You love this game, but there are a few things to it. This club, for one, that drew you like an original Pollock gets drawn to a Roman inspired entryway in SoHo. This club with these moments that caught your breath; these jerseys that caught your eye. And each time you delve deeper into its story, you realize that no stories quite like this one came from any other clubs in quite this way.
With the Bill of humble beginnings Bobbing life into backdrops of throbbing success. The success a King would assure would stay always within touch. Even from the thick of a decades-long storm, as it goes.
So it becomes your history. The kind of history that some clubs have and others have none of. But a history that over the last decade has become the purview of oil-slicked, hedge-funded, and globalized monopolies of few. The old truth of the matter is that anyone can win this thing. But the new truth has become that it can all just be bought; perhaps can only be bought.
And so here your club sits, as Red and as pretty as ever. Teetering between the two classes on a line that takes a calm focus to tow, playing a game that so easily affords neither. You could be forgiven for looking up when there's so far to fall if you just pause to look around.
Newcastle, with that old unbelievable Spanish mound at the helm, and it's been two relegations in far too near a memory. Aston Villa, with its Yank at a helm that started with so many of the same promising beats under Martin O'Neil. Fowler, ask a Rangers fan if you dare.
It's not that the fear of failure shouldn't spur you on, it's that it'll swallow you up if you get complacent in this lane. Or at least that's where this is coming from, right?
Twenty-four seven, worry warts about fees. About contract lengths and stadium expansions, and another fucking year tacked on to the drought. It's the first coat of gloss over the blatant human rights infractions behind that prospective new owner. Because the promised land that you're just so damn sick and tired of not reaching would then become a reality. Would be easy, if you look at City. Look at Chelsea, even. One year down but bookies already saying next year's Blues are going to be up.
And if that's what you want we beg you reconsider. You don't have to look far, don't have to look hard. Just halt and have a gander at two renegade agents in the game: Leicester City and Atletico de Madrid.
That cotton-haired geezer Ranieri turned a couple of pizza parties into arguably the greatest modern sports story ever told that didn't also include a civil or human rights victory. Now, we're not saying this victory wasn't won with a few million duckets. The buy-in is steep at this table. But you've read the figures, you know the numbers, and we're not talking about a battle turned upset, or a run at a cup. We're talking about all of these marbles.
You're forgiven for turning Red with envy; for asking why can't this be us? We're richer than them, we're stronger than them, we've got a better pull for the transferred studs. But that's the wrong question to ask, and it's the wrong conclusion to draw. Swell with pride at the feat, and brace the moment with your support. This side of the line is going to need it.
This Leicester City title is already being chewed up and spit out by a media-industrial complex that has much more in common with Vichai's millions than the kid so high in the stands you can't tell if its ketchup or nosebleed staining his Mahrez away. The Blues those bookies are calling for next season aren't the blue Tigers, after all.
That wholly unimpressive collection of has beens and never weres came off the paper we crinkle our noses and tut away at to charge into this pampered professional sport. To change the dynamics of what is possible, and what is a one-off. A collection of regrettable individuals that so many other teams had refused became the head cornerstone of Liverpool's future successes. Still within touching distance; still with it's heart. But this baby isn't going to rock a buy down the path forged by Roman and Mansour.
The Leicester way today is the Liverpool way forward. Put down the net worths and put down your phone. How Jürgen Klopp feels about his group of men when the next three months are done. That's where our next title is won.
And it's not all so idealistic as that. You don't have to go without your full Midas moments during this Summer transfer season. Diego Simeone hasn't.
It took el Cholo the better part of twenty-five million quid to snap up Antoine Griezmann. He was able to pay the loan, transfer, and contract fees for de Gea, for Courtois, and now for Oblak. He had this Arda Turan guy, and his Suarez-esque villain in Diego Costa. He's been leading a club to punch consistently above its weight, but that weight is enough to get £35 million from Dalian Wanda for a 20% stake in the club.
Atletico Madrid have maintained at the forefront of the Spanish and Champions leagues with an undeniable, and at least reasonably big, bit of spending. But the truth of the matter, here, is that without the prodigious youth development, and Simeone's ability to make the whole massively greater than its individual parts, we're not sitting here talking about two Champions League finals in three years for Spain's other other club.
Fernando Torres, Juanfran, Gabi, Filipe Luis mixed with Carrasco, Saul, Correa, and those aforementioned Oblaks and Griezmanns. You're not impressed by half these names if not for Simeone's abilities as a manager. You're not impressed by the club's prospects if not for that. But those fans sure as shit would have been. All along. Those fans remembered the times between Simeone's presence. Old victories keeping the flame of hope alive for new ones. Hope that kept that butter churning even through some slim, slim years for a club in the shadows of its royal citymate.
And doesn't that combination of factors sound pretty damn familiar when you look on Merseyside these days? That's where we go from here, folks. Not to Chelsea. Not to Manchester City. Put away your dreams for £100m quid spends that rival even your best virtual realities. This is a sport about people, this is a club founded on them, and this is the time in the season when we collectively loose all semblance of that.
You're forgiven for losing your shit if the Gotze deal falls through, or if the bid never comes in for whoever ends up this summer's Marco Reus. You're forgiven for wanting Benteke and Skrtel out of town because they still have some transfer value, instead of wanting to keep them because they might just be good pieces for the group. Part and parcel. Bygones.
Just try to remember Atletico Madrid for one Summer. Try to keep Leicester City in you're mind's eye as more than just a season-long flash in the pan destined to be engulfed by the flame any minute. This is a fan's world, here, no matter what the moneybags buy. The gaffer's a fan and they didn't buy him, did they?
Prince died, Klopp arrived, and Leicester won the league. This isn't the year that Ziploc becomes the primary kit sponsor. This is the year of rediscovery, and of realizing that even gold plated cynicism has its equal and opposite reaction. And that reaction will be televised.