporter of an elite club that I am, I had about as much interest, or was filled with about the same level of excitment as I would, if I were watching qualifying stages of the Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, qualifying, not even the Eurovision main event where you hear the awful offerings of European music, coupled with outrageus voting. But as Liverpool made their laboured progression, and with the growing sense that an all English final with Fulham might be on the cards, I was warming to the consolation of the Europa League. Who cares about the Champions League, thats main stream bollocks, this is the cool alternative, played by places so excotic you can baely prounce them, let aon cite the country of origin. Besides, there was an opportunity to be the only English club to claim any European silverware.
After Yossi Benayoun scored in extra time, it looked as though Liverpool was again creating one of those famous atmospheric European nights. That was, until, the Kop and my warmth was thoroughly extinguished by a little known strager by the name of Deigo Forlan. So impetent in his days as Manchester United player, back to haunt those who had mocked him.
With a litany of disappointments consolidated in to one season, you could not blame even the most hardened, die-hard Liverpool fan from flirting with the idea of jumping in front of a bus. Either that, or have season 2009-10 surgically erased from memory. But, with any goals in life, when they seem to pass by or become unattainable, the posts need to be moved, or new, more realistic goals have to be set.
The only goal I can see Liverpool now aiming for, is preventing Manchester United from winning a 19th title and thus denying them from superseding Liverpool in league titles. With Sundays game against Chelsea, Liverpool find themselves with the uncomfortable potion of on one hand beating Chelsea, as normally an sane supporter would want, but in doing so doing United a huge favour, or losing and putting Chelsea on the road to Premier League glory.
In all honesty, I hope we beat Chelsea, despite what the reprecutions might be. And, I am sure non of the Liverpool players are thinking about throwing the game, unless they have some dodgy wagers on it. This would be one goal to low to aim for. However, given the lack of attacking options due to injury, the grueliing 120 minutes against Athletico and the subsequent confidence crushing defeat, I think Chelsea will be prove to strong on the day, and will reign supreme at Anfield. Which, I am sure will que conspiracies being dreamt up by United supporters immediaelty.
What ever the result on Sunday, and who ever the eventual Champions prove to be, for Liverpool the close season will be an intersting one. In times of desperation, its understandable to search for a scapegoat, and HIcks' leatherly pug face is an obvious target, however, I can not condede that this is the sole reason for Liverpool misfortunes.
Questions will remain over the ownership, as Hicks tries to portrait the illusion that Liverpool have only now been put up for sale, when in truth, he and Gillette have been trying to offload the club pretty much since they set foot inside Anfield. Benitez will have to learn the lesson the hard way that there are no "guarantees" in football, while also being wooed by the overtures of Juventus. And, lastly players will have to decide on their futures and how committed they are to a Liverpool side that is not in the Champions league. Potentially, this could be one of those moments, where a club is galvanized and comes out stronger from its ordeals. If not, I will be looking for the nearest bus stop.