There are times when you ache to see the Mighty Reds take the field: the beginning of a new season, after an international break, after losing to West Ham, after both losing to West Ham AND an international break. So on.
Then there are games that you want to see. And there are games that you'll watch, but won't get too enthused about. And then there are games where you look at your schedule and go, "Yeah, I think I can miss that one." Such was the case with me and Exeter last night.
Let me first get one thing straight: I love the FA Cup. I think the format is great. The tradition is fantastic. I love the upsets. I love the replays (when they happen to others). I look forward to the next time Liverpool lift the diminutive trophy. If Liverpool go on and win the competition this year, it would be great for the club. (Not that the Reds got off to an auspicious start against Exeter).
But. But, we've had a lot of games lately, and the players' hamstrings aren't the only ones feeling the fatigue. Sometimes life is more important, especially over the holidays. Moreover, there's only so many times I can play the "Liverpool are playing X" card as an excuse over the course of the season. People, for reasons beyond my understanding, want to spend time with me doing activities other than watching Liverpool. Strange, I know.
Much like Klopp must pick and choose his battles vis-a-vis squad rotation, so must I choose my battles in regards to invested time and effort. Champions League? I'll push over old ladies* in the supermarket checkout line in order to make it home in time. Premier League? Sure sign me up. Early stages of a cup competition? Let me check my schedule and get back to you.
For multiple reasons (including but not limited to the demise of Brendan Rodgers and the rise of Jürgen Klopp) the group stages of the Europa League were more compelling than usual for Liverpool fans. However, under different circumstances, I might not really be invested until the knockout rounds.
As far as domestic cups are concerned, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the League Cup is nearly worthless. It provides an interesting opportunity to win some early silverware, and that's about it. But now that Liverpool are this deep in the competition, it's hard to ignore. Plus winning something for once would be a nice change of pace.
And that brings us to the FA Cup and lowly Exeter. I intentionally skipped it. It's something I rarely do as a Liverpool fan. Sometimes travel plans get in the way. Sometimes social obligations must take precedent. I had neither travel plans nor social obligations last night, but simply decided to walk away from the TV (even if I might have kept my phone close by for notifications). Part of me, the obsessed fan part, wanted to see how the cobbled-together, Frankenstein's monster of a starting XI performed, but I was able to ignore that part of me for a night.
Cup competitions, by their very nature, are winners-take-all affairs. The closer Liverpool get to silverware, the more exciting it will be. And if Klopp & Co. want to keep ramping up the excitement throughout the year, I would have no complaints.
*No ladies, old or otherwise, were injured in the writing of this article.