Sometimes my mind moves faster than my mouth. Just this past weekend, I was taking a stroll on the beach with my wife and baby daughter. While trying to tell my wife that my baby’s eyelids were droopy and that we can finally truly live in hope that she would fall asleep, I ended up saying something that sounded like, “ey-Leeds” (like the the football team) and my wife couldn’t stop cracking up at how my Filipino tongue betrayed me in that moment. Later that evening, while watching Daniel Sturridge put the cherry on top of a comprehensive performance, I found my tongue similarly flummoxed as I struggled to find anything other than guttural noises of joy and maybe some tears. My mind imploded before words reached my lips.
And with that the Premier League season began. An explosion of Red hammering the hapless Hammers, leaving El Ingeniero trying to devise a scheme on how to most quickly exit the stadium. And leaving Reds fans of the optimistic sort to wonder: just how good is this team, really?
That question for an optimistic dreamer is a dangerous one because it leads down a rabbit hole of other questions. For example:
- What if they’re, like the best team ever?
- And if they are the best team ever, who’s the best player?
- It’s Daniel Sturridge, but what if it’s not Daniel Sturridge?
- Is it Naby Keita? It might be Naby Keita.
- Point of order: I think it might be Sadio Mané.
- Were last two things even questions?
- No. Wait...where did the sun go?
Because, that’s the thing right? At this brightest of starts to a long journey, anything is possible. And when anything is possible, we dream.
Daniel Sturridge winning a trophy as a Red is a dream of mine. It’s a weird dream - he’s a bit of a fringe player at the moment. Maybe less fringe than, say, Ragnar Klavan, but he’s not necessarily looked at, in this moment, as a regular rotational piece. If we’re looking at a top 15 set of players that will likely carry the load in terms of minutes, Studge is currently on the cusp, duking it out w/ the likes of Joe Gomez, Alberto Moreno, Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana for that 15th spot. Meaning, when everyone’s healthy, he’s still a bit on the outside looking in.
Oddly enough, it may be the best thing to happen for Sturridge’s performance and chances to remain healthy since his halcyon days playing the attacking foil to Luis Suarez. He’s not the centerpoint of attack. He isn’t be asked to carry the workmate over 90 minutes regularly. And his quality - ever present - gets to be pointed at tired legs and lower competition.
Expectations, like hope, have risen. And the only thing that comes with that is the equally terrifying prospect of those hopes being dashed, leaving you with nothing but those unmet expectations.
It is the nature of the fan to be an optimist and the nature of the optimist to raise the stakes as a season progresses. And a sky-high start means sky-high expectations means the distance between success and the valley of disappointment is vast. Enough time to wonder openly in the fall between the two as to why we decided to get carried away with hope. Enough time remind ourselves of the beauty of the team move in the opening goal as to why this can’t be our year.
Ultimately, we know that everything’s to play for. But unlike those false dawns in previous years - even after that breathless 2013-2014 - we’ve come out of this first match seemingly picking up right where we left of. And for dreamers in need of that sure-footed path, evidence of a solidly executed match, complete with beautiful team goals, incessant pressing, and Klopp hugs to boot, this match provided that in spades.
There’s no way to truly predict what will come during this campaign except to say there will likely be more performances like this and some where the result will naturally be disappointing.
But the dream remains alive.
It’s only one match, but Liverpool are still in the hunt in all competitions. Daniel Sturridge is still a Red. And, yesterday, Daniel Sturridge scored a goal. We’re still as close as we’ve ever been to Daniel Sturridge winning a trophy as a Red. But it also feels a tiny step closer, a little more real.