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Hairspray: Skinny Love

Ahead of their match with Exeter City, Liverpool see your central defensive crisis and raise you one Tiago Ilori.

Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

So it has come to this. Fifteen or so summer transfers. Well over £100 million of transfer business. The new hope of a managerial change. And now Liverpool face a Friday Cup tie and two top tier rivals over the next three fixtures with no bloody center backs. Or is it centre halves? Do we get a fresh set of hamstrings if we spell it a certain way? It appears as if the impending doom, or fabled glory, of this season rests on slim hopes. Some might say the slimmest hopes. Slim as Tiago Ilori's quadriceps, that is.

That's right, sports fans, your season hinges on the quicksilver grace, iguana-like field of vision, and wafer thin frame of one Tiago Abiola Delfim Almeida Ilori. What you always wanted. The credit card reward points gift of central defenders, unceremoniously yanked from the stocking stuffer category of transfer spending.

You know the one, a laugh and some hugs amidst a night of rejoicing, but then the next day it's just kind of there. Still kind of sadly half in its packaging. The Swiss Army kitchen cutlery set that Liverpool duped themselves in to during that foggy haze of shopping. The eyes were weary and the power of those fake internet points seemed so limitless!

Worse mistakes have been made off of prosecco-thinned brain function and a global network of opportunity conveniently emailed to a spam folder, sure. But how many cost £7m, sports fans, how many?

People sell their dirty socks for more than £7m these days, it's true. But for Tiago Ilori it has been £7m, two years, and not a single competitive minute of football kicked in Red. Shame, really, as it's been through no real fault of his own that he finds himself in this weird professional limbo. All the guy did was play well at a youth tournament, for Fowler's sake.

And now it feels like he has an entire season riding on his shoulders, doesn't it? After starting so anonymously. Happily drifting away into the ether as another sacrifice to the Dani Pacheco Memorial Squad Role. An afterthought of an afterthought in the doldrums of Aston Villa's amorphous masochism, Tiago Hugo Boss iLloris. Even the nickname always felt like a stretch.

But lets be real for a second: thanks to Musclemageddon, Liverpool are literally down to the combined dust particles formerly known as Kolo Toure and Jose Enrique's lower appendages and some yutes you haven't even been able to bring yourself to wikipedia for this central defensive pairing against Exeter City. Shit is bleak, yo. Shit is Memphis Bleek.

Oh, what's that? We can start Lucas Leiva at CB, you say? Right. We had forgotten how incredibly rock solid of an idea it has always been to overplay Lucas at critical points of a season. It's never burned us before, why should it start burning us now? Our own manager is making dry comments about how we're so banged up we can't even train anymore, all we do is recover. He's not even mad, guys, he's just resentful.

But this isn't going to derail you, is it? Just because you've tried to love Tiago before and had him whimsically taken away from you time and time again, teased into a state of sullen uncaring. You are not giving up. Because if there is one thing sports teaches us it is the true meaning of love.

Not that eternal, meant to be bullshit. We're talking real love. The transient kind. The kind that gets into your bones like an illness and just won't quit until it has had its way with you. Then, just as you feel like you've forgotten all notion of life before this love, it goes. It leaves you. Leaves you hanging and used up. Love. That's what being a proper sports fan is like.

That's what following Liverpool has been like since Klopp walked in the door, hasn't it? All of the feels, none of the negativity, right up until we are - and we just can't stress this point enough - down to Kolo Toure and Jose Enrique as a legitimate starting CB option for a professional football match.

So maybe this is what it took to kickstart the love story with Tiago Ilori is what we're saying. Maybe we had to get rung through that ringer and flown right up close to that Jürgie Sun. To the point we got heatstroke and fell all the way back down to the doldrums of ineptitude, again. Back into feelings we thought we were beyond already. What with Brendan gone. Bitey McNibblestein. Having survived Uncle Woy, and all.

Maybe these were the depths we had to plunge to truly appreciate those gangling chicken wings Ilori calls legs. Maybe the fluid running motion won't be denied after all. And why not give it a go? Why not - other than his not being thick enough to see in the first place - get behind the lad?

By the mucked up Porsches of Andre Wisdom, this could be our day, after all! So, let it fly, Tiago! Walk on! Jose says you've been virtually capable of doing this in untold simulated realities before, and we are coming to the cold realization that we have no other choice but to be right behind you.

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