Liverpool have turned opposing fans into everything they used to be
Liverpool are making history. Other clubs are just reminiscing.
For a long, fallow period, all Liverpool fans had was history. They were routinely mocked for it. Since winning their last league trophy in 1990, they have still, relatively regularly, picked up silverware; the FA Cup on three occasions, four League Cups, a UEFA Cup, two Champions Leagues. Not a bad record for a club that was seen, by some, as perennial underachievers. But they have never managed, in thirty years, to remove the albatross around their neck that is the First Division/Premier League trophy. Regardless of a poor run of results in recent times, that was always the hardest thing Jurgen Klopp could ever do with Liverpool. They're now doing it at a canter. The rest is largely irrelevant. Unless if you support another team.
Losing away to Atletico Madrid? Not the biggest deal. Being knocked out of the FA Cup, a competition that Liverpool haven't won since 2006, by the joint-most successful team in the tournament of the last 20 years? Not a big deal. Being beaten by Watford 3-0 and losing their unbeaten streak? A bit of a big deal. But only, really, to other fans. It's part of the fabric of the game; the goading, the mocking. What's the point of it though when you're delving into the archives trying to score meaningless points over relatively meaningless losses?
An accurate representation of Liverpool trying to become Invincibles: pic.twitter.com/IFtRPNN3Yi
— ♣️ (@AFCMax9) March 1, 2020
Perhaps the biggest signal of the changing of the guard in English football over the past decade (or longer) is the fact that the last few days has seen Manchester United and Arsenal fans re-emerge from the woodwork to gloat and goad their Liverpool counterparts because they can't replicate their previous successes. Ironic, considering both clubs appear even less likely of winning a trophy any time soon. But, no FA Cup means no Treble. Losing to Watford means no Invincible season. There are points to be scored. Just not the ones that matter.
Because to those fans, it's probably not relevant that Liverpool have the same number of Premier League points as Arsenal and Manchester United combined. Or the fact that one is playing their European football on a Thursday night and the other isn't at all because of Olympiakos. Elsewhere, the ball had barely been kicked off at Stamford Bridge last night when Chelsea fans were singing about Steven Gerrard's infamous slip in 2014. A season when Chelsea finished third, behind Liverpool, and won nothing. Frank Lampard's men head to Munich with a seemingly unassailable 3-0 home-leg deficit to overcome. What do these fans really have to shout about?
"Haha, you're going to win the league in April rather than March!".
Liverpool have turned their rival fans into the exact thing they used to mock Liverpool fans for. And most of them haven't realised it yet.
2019/20 Liverpool side the most overrated team of all time. Imagine comparing them to Manchester United's treble winning team or the 2008/09 Man United side. So so so overrated.
— Devils of United 🔰 (@DevilsOfUnited) March 3, 2020
It's a testament to the season that Liverpool have had that it is newsworthy when they lose a game. For them to lose three across three different competitions becomes a massive story, because in the modern media cycle, a blip becomes a crisis quicker than a fan can refresh their Twitter timeline. Managers swing from being on the brink of losing their jobs to climbing six places in the league table in the space of two games. Context is rarer than a meaningful contribution from Jesse Lingard. Considering he managed one last week, let's give some here. Liverpool have been in one FA Cup Final since their last win in 2006, and went past the fourth round for the first time in Klopp's reign this season. They are 22 points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table. They still have a good chance of progressing in the Champions League.
Even if they don't, this season will be nothing else but a ridiculous success. Not retaining their European crown will be disappointing, but hardly the end of the world either. Until Real Madrid's hat-trick between 2016 and 2018, no team in the Champions League era had ever successfully defended the title. To do so was always going to be a tall order. And, as they love nothing more than to remind their rivals, they already have six of them. The one that has so cruelly eluded them is the one they desire the most. It's also the one they will win this season.
The narrative around Liverpool in the last week is borne out of two things; their traditional rivals underperforming beyond their wildest expectations and the fact that Liverpool's rampant march to the Premier League title has left a vacuum of narratives. When Liverpool confirm the inevitable, when the Kop raise their flags and voices in long-awaited triumph, when Jordan Henderson lifts the Premier League trophy to an explosion of ticker tape, none of these results will matter. They'll make history, while their rivals just remember it. If your club's greatest achievement is on VHS, it might be time to move on from it.