It is finally here. The new season of Liverpool Football Club and an official end to matches that don’t count. Sunday’s Community Shield marked the end of Liverpool’s pre-season mark. And given the way the Reds scrapped it out with Manchester City, it’s clear the lads from Merseyside believed it was a real match with real implications.
So, then, the summer that loomed so large in my brain has mostly breezed on by. I thought I’d be mining the weekends away lost in the interminable torpor brought on by weekends without Liverpool football to guide me. No nagging talking points. No moments of The Admiral’s brilliance to obsess over. It should have been a long and, in some ways, cruel summer.
Not that it hasn’t been a rough summer. It’s difficult to parse my thoughts in this moment, filled with excitement, when contrasted with the fact that, here in America, we’ve just had another deadly weekend. One spurred on and inspired by the racism we’ve spent time discussing in this very space all too often, it seems.
It has not been a time simply filled with anticipation. And if there were one thing I would hope that Liverpool fans - especially those in America - to tangle with, is our excitement in this moment is centered on a team which is the embodiment of the ideal, plural society might look like. You have immigrants from Senegal, Guinea, Brazil, Scotland, the Netherlands, and Egypt. You have native-born Englishmen. All of it being helmed by a manager from Germany.
This Liverpool project could not be possible without multiple people from diverse backgrounds buying into the singular goal of winning things together as a unit. Sacrificing, often times, individual aims and hopes, in order to advance the goals of the community. It is, in a very real sense, a communal effort.
I am buoyed by the hope that Liverpool Football Club’s make-up carries. Implicitly, it says that we can rally around a common goal and find harmony in the work that we do. It is a message I need to hear in these times.
The start of the season couldn’t come soon enough and, now, it’s here. We’re looking at a season that will undoubtedly be a difficult march. Manchester City, as evidenced by the Community Shield results, still loom at Liverpool’s most real threat. Tottenham, fresh off of their Champions League appearance against our very own Reds, have only strengthened their squad. Even Everton have dipped heavily into their coffers headed into this season.
The Premier League campaign, which begins in earnest on Friday against Norwich City, will once more be one played out with infinitely small margins. Last season saw a measly point separate City and Liverpool. This season, there’s no reason to expect anything else except a tight race to the title.
Liverpool are going to need every single one of their members to bring their A-game, week-to-week. With the squad improving once more despite the lack of signings thanks in large part to youth and fringe players stepping up, the depth available to Jurgen Klopp is immense. Couple all of that with the returns of long-term injured folks like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita, and there’s a lot of reason for Reds to be both hopeful and intrigued heading into this season.
The player that elicits the most intrigue for me is one that balances those two things pretty well: a youth player that looks ready to make the next step and one returning from long absences, Rhian Brewster. Rhian’s pre-season has been promising and despite Jurgen Klopp’s attempt to mute enthusiasm and expectations, I am incredibly excited to see what the young man can bring onto the pitch. Off of it, he’s already shown himself to be one to watch, given his openness to talk about issues of race as well his ability to withstand the irrepressible barbs of Ox. Brewster is, for me, the Liverpool attacker I’ve been most excited about since the days of a particular young and well-coiffed Spaniard.
The musings that often catch me at the edge of Summer and Fall are tinged with melancholy. The mix of excitement over what’s to come and the longing for the good times already past.
Liverpool’s most recent iteration is the perfect blend of that. More glory and more good memories are undoubtedly in the offing. But there’s already a longing to go back to the halcyon moments of the second leg against Barcelona and lifting #6. We are living in the now, before the unrevealed future, and basking in the warm glow of our past.