It would have taken a miracle of Istanbul-like standards for us to win the league on Sunday. Some people had hope, others said it was over. But everybody got behind the team. Liverpool did us proud, and I like to think that in recent weeks, we’ve done them proud as well.
Somebody recently said to me that it’s only since the title became a realistic target for Liverpool that we’ve upped our support, parading in the streets and creating incredible atmospheres in games. My response was to shrug and say ‘You’re right.’ But really, what better way to support the team? It’s not like the stadium was silent and half empty earlier in the season, but the team started to show us what they were capable of, and the excitement spread. If anything, we have given them a taste of what to expect next season if we can go all the way, and we’ve motivated them further to achieve that and experience the reception we would give them.
I can’t lie; the end of this season has taken a lot out of me. Which is a strange reaction to have to watching a few football games. But emotionally and even physically I’ve been left feeling drained. The last few years of being a Liverpool supporter offered precious few of these tense, exhilarating experiences, and so I was completely unprepared for what the end to this season had in store. My head was a mess, torn between disbelief that a team could go from seventh to first in one season, and yet watching us play and seeing the best football in the country and a team genuinely capable of finishing top.
My head was saying one thing, and my heart another. One day, I was avoiding everything to do with football, the next I was studying our fixtures, Man City’s fixtures, or Chelsea’s fixtures, working out who would drop points where, or studying the form of other teams and players and wondering who could do us a favour or who might spoil our party.
Even on Sunday, with only the slightest flicker of hope that we still could finish as league winners, I couldn’t relax. I tried to force myself to believe that the league was as good as over, and I could just enjoy our last game of the season in peace. But something inside me was screaming out that it wasn’t completely ludicrous to think that West Ham could beat Man City.
But again, another side of me also piped up, and countered it with the terrifying scenarios that could await me. After disappointing results against Chelsea and Crystal Palace, it already felt like the league had been snatched away from us once. So the thought of West Ham taking a lead at the Etihad, and us beating Newcastle, could have led to a heart breaking moment where Aguero popped up with another last minute goal to steal the title. And I don’t know if I could have handled it panning out like that. I don’t think even my imagination could get close to how gut wrenching that would have been.
As it happened, for a final day of the season where we lost the league, it probably went as well as I could have hoped. Going behind to Newcastle meant that there wasn’t a point where my mind started to develop any false hope, and Man City played through a fairly comfortable victory over West Ham. So coming from behind to beat Newcastle at least meant we went out on a high without having to endure any last minute nerves.
I let out a huge sigh the second the final whistle went. I can’t say it was a sigh of relief, as there was certainly a sense of disappointment mixed in as well. But for better or worse it was over, and my body and mind could take a break. And my genuine belief is that this Liverpool team has more room for improvement than either Man City or Chelsea do, and considering that we just finished second, only two points off top spot, I’d say we are certainly in for an exciting 2014-15 season.
Finally, I would like to offer my congratulations to Manchester City. Even in years where we aren’t involved in the title race, it can be hard to applaud the eventual winners in a league so often dominated by filthy rich teams or clubs bordering on corrupt. But Man City have had a brilliant season, led by a fantastic and professional manager and a team mostly full of players who I have a lot of respect for. In the long run, they probably were always the favourites to win the title, but the pressure didn’t get to them I hope they enjoy their victory. But Liverpool will be back next season, and mark my words, we will be even better.
By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)