Back On Their Perch – YNWA
The new English Premier League season begins tomorrow, and I am glad to say that Liverpool FC are back on their perch. After thirty painful years, the reds are looking down on everyone from the summit of the league.
First, they climbed the perch of European football by winning the Champions League, then they emerged World Champions. And when they were so close to ending thirty years of heartache, Corona Virus decided to show up on a once in a century-scale and frighten all Koppites.
Just two more wins and Liverpool would be crowned champions, yet some naysayers would rather a league that was over eighty percentage done to be called off, rather than look up to Liverpool back on that perch.
No one can argue that this team was undeserving. Until they lost to Watford in a game where no one can understand what went wrong, this team had been invincible.
They had been faultless. Winning against all odds. And when it seemed like they would finally come undone, they manage to find a way to win.
They did win in all way imaginable. Stunningly beautifully, bemoaningly ugly, lethargic, fastidious, ridiculously, and near perfectly. This team just knew exactly how to win.
And win, they did. By the time Liverpool had played against the nineteen other teams in the league, they had won everyone except Manchester United. In the most frustrating game of the season up till that point, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had set up his team to ensure they did not lose. He wasn’t there to win, he was there to not lose.
The fact that Manchester United found a way to get the first goal ensured they now had no reason to attack. They could focus on defending.
Thanks to a now-departed Adam Lallana, Liverpool found a late equalizer. Fans of Manchester United found this draw to be more valuable than a dozen other wins.
You just couldn’t hear the end of how they were the one team that Liverpool had failed to win.
When the second leg rolled around, the pressure was raised. The stakes were higher. Liverpool faithfuls were starting to believe that all the “This year is going to be our year” they had been saying was finally about to come true.
But, the fact that Jurgen Klopp had found it difficult, if not impossible, to defeat Manchester United in the league had created a shadow of doubt among these believers.
They had defeated all comers in Europe, they had easily beaten a more talented and technically better Manchester City, they were the only team that leaves Pep Guardiola scared and physically shaking. Even in front of cameras. Yet, they found it impossible to beat Manchester United.
Maybe Manchester United was their bogey team, maybe this decades-old rivalry had left Liverpool mentally defeated, maybe this rivalry had been overplayed and over respected. Maybe Jurgen Klopp was giving Manchester United more credit than they deserve. What if he played against them the way he would play against a lower-rated opposition? Would that get Liverpool the one victory that they truly desired?
19-January-2020. In the 22nd game of the Premier League season, Liverpool finally got their long-awaited pound of flesh. Thanks to a headed goal from the Virgil Van Dijk, and a Muhammed Salah late finish assisted by goalkeeper Alisson Becker, the red faithful finally found the boldness to sing what they wouldn’t dare say aloud until now:
We’re gonna win the league,
We’re gonna win the league,
And now you’re gonna believe us.
This they sang until the Covid-19 shutdown.
A one-goal win would have been good enough, but the manner of the second goal made these fans know that this nineteenth league title was inevitable. Come hell or high water. Who can remember Sir Alex Fergusson wanting Liverpool to remain knocked off their perch?
It was beautiful to watch the trophy lifted in Jordan Henderson’s trademark style. Who would have dated say five years ago that Jordan Henderson would be that captain that ends the thirty years wait and lifts the English Premier League for the first time for Liverpool?
Looking back at when suggestions were being made to trade Henderson off to Fulham, who would have guessed that one day, not only will he be the captain, but he will also have a signature way of lifting trophies?
The Number 19 never looked this fine.
Despite minimal signings, I am once again optimistic that Liverpool would once again do beautifully well. Dare I say, I look forward to them successfully defending their title.
Once again, I hope for minimal injuries, more youngsters breaking through, and having outstanding seasons.
If eventually, they do sign more players, I hope they don’t underwhelm and I hope the law of diminishing returns doesn’t set in yet for the established performers.
When it all ends, hopefully, we remain on top of that perch.
Tomorrow, we go again. This time around, for number 20. And more.