An article by Red Bubble for Kop That. You can follow Red Bubble on Twitter at @RedBubble1892
Success. No one is entitled to it. Not even Liverpool Football Club. Our club has a long and famous history. A history filled not only with trophies, but epic nights the supporters of most other clubs will never get to experience. Our past is certainly something to be proud of and in my opinion should be a spur and powerful motivator for current and future footballers lucky enough wear our sacred LiverbirdÂ upon their chests. Those who feel inhibited by it, and see it as a weight on their shoulders, will never have the mental capacity to succeed at Anfield regardless of how much footballing ability they possess. No one should ever forget what we have achieved or where we’ve come from, facing and overcoming tragedy along the way.
In the pre-Sky days, the size of a club was measured by their fan base and most importantly the success they’d achieved on the pitch. Trophies at the end of the season were what made you famous. Can you imagine anyone outside the participating countries knowing who was playing in the European Cup in the 60’s and 70’s? No, they simply saw the names in the record books. The winners.
We live in a different footballing world today. One where the landscape is shaped by the money clubs spend and the kudos gained from playing in the Champions League. A time of Sky Sports and their blanket coverage of football. Before the Premier League, the opinions of supporters (and I use the term loosely) we’re formed by what they saw at the match, together with the odd clip on the Match of the Day, as well as newspaper and radio reports.Â Today supporters believe what they are told. They are brainwashed by Sky and the national press. Today a big club is no longer the one with the most trophies, it’s the one with the most money.
The past 21 years have been difficult for supporters of Liverpool. Those who grew up watching us lift tittle after title have gone a generation without one and ‘generation Sky’ are convinced the Champions League is the holy grail…that is participating in it, not winning it.
Like I’ve already said, our history is something to be fiercely proud of and something we should always defend. Living in London it’s amazing how much I hear the phrase “all you talk about is history”. This, without fail, comes from supporters of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. Knowing plenty of supporters of Crystal Palace and Tottenham, it’s curious that they never seem to take issue with what a club has achieved in the past.
You may think I am now going to proceed to argue a case against the supporters of other clubs but in fact it’s our supporters I want to take issue with. The supporters who think that because of the trophies we’ve won in the past (our 18 league titles in particular) we are entitled to challenge for or, more ludicrously at the current time, win the league. The supporters who think that because we played in it for a number of years and constantly have it drummed into them by Sky and the press that non-qualification is a monumental failure, demand we finish in the top 4 at the end of the season.
I’m tired of sitting on a coach heading back to London after a game listening to the phone-ins and hearing people complain. Whether its a Kopite of 40 years or an armchair out of towner, they have one of the above reasons to gripe at Kenny and the players. We are where we are because it’s where we deserve to be based on our performances on the pitch. If the players who have arrived for huge fees and even bigger wages are up to the standards of our past is an argument for another day, as is who should be held accountable for spending large sums on players who may or may not turn out to be of the required quality.
My personal opinion is that if we win a trophy this season, no matter which it may be, it will have been a successful one even if we fail to finish in the top 4. There are only 3 domestic trophies handed out each year and when you win one your name goes in the record books, where it will remain for as long as football is played and maybe even an infinite amount of time beyond that. Granted, that may mean nothing to you or I in 100 years but what about the memory of being there the day you saw Liverpool win a trophy? I know that when I die and my life flashes before me the footballing pictures I’ll see aren’t Champions League qualifiers against Standard Liege and group games against Porto. It’ll be Robbie Fowler and Jamie Redknapp lifting the FA Cup in Cardiif. It’ll be Djibril Cisse dancing around the European Cup in Istanbul. It’ll be God and Samy Hyypia, lips pressed against either side of the UEFA Cup in Dortmund.Â These are the moments we live for as football supporters.
Hope, as we all know, is a great thing. So is expectation when it takes the form of high standards. Our club was built on the simple idea that first is first and second is nothing.Â Expectation, however, can quickly become a negative noose around the necks of players and manager when it becomes unrealistic. As much as we have achieved in the past and as much as our standards dictate our club exists to win trophies, today we only deserve to win what we are good enough to win today. No one ever won a league title because they’d previously won 18 in 119 years. If you genuinely believe our current squad of players is better than that of Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and the rest, then by all means moan as much as you want about not winning the league or making the top 4. I would suggest you have a reality check. At best, we are currently the 4th best team in the league behind the two Mancs and Tottenham. At worst, we are the 7th best behind those already mentioned and arguably Newcastle. With the players we have today, to finish 4th is the most we should expect from our league season and a couple of places lower is not necessarily failure. No one wants to see Liverpool without Champions League football but, despite what the national press and Sky say, it’s not the be all and end all. If we finish between 4th and 6th this year and win a trophy, I for one will be happy. Even if next season it means Thursday nights on Channel 5.
By Red Bubble