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Telling Stories

As the fans of most clubs brace themselves for the ebb and flow of emotion that accompanies the summer transfer window, Liverpool's vast army of fans are downbeat for a number of reasons.

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"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."

Albert Camus

"People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy."

Anton Chekhov

Well, this is likely to be quite a tedious spell, isn't it? If there was one thing that Liverpool's long suffering hordes of supporters did not need it was to lurch through another protracted period of jarring uncertainty ahead of the even more distressing wave of thwarted ambition and forced optimism that has inevitably come to characterise recent LFC summers.

This is not morbidity for the sake of it. Quite the opposite, in fact. Anyone unfortunate enough to have regularly experienced them, will know the poor meanderings of this column have been home to an almost belligerently positive presentation of life at Anfield and they will continue to be. There is altogether too much dour and masochistic negativity about, if one seeks it. However, as some laconic sort once said, it's the hope that kills you.

Fans of the Redmen began last June wearing what they believed to be a Kevlar vest of positivity and optimism, but slowly, incrementally, the heavy calibre rounds of bad fortune and bad judgement  reduced that doughty protection to a shattered husk. Decoration merely. Now, our fragile forms exposed to the full arsenal of football's ordnance, we are the picture of impuissant vulnerability, open to attacks from all comers and prey to the high likelihood of friendly fire, as those standing beneath the same banner squabble endlessly about how best to progress.

In a fashion that this scribbler finds decidedly unedifying, there appears to be a culture of 'briefing' and leaking around the club. As a result, there currently exists a kind of certainty that Brendan Rodgers will remain at the helm for the campaign to come, despite the fact that he has yet to face what those same briefings have insisted will be a rigorous appraisal from his FSG overlords. This has rendered much of the debate around the Antrim man's efficacy and the speculation about the candidates that some see as upgrades, quite redundant.

Similarly, it would appear that the new targets drawn up by the much-vaunted transfer committee are as open and predictable as they have been for some time. Last summer the arrivals of Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert were far from shrouded in mystery. Twelve months later, Danny Ings, James Milner, Christian Benteke and now, Eduardo Salvio are hardly the names to spark fans' reveries, but it would seem that they are very much the men in the club's crosshairs.

We know these names because the papers and other media outlets know them, and when it comes to LFC market activity, the media always seems to know. Then they tell us. This can be massively disheartening for fans, who are effectively denied even the dubious pleasure of dreaming about unlikely superstars donning the Liverbird. I mean, recent history seems to have taught us that if it's not in the paper or being mooted by Sky sources, what's the point in hoping?

The upheaval that the off-season brings to all clubs is troubling enough to supporters' beleaguered brain pans, but the faint possibility of a new hero arriving acts as a kind of salve to that. Liverpool's global legion of advocates are like the unfortunate moviegoer who has been told the ending of the movie before he has even stained his white t-shirt with the hot butter from his popcorn. It feels as though the tale has already been written, with only the less pleasant possibilities remaining as a surprise.

If you had suggested some years ago, dear reader, that this Irishman would ever crave the unpredictability of a summer transfer window, you would have found yourself sneeringly dismissed and checked for alcohol intoxication. However, when the alternative is to know in advance of the uninspiring business the club intends to do, that chaotic and maddening maelstrom seems an almost pleasant option. As, indeed, does the sweet oblivion offered by the aforementioned booze.

There are no prizes, however, for being the kind of irksome individual who glories in the empty smugness of an I told you so. I have never understood the satisfaction to be gleaned from asserting that, yes, you had been right all along about the misery that had befallen you. No, far better to adopt an unwise position of optimistic expectancy. I mean, if we're going to be disappointed anyway, you'll forgive me for telling myself some distractingly daft tales about South American goalscorers in the interim.

Where I'm from we regale each other with stories all the time -- long rambling anecdotes that become more implausible with every earnestly apocryphal retelling. It doesn't matter that we know what happens because every rendition will bring a new twist or mine devilish humour that had been previously untapped. Maybe the panjandrums at Liverpool will be so kind as to shake the narrative up a little for us in the weeks to come, so as to render the recital of  this summer's tale a little more enjoyable.

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