No, there isn’t a ‘not’ missing from that title. For the past few weeks, I’ve been telling myself all the same things that the manager and players of LFC have been saying: let’s just focus on ourselves, take things one game at a time, and keep our feet on the ground. All highly reasonable statements at a time that we are challenging for our first league title in 24 years.
But maybe that kind of rational thinking can just be reserved for the players and staff at Liverpool. Following our win over Manchester City, we have probably made ourselves the favourites to finish as champions. But recent history dictates that we have to be extremely cautious in admitting this ourselves because, as a side without league success in so long, if we proclaim ourselves as favourites but then fail to win it, we will be labelled as the side that got overconfident and our arrogance lost us the title.
So as Steven Gerrard emphasised that next week’s trip to Norwich is just as important as yesterday’s game, and that he’ll let all the pundits do the talking as to who will finish where, I found myself nodding along in agreement with the captain. But all the while I was thinking that, as a fan, why shouldn’t I get carried away?
The atmosphere at Anfield against Man City was electric. As it was against Sunderland and Tottenham before that. But would we have seen such immense backing from the crowd if we were just scrapping it out in mid-table, as we were this time last year? Doubtful, but that isn’t a criticism, just evidence that the supporters know exactly what situation we are in, and that we are absolutely loving it.
How often in recent years have we been cheering on our team while they are leading the race in the title challenge? The fact that we were massive underdogs and simply aiming for a top four finish just makes it even sweeter. But while the players need to keep their composure and professionalism, we fans have every right to feed off the excitement that our title dreams provide.
We shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so either. If anything, the players are seeing how much this means to us, and will become even more eager to provide us with the reality. Not to say they don’t want it just as much as we do, if not more, but if their efforts on the pitch aren’t quite doing it, our desperation to see them succeed could just add that one or two percent needed to pull through.
I’ll take my hat off to any Liverpool supporter who has heard that inspirational Champions League anthem over the last couple of weeks and not dared to dream of next season, when it looks like we will once again be featuring amongst Europe’s elite. Even though we are yet to mathematically secure our spot, or may drop to a fourth place finish which would see us having to navigate a qualifying round.
It’s not about expectations, only about enjoyment. The disappointment if we don’t win the league will be there, but it will be minimal, as no matter what happens now we have had a season to be proud of. So let the players do their talking on the pitch, let the coaches ensure everyone is properly prepared, and let the manager make sure everyone keeps calm. But as a fan, I’m letting myself get carried away and I’m dreaming of what this Liverpool team can achieve. And I’m loving every minute of it.
By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)