Ah, love and hate. In football it's often such a fine line between the two concepts, as we discovered a few weeks ago when Trev suggested we channel our innate ability as Liverpool supporters to be "hacked-off" into ire expressed at those outside the club rather than those within it. What followed was lively discussion over players, managers, or other football personalities who we love to hate with relish, gusto, and perhaps on occasion a little too much enthusiasm.
The flip side of that coin is players, and less often managers, whom we hate to love. As supporters existing in a world where expressing positive feeling towards someone not of your faction can be seen as the ultimate in heresy, we often push down those feelings of admiration, awe, or other manifestations of enjoyment we get from members of the opposition. It can sometimes come with feelings of wrenching guilt or philosophical bargaining, but it's there just the same: that gnawing feeling that there's another player (or, heaven forbid, players) who tests your loyalty to your club on a daily basis.
For me, and I'd wager an ever increasing number of other Reds, Juan Mata often tops this list. The guilt I feel has less to do with Mata, who is a wonderful footballer deserved to be adored by all, and everything to do with the fact that he's a Chelsea player. In my short time as a football supporter, Chelsea has quickly become my bogey club, what with their buying up favourite players whose red shirts now hang lifelessly in the back of my closet, or backing their way into a Champions League title over another club I love dearly. Chelsea, I loathe you, but I love the player you seem quite content to alienate.
For a decidedly different set of reasons, I have an undying love for Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny. Koscielny is the owner of the finest reaction expressions in the entire Premier League, and his capacity to put a foot wrong when it is least helpful to him should never be underestimated. I'm sure he has many other sterling qualities that endear him to the Gooners, but for an opposition fan he ticks all the schadenfreude boxes that bring you glee. It's a mocking affection and a non-malicious joy that prevents him from ever crossing over to my very short Players I Love to Hate list.
Over on the sidelines, Andres Villas-Boas pulls regularly at the guilt strings. It's less problematic for me now that he's at Tottenham Hotspur, but his ill-fated tenure at Chelsea (and aren't they all, really?) caused much hate-to-love angst as he struggled to make changes at a club that wasn't having it. The rumours and/or wishful thinking that AVB would eventually manage at Liverpool now seem incredibly farfetched, but aside from the fact that I will always welcome a glorious ginger beard on Merseyside, AVB is a little too Eurochic for a club like Liverpool. I've come to terms with it.
And so, because you're all human and all have someone you just cannot help but adore despite your best efforts, who do you hate to love?