Thanks to Danny McKay – @Dannymc951 – for this GUEST PIECE:
No-one likes us, but do we care? The apparent revelling in our current unpopularity is a growing trend amongst Reds. I’ve seen it across social media, heard it at matches, had mates utter such sentiments with pride. And although I understand it as a response, it is nevertheless one that worries me.
As somebody who left Liverpool several years ago and who subsequently has journeyed around the country, first with university and later with work, I have some experience with regard to not just how we are viewed elsewhere but also how that view might have changed in recent years.
Although there have always been those who disliked us a fanbase, views often informed in the past by jealousy at our success and outright hostility to Scousers in general (the latter something that Evertonians have also experienced), there is little doubt that their numbers have swelled in recent years.
In the past, for every one fan you might encounter that didn’t like Liverpool, you would meet a handful more who respected the club and the fans. The number of the latter are now seriously thin on the ground. And so, the question inevitably rises, why?
Although jealousy can’t be discounted, we are after all doing what most other clubs can only dream of, I don’t think that it accounts for everything. In fact, I’m pretty sure that we ourselves are part of the problem.
I recently asked a Spurs fan that I had known for years what is it that so irritated him about our fans. We were arrogant he said, self-important and self-entitled. And, perhaps worse than any of the above, we also, as a fanbase, lacked a sense of humour.
Although I managed to present a case for the defence, I was aware while doing so that in some of the accusations levelled, he wasn’t too far off the mark.
When you look at the social media output of our fan sites, a lot of the above is apparent. As fans, we do exhibit self-entitlement at times, self-importance and arrogance. On a weekly basis I lose track of how many occasions I read statements telling me how much better our players are, our club is, our atmosphere is etc etc.
It’s like a never-ending, Trump-esque cavalcade of boasts rattling around a bubble of our own making.
Objectively speaking, you would look at that and not find it too hard to work out why we are so difficult to root for. Imagine the plot of a film or a book where a character exhibited characteristics such as those above. In it, would he or she be the hero or would they be a character heading for a fall?
And, most damningly, there’s not a lot of humour around either. There’s a lot of a laughing at other people’s expense. There’s cruel mocking humour, playground bullying sort of stuff. But where is the self-deprecating humour, the sense of our own fallibilities, the laughing at our own shortcomings.
Say what you want about the Blueshite across the park, but in wringing laughs from the club’s manifold failings, they are second to none. In short, they’re funny.
Of course, Liverpool fans are not alone in being like this. In part, it is the inevitable result of being a big club, one for whom the prospect of winning things each season is a reality. It’s easy to be humble when you don’t win anything. It’s easy to have a laugh when you constantly fuck up. It’s not that much of a challenge to have context and perspective when there’s nothing to fight for.
But rather than revelling in others dislike of us, maybe we should take a moment to not just consider if they have a point but also to think about the consequences.
The club is always in the process of recruiting fans. In part, what happens on the pitch will dictate how successful this is. Inevitably, if you’re a big club that wins games, the fans are going to follow. But equally important is the brand, what people are buying into. Liverpool, with its heritage and roots in an ordinary working-class community have always had an appeal to outsiders, providing them with a sense that they are buying into something ‘authentic’.
But will that still be the case if we continue to act like the biggest prick in the room, boasting relentlessly, telling everyone how fucking brilliant we are, laughing at every bit of footballing misfortune we see?
And if it does attract people, what kind of people will they be? Do we want the kind of fans who buy into that brand? Think back to the people you knew at school who acted like complete knobheads. Were they the kind of people you ever wanted to hang out with? The answer is probably no.
Personally, it upsets me that other fans don’t like us. I don’t want us to be the ‘Unbearable Reds’. It has to be possible to follow a big club and not fall into the behavioural mistakes that other fans do.
As supporters we want more than anything to win more titles and knock United of their fucking perch. But let’s not, in the process, end up becoming like their fans. They spent decades revelling in their own unpopularity, hoovering up an array of prickish followers in the process. I don’t want that to happen to us.
So, let’s try and show a bit of humility, turn away from hubris, have a laugh at ourselves. Let’s try and become the Bearable Reds instead.