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Everything’s the Worst: A Test of Faith

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We wanted it to be one way, but it’s the other way.

Leicester City v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

You sit alone among many. You can stand but simply cannot stand to do so. You feel vomit in your throat that will stay there as the pit of your stomach draws you into its expanding depths. You are not enough. You are something but have nothing. You failed to meet both the hopes and expectations of legion. You try to tell yourself that you will go again for this is what you do. You remember something horrible, something that you wanted to forget; however, despair is a magnet. You think too much but can’t think at all.

This has happened to Liverpool under the aegis of Jürgen Klopp. The frustration and disappointment when Liverpool lost the Europa League final after that moment by Daniel Sturridge. As a winning goal, it would have afforded him a most nostalgic place in Liverpool’s history. As the opening goal of a 3-1 defeat, it probably reaffirms his place alongside Rob Jones as players that underline the truly capricious nature of injuries. Rob Jones would have been a Liverpool legend and England mainstay; Sturridge, on the other hand, would have forced a worthy chant out of Anfield’s denizens. Alas.

Losing is awful. Feeling you lost an opportunity that may never come again is worse. Knowing that one or two alterations could change everything is despairing. You see it with teams, people, relationships, businesses, and families. The changes that seem easy to implement or act upon flicker for a time before they blind almost every powerless observer. The "This is Fine" meme has lived long beyond the lifespan of most meme superstars simply because of how it pertains to the human condition; moreover, it obviates the need for any further explanation for a whole catalogue of varying scenarios.

It’s not just losing, it’s missing out. Maybe it is an opportunity to change direction or meet someone special; it could very well be that chance you’ve worked for whether it exists as finally putting pressure on a rival after spending months trying to get into a position to do so or winning a trophy for the first time in a generation. These moments are neither humdrum nor easily obtainable; indeed, they are incredible due to their rarity. Sometimes, though, your faith is tested. It could be in life, relationships, a beloved sporting team, family members, or, most of all, yourself.

Over two years ago on 20 May 2015, I wrote about Steven Gerrard and Mad Men as the embodiment of the real thing.

What is true and genuine, by that I mean of incontrovertible quality, is paradoxically common and rare. Good is all around us, but snaring it for regular use is far more trying than it should be. Perhaps that's why the send-off Steven Gerrard received was of such magnitude — loyalty isn't easy when you're that good. Prolonged farewells are uncomfortable for me as they engender unnecessary introspection for an individual already prone to it. However, this weekend of goodbyes felt appropriately coincidental. The enduring legend during my adult life as a fan will no longer play at Anfield and an esteemed cultural favourite shaped by the mind of Matthew Weiner concluded somewhat fittingly. Some will disagree that these two were what their supporters claimed, but for many, parting with them will not be a simple task. Replacements help, of course, but the problem lies in locating adequate successors.

Days later, in Steven Gerrard’s final match as a Liverpool player, his boyhood club was brutally humiliated 6-1 by Stoke City at the Britannia. He couldn’t go again or bounce back. The season was over, and with it, his Liverpool career. He would, of course, go on to play for LA Galaxy; yet that was a wretched way to sign off as a Liverpool legend. In retropsect, that day was effectively the beginning of end of the Brendan Rodgers era that reached its conclusion in October. Jürgen Klopp helped heal the wounded feeling that Liverpool will never get things right, but after a deicdedly mixed start to the season replete with unwanted familiarity and frustration, faith is being tested once again.

Liverpool might not have enough to match Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur this season. September may have vindicated Philippe Coutinho’s willingness to join Barcelona at all costs, but Jürgen Klopp remains one of the beacons of hope for a red revival. Patience in some of the playing squad may be a hindrance as opposed to a virtue, but not many players that will depart in the next 12 to 18 months can claim they were not given a chance.

The club of Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, and Dalglish has not won the league title since 1990 and will not win it this season. Jürgen Klopp is a very good manager for a long-term project, but his way is not the way of Guardiola and Mourinho. Hailed as a messiah early on during his tenure, many of our number overlooked that he is what he is.

He's not Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, or King Kenny either. Those days are gone, and even if the league title returned to Anfield, it just wouldn't be the same. Then again, it wouldn't need to be after so long. What Klopp does know, however, is how to make a squad better over a number of years playing exciting football. Let's see where he takes us.

Maybe we wanted it to be one way, but in many ways, it’s the other way.