It is time to accept that a few seasons of sustained success merit inane gloating instead of an isolated dream season in a period of utter mediocrity. A few more league defeats this year will leave Liverpool as little more than a cipher in the race for the top four, let alone the title race. Some will claim that Liverpool have dropped a level from last season's impressive form in the Premier League, others will smile in the direction of recent history that suggests Liverpool may be reverting back to what this club has mostly done this decade: be average.
Stop prattling about Liverpool's illustrious history. It matters to have built up the name of the club and give gravitas when discussing achievements. However, it doesn't get you Alexis Sánchez, Diego Costa, Marco Reus, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Money? Don't be silly. Liverpool have two central defenders at £18 million and £20 million respectively. Regular Champions League football and winning big titles in the last few years matters. That's what teenagers and twenty-something footballers will remember, want to listen to, and will consider. Liverpool Football Club should be expected to have the other sensible elements in place such as patience and a decent youth system. The titles and regular participation in what is probably the best competition in football brings the arrogance, that confidence, and knowledge that This Is Anfield. It's what Liverpool used to have and even the step down from that is now what Liverpool used to have.
Remember? No, not the titles. The regular Champions League participation and good cup runs. Remember that? Liverpool used to have that but pine for the second row now. That second row provides comfort and respect, do not be fooled by its status. Liverpool are too good for that according to those who know what this club is really about. Liverpool are too good for something that it hasn't achieved of late and are struggling to do so right now. That makes a lot of sense around here. Liverpool are far superior to something that can actually bring the club forward seriously over the next decade but curiously cannot quite manage that. Interesting.
This could explain the self-immolation and unbridled grief in the fanbase. We were back you see. We really were. Fuck getting back into the Champions League. We're Liverpool. We are fucking Liverpool and we're going to do it! We'll win the league and end the drought. Stevie will finally get his title and be the one to captain our side in doing so. Brendan Rodgers is the new Shanks and he's barely forty-years-old! We have the best attack in the league and we're scorching everyone. It's madness! We're conceding so many goals, something that might probably hurt us in the long run, but we're still winning. We just don't care!
This was it. To return to prominence in this manner was majestic, and Liverpool's feats seemed comparable to the labours of Herakles himself. We were of this realm but beyond it. Mount Olympus was our target and books would be written about that season. It was our 1987/88 combined with 2004/2005 only because it was so long. We didn't know when and how it would come about. That's enough reason to shout and shout we did, which was fine and understandable of course. Apologies for interrupting the memories of a happier time but perhaps a pause would be apt.
There was a problem, you see. The true spirit of despair and emotional sobriety revealed this abandoned, tarnished wisdom when broken souls gather their shattered dreams from bedroom floors. The hubris. The unalloyed hubris of many a Liverpool fan, and how we all took a sip of this inadvisable potion. We laughed at the failings of others as all fans do, but we neglected the lessons of history. Sustained success is not made from magical seasons and tales woven for children to hold hope closest at dusk. Understand that what Liverpool fans desired was respect as supporters of a club of true relevance. Yet such a state is forged through ruthlessness, an eminently sensible and wise club strategy, plenty of gold, and a steel not witnessed on Anfield's territory for many a year.
We are not just mourning poor form, we are mourning the flickers of regeneration we believed we had witnessed months before in this same calendar year. The star has gone and the star has faded. Look upon the sun, provider of life and know that it too will meet its end. We marvelled at Manchester United's sharp decline under the auspices of David Moyes, bringer of memes, but could not see beyond one season. Manchester United are not the behemoth under Sir Alex Ferguson but possess vast resources to keep trying. And trying. And trying. The managers may change but something may stick. It may be Louis van Gaal. Who knows or cares? Whether it is eventually a league title or regaining a Champions League place is unknown, that ancient rival may rise again after a temporary slumber.
If Liverpool recover and reach the top four, the future may bestow gifts to contort your face into an unreasonable smile. Until then, let prudence and patience enjoy the prominence they deserve. Their names may not be as popular as they once were, and that therein, lies one of the challenges we face as supporters. These are times when what wounds us so may serve to provide the wisdom we will call upon when living off the land of milk and honey is no longer worthy of exaltation.