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Loving Liverpool and Lucas

Happiness, that rarest of treats, must be consumed voraciously when it presents itself. Liverpool's Lucas Leiva is in the middle of a veritable banquet.

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Patiently, Lucas continued to teach Stevie how to clap...
Patiently, Lucas continued to teach Stevie how to clap...
Michael Dodge

Dóchas. The Gaelic for hope. This resonant word from my native tongue has been constantly in my mind of late. There is always hope. Sometimes it's possible to defiantly seize happiness even in the midst a maelstrom. No matter how trying or even hellish one's daily existence may be, there can still be beautiful beacons of shining joy which help assuage the grim mundanity one endures; moments whose memories will offer solace in the more difficult days ahead.

An act of friendly generosity, an unforgettably intense connection with a lover or, say, the joyous abandon of watching your cherished team win convincingly as you lustily sing your approval from a famous old terrace filled by like-minded souls -- such beauteous occasions are treasures indeed. This weekend, whilst your scribbler navigates the most choppy of life's seas, he was blessed enough to revel in one such oasis of pleasure, as Liverpool convincingly beat a fancied West Brom side and strung together two decent halves of football for the first time this season.

Standing, as opposed to sitting, on the comparatively boisterous 304 block of the Kop, I was heartened that the songs came steadily and the cheerful exhortations were plentiful, as Brendan Rodgers' charges dismantled a very capable team and did so with a forceful and continuous intensity that we have not seen to this point. It is not always thus. On different days, as Liverpool sit deep and invite teams on, the atmosphere is fraught and at least one player is singled-out as the day's human pinata. Lucas Leiva has, in the past, often been that player. Nowadays, he is a leader, a focal point, and on the basis of Saturday's imperious display, a bloody hero.

I have been moved to almost murderous rage by the wilful refusal of some Liverpool supporters to acknowledge the positivity that has been on display in recent months. Please do not misunderstand me, gentle reader. I am not blind and, as a man who witnessed the best of days, I am not unaware of the relative lowliness of our modern status, but please, do like the man from the 80s game-show asked and say what you see. Realism is not delusional optimism. Lucas Leiva is a case in point. Yes, he has been slow to regain the level of his pre-injury performances, but there has been notable progress and on Saturday that improvement was stunning.

The Brazilian sat at the point of an inverted midfield triangle, behind the more offensively threatening duo of Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard, and proved to be the fulcrum of the team. His distribution was swift and efficient, his tackling crisp, his harrying effective and his example inspirational. Lucas barely stopped talking for the entirety of the match -- urging, cajoling, gently berating his team-mates and constantly reminding the badly struggling referee that he should really listen to him!

Yet the naysayers still bleat. "He's not Lib'pool class, him," said one benighted soul behind me as I sat too long in my seat, unwilling to accept the game, the respite from dreary routine, was over. Such belligerently negative types are an irritant to me, for I can assure them, the delight of Saturday's win is distilled into pure nectar when placed in opposition to genuine problems.

Leiva himself is experiencing a remarkable period of happiness and good fortune as he celebrated a recall to the Brazilian national squad, became a father for the second time and returned to the Liverpool line-up, following suspension, in time to play a central role in a resounding victory, and all of this within a fortnight. Heady days, indeed. It is good to hear the new defiance in the Brazilian's tone. Always unfailingly polite, he has not previously bitten back at those who malign him unjustly. Now, however, there is an unambiguously confident quality to the way in which he expresses his opinion about his role in the team.

"I've been reading a lot about me and when I will be back at my best, but I think my season has been good so far, to be honest," insisted the midfield metronome. "There's been a change in the system and I've changed my role a bit. People sometimes don't see it but I know I am an important player for the team. I'm old enough to know that my position is more important for the team than for people outside who see the game.

"I'm just happy," he says. "It's probably been the best two weeks of my life. I played for Brazil after two years and became a dad again and now I've won for Liverpool and received another call-up for Brazil. So I hope this will continue to the end of the season and I can achieve great things with Liverpool and finish it by going to the World Cup."

Hope. He hopes. I hope. We hope. Lucas Leiva and Liverpool are bringing us joy. We should not be gloomily churlish, but rather open to the possibility of happiness. There is ample time to wallow in negativity when it has flooded through the barriers we have erected. Rather, we should open our eyes wide and flood them instead with what is good. These are the days that will shine in our mind's eye.

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