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Love, Hate and Everything in Between

So many sentiments have jostled for space in our overwrought hearts this season. Fortuitously, most of them have been of the deliriously positive variety but the usual suspects have inspired the full gamut of feelings. It's been emotional.

By the time the synchronised celebrations had begun, poor old Michael and his Spurs chums just wanted to go home...
By the time the synchronised celebrations had begun, poor old Michael and his Spurs chums just wanted to go home...
Alex Livesey

Yesterday, whilst scouring the darkest recesses of the internet for a story to bring you, your scribbler had a Damascene moment. Absent-mindedly perusing an article on the likely pot-placing of Liverpool, should they qualify for Champions League football (pot three, by the way), I was overwhelmed by a powerful medley of emotions which I found difficult to master. Not a naturally excitable character, the pot-pourri of feelings was, in itself, a surprise, but it was my inability to corral them which was even more of a shock. That was when I understood. Everything has changed.

The brilliance of Brendan Rodgers' team has tapped deep wells of hope in many of us and the security blanket of jaundiced cynicism, in which we had wrapped ourselves over years of underachievement and discord, has fallen away. Until season's end at least, all learned responses are redundant. We're going to be feeling some feelings, ladies and gentlemen, so go ahead and bear-hug the bewhiskered Robin Williams in your life. That emotional befuddlement you're experiencing? It's okayIt's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault.

Never anything less than a full-body cardio-workout for this unhealthily obsessed Redman, watching the match has now become a 15 round battle of attrition with the extremities of exultation, desolation, abject terror and joyful anticipation. Punch-drunk and spent upon the final whistle, I have invariably deliquesced into my sofa for the first time in ninety minutes of angsty pacing. There have been at least two occasions recently on which I have woken up groggily expecting to see Brendan's post-match analysis, only to be presented instead with an almost concluded Bundesliga fixture. This season's been beautifully exhausting, delightfully wretched, and I hope it is ever thus.

There is so much to love, of late. We fans are basking like late-Sixties hippies in a blissed-out fug of goodwill and mutual affection. Who amongst you, for example, has not felt an atypical surge of affection for the manager, an individual player or the team as a collective? Winning truly is the ultimate aphrodisiac, and most of us are hopelessly smitten, but it is the attitude of these men that truly wins our hearts.

Off the pitch, the pleasing consistency of Brendan Rodgers' relentless positivity has finally started to win around even the most curmudgeonly of sceptics, but it is the equally gratifying consistency of his vocabulary which warms the cockles of this scrawler's heart. When Kenny was at the helm I used to wait with my imaginary bingo card to check off the multiple uses of LiverpoolFootballClub (one word when the great man said it) but now I listen with amused fondness to see which of the group were outstanding. I heartily enjoy the Northern Irishman's two-staged celebrations also -- the cautious lofted arms followed by the passionate clenched fists. Hell, I've even stopped moaning about Colin Pascoe's bare-legged effrontery -- perhaps the truest testament of my ardour for this current regime.

On the park, there is even more to be enamoured with. Quite apart from the chief reason that we adore this team -- the goal-laden victories -- there are so many reasons to express fondness. Throughout the group, there are individuals who have given us moments to repeatedly savour. Luis Suarez's unparalleled belligerent genius has captivated fans and converted naysayers, Daniel Sturridge's technical élan and idiosyncratic 'dancing' has wooed all comers, Phil Coutinho's slaloming runs and slide-rule assists make us purr like contented felines and Steven Gerrard's wild-eyed celebrations have confirmed that something magical is happening.

Elsewhere, the flailing Tyrannosaurus arms of the sublimely talented Raheem Sterling have made us smile, the skipping girlish glee of the redoubtable Jordan Henderson has borne repeated rewinds and the occasional bravura moments of adroit virtuosity from the hard-as-nails Jon Flanagan have had us roaring our approbation. There is, as I say (another Brendanism), a lot to love about this incarnation of Liverpool FC.

Of course, once we take a trip away from the environs of L4 and begin to contemplate the rest of the football landscape, the emotions are markedly different. It is hard, for example, not to feel a level of disdain for the tiresome Machiavellian antics of Portuguese wind-up merchant, José Mourinho. Since the abdication of the Dark Lord of Mancunia, Mourinho's coaching brilliance and track record are frankly unparalleled amongst the managers he is competing with. This makes it all the more remarkable that this writer finds it difficult to contain the torrent of expletives struggling to escape his mouth every time the celebrated crowd shusher indulges in his latest calculated and painfully transparent manipulation of a fawning media.

Sunday's opponents, West Ham United are guided on their journey to lower-mid-table obscurity by the bumptious Sam Allardyce. A noted Ferguson acolyte and praiser of his own merits, the gum-chewing Allardyce has a history of mouthing off to the press about the shortcomings of the Redmen, despite a pleasing weakness for collecting Anfield outcasts in a kind of Liverpool 'B' tribute band. Most of us will be grimacing ahead of the crucial game at the thoughts of Joe Cole, Andy Carroll or, heaven forfend, Stewart Downing actually having the temerity to be effective against the Redmen after their efforts at being utterly ineffectual whilst donning the Liverbird.

The rest of the league elicits a veritable Pandora's box of emotions, from the mirth-laden pity we feel towards Tim 'Tactics' Sherwood and David 'Giant Eyes' Moyes to the grudging respect one must painfully admit for Roberto Martinez's Everton, to the sepulchral dread we Liverpool fans feel at the mention of the name Tony Pulis. None of these reactions, however, are even vaguely comparable to the giddy ebullience that overcomes us as we contemplate the potential and achievement to date of our beloved Redmen. Emotional incontinence is to be expected, as we press on into this last leg of a propitious campaign. It is probably best to make peace with it and embrace the lunacy that is yet to come. You see, everything has changed.

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