Liverpool Football Club are on quite the tear. Seeing their closest rivals in the chase for the Premier League trophy drop points, the Reds did what they’ve done pretty much all season: collect all three points. Ho hum.
But this was more than just any old win: it was the Manchester United derby. It was against the only team that, this season, has managed to take any points off of the Reds. It was a match that’d help to seemingly put those chasing the Reds even further ahead.
And yet, to Jurgen Klopp and the rest of the Reds, it well and truly was just another match. Which could probably be used for #bantz, given that Liverpool’s greatest rival barely register a blip to this LFC squad. Could’ve been Brighton out there. May as well have been Wolverhampton.
This moment, though, one in which the entirety of the club is fashioning something so special that, were it not for us being able to see it, would be hard to believe. And the path to it has been an absolute gift to witness.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. And this Liverpool squad have spent the entirety of this season cashing in on the faith of its fanbase - as jittery and wounded and skeptical as its corners may be. For Liverpool fans this season, the product on the pitch are the evidence of that hard born faith. One that trusted deeply in this motley crew of stars being led by a lovable goof from Germany.
Watching the team put in a shift against this United team was something else, though. Because even allowing for a weakened squad due to the absence of both Paul Pogba and the freshly injured star striker, Marcus Rashford, Liverpool always looked in control. What is maddening is that they never seemed to play outside of second gear for most of this match.
It’s a recurring theme from this season: Liverpool have been just good enough all year to get by - scrape, in some instances - and nab the points. They haven’t always looked rampant, despite their points total. They’ve not always looked sharp. But they’ve ended up collecting all the spoils.
And I think that’s at least part of why I’ve been a bit more nervy while watching than this club’s performances have warranted. It’s that I’ve not seen them - bar, perhaps, the thrashing against Everton and the absolute destruction of Leicester City - hit top flight. They’ve been composed. They’ve been controlled. They’ve been relentless.
The performance they put forth on Sunday was the type of performance that a champion puts in - one rooted in confidence and experience. I think it’s that bit that most scribes and pundits have missed in their appraisals of this squad. I think it’s also why some people who I - and others - admire for their analysis have managed to miss the quality of this squad. It’s hard to quantify how good a team is when they’re playing most of their games in second gear, managing a game so as to see it off and not necessarily keep it at a track meet.
What we know now, though, is what Liverpool fans have known all along: this team is the best in the league by a fair margin. And while they may have received a bit of luck from their rivals stumbling, they’ve continued to put in the shifts to make those stumbles count. They’ve done the work and the results are the evidence of all we’ve known.
I am doing my best, now, to soak in all of this. To enjoy this Liverpool squad while writing for this community at this very moment. Especially because it will all come to an end soon enough. Too soon, for me.
And because this is a piece about faith, I must admit this weekend was a bit difficult. Because my own faith has been going through a long and painful reformation. One where I continue to wrestle with the truth I know - a truth that would look at the entirety of my life as evidence of that unseen thing - and the imperfect institutions that house that truth.
As part of that, I decided to enter into some spiritual exercises - to seek in the way that I might have when I was younger. Immediately, I was confronted with the things I struggle with because it is a program rooted in an asceticism that is extreme with very little holding it together. Worse, it’s a bit of a flawed framework. But if there is an aspect of my personal faith walk, it’s that my curiosity leads me to seek even when I find some things that are strange or give me pause. I trust, I suppose, what led me to seek in the first place.
All of that to say that I’ve had to give up my main source of contact with my friends and this community. And if you’ve ever known me or known how much I comment on this goofy and wonderful website (or tweet), then you know this is rather tough. Watching this match without being able to read everyone else’s thoughts - to enter my virtual pub, as it were - left me feeling a bit empty. I miss you all, and while I’ve not been perfect at keeping my fast, I’ve been doing my best.
My hope is that this walk will yield some things worth finding out. And in the seven of ninety days, it already has.
There are few things in this world, I think, as satisfying as having one’s faith in someone or something bear out. Where hope meets fulfillment.
Liverpool fans will have a lot to feel satisfied about should the thing this team is building come to fruition. Because we are in the middle of a special moment. A generational moment. And the evidence of what we may have got coming for us is something historic. Enjoy it all, Reds. Enjoy it all.