Football, arguably more than most sports, is driven the passion of its fans. For generations communities have banded together to support their local heroes, gathering weekly to suck the ball into the opposing net or run adversaries off the pitch with their zeal.
Anfield in particular is a high temple to the fan, having forged over the decades one of the most awe-inspiring atmospheres in all of Europe.
Supporters in stadiums are only one of the countless things the pandemic has robbed the world of over the past nine months. And although a long winter fighting the virus lies ahead, fans beginning their return to football this week represents something akin to a beacon of hope.
The Liverpool City Region managed to avoid the UK government’s most stringent, recently announced restrictions allowing for up to 2,000 fans to be in attendance at home games starting with Sunday’s Premier League clash with Wolves.
Local star, Trent Alexander-Arnold recently expressed his relief at the prospect of playing in a populated Anfield once again:
“It’s difficult because you don’t realize how much fans influence game plans, like with momentum and the sounds you can hear,” Alexander Arnold said speaking to ex-Arsenal legend Ian Wright in association with Red Bull. “I miss the fans so much. It feels empty without them.
“Even though you know they’re watching at home and they’re all over the world tuning in, it’s not the same without them. Football’s not the same.
“Obviously times are hard and stuff like that but it’s the world we live in right now.
The Wrexham-born star and childhood Reds fan is one who has been on both sides of the symbiotic Liverpool residents have with their storied club, noting how supporters energize the players before they even arrive to the stadium.
“I miss the route into the stadium, all the fans there, tens of thousands waiting to greet us every single game,” the 22-year-old continued.
“No matter what there’s at least ten thousand fans just waiting to watch the bus come into the stadium, it’s crazy.
It’s an atmosphere the reigning Premier League champions have sorely missed. Alexander-Arnold and the rest of his squad will welcome the edge even just 2,000 supporters will provide the Reds as they seek to push on through a brutal stretch of matches.
“I hear the crowd at times,” Trent added. “Especially with the way we play, someone makes a tackle, even with the manager he gets excited, because the fans are excited.
“[The Anfield atmosphere] is like a knock-on effect. If our intensity’s there the fan’s intensity is there, and if the fan intensity’s there so is ours.
“I’m telling you there’s something in the stadium, like spiritual. It’s just something in the atmosphere, you can feel the history, you can feel [the force].”