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Don't Worry, Be Happy

Amidst the unrelenting gloom and despondency of this campaign, fun has been in scarce supply and unqualified appreciation of the footballers who don the Liverbird has been even rarer. It's time to just smile.

Typically, the Kolo-instigated group-hug was somewhat unothodox.
Typically, the Kolo-instigated group-hug was somewhat unothodox.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The events of the last twelve months seem to have broken the spirit of many a good Red. A year ago, flushed with an ebullient passion, Liverpool supporters believed the club was on the cusp of a return to the very summit of the domestic game. Whilst the systematic tearing away of 365 pages on my classroom Word For The Day calendar has undoubtedly enhanced the vocabulary of a few Irish youngsters, the transcience of that time has wrought untold trauma on the portion of them who share a footballing allegiance with their hapless academic guide, and they are not alone in their angst.

Where once there were thronged coach routes of blissed-out partisans, now those same fans are a wretched embattled bunch, riven by infighting over myriad divisive issues and driven to distraction by endless cyclical debates. The so-called LFC Family is due in front of a jaded local magistrate soon because Mom and Dad's sniping has become too loud for the neighbours and now Junior is beginning to pick fights at school with some kid called José. Truth be told, this creeping malaise is not new and last season's comparatively mellow accord was, in fact, the exception rather than the rule. There's always something to moan about. Today, for example, Twitter is in high dudgeon about the fact that Memphis Depay looks to have chosen the third richest club in the world over LFC. Stunning, eh? And yet, recriminations are rife. Someone is to blame! Tremendous.

The divisions in the Liverpool fan base run deep but this antipathy is hard to reconcile in a world in which so much real tragedy confronts us daily. There is so much joy to be had in the act of devotion to a club as glorious as Liverpool and yet an air of embittered misanthropy has settled over so many with the irritating heft of one of your grandmother's scratchy old blankets. What would become of these puce-faced, rage-monsters were they ever to face a real problem in their lives? Surely there are more constructive ways of spending one's precious hours than in heated exchanges with other faceless anger-mongers? I suggest there are, and hereby renounce any further morbid caterwauling about my club's disappointing season.

Cynical sorts will always whine about the concept of creating any kind of cult around footballers. They're professionals, not entertainers, comes the inevitable retort from our joyless chums, whenever one of our lot does something funny or daft. My response to that attitude, whether the team is soaring or struggling, is simple. What are you in this for? What possible point does your po-faced refusal to have a laugh serve? Are you going to WILL LFC to the title by the sheer potency of your moral indignation? Does Mario Balotelli's latest Instagram post really represent the root of all evil? Or should you perhaps have a bloody sweetie and relax in the knowledge that your spittle-drenched opprobrium will have exactly ZERO effect, so you may as well smile?

Should any angry types reading this offering wish to begin the slow rehabilitative process of learning to love being a Liverpool supporter again, might I suggest you start with the latest gym-based japes of Mario Balotelli and Kolo Touré? First we see the Italian striker taunted by his teammates before taking on a huge 640lb weight on the leg press machine. Then, as he is warned not to try another, Balotelli fixes his advisor with a stare and says the most Balotelli thing possible -- "Why no no? My friend, I am powerful."

Having worked himself into a frenzy of expletive-laden enthusiasm on the same apparatus, Touré exhorts a shirtless Lucas to look at him for moral support in the way a toddler would demand a parent's attention as they grapple with a tricycle. With an oddly fitting soundtrack of Kanye West's Runaway blaring, the likeable lug then roars his way to a successful extension before almost buckling his entire body with an uncontrolled snap-back. It's comedy gold.

I've been immoderately fond of the Ivorian since his first lean at Melwood, a view only enhanced by virtually everything he has done since, from the imperious to the comically abject. I just can't help being fond of him, you see. The AFCoN-winning captain is undoubtedly a more than capable footballer, and I would personally have selected him far more often than Brendan Rodgers has, but there is something else, something in his bearing that just tickles me. Kolo seems to be perpetually on the verge of succumbing to a helpless giggle. The man makes me smile, I guess, and when life has taught one the real worth of such a blithe, if fleeting moment, one understands that smiling is good. Smiling is very good.

Touré has had his own reasons for happiness during this campaign. He always will. He's wired that way. Aside from the glee of skippering the Ivory Coast to glory, the perma-grinning defender has been impressed with the performances of a couple of his squad-mates. With the Players Awards night looming, our disgruntled friends will be full of bile about preening self-congratulatory footballers blah blah blah. The leg-press enthusiast cares not a jot for such mealy-mouthed clap-trap and has picked his own two personal favourites for the Player of the Year award.

"I have two players to be honest who I think will be challenging for it," Touré reasoned, in an interview with the Echo. "They are Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson. They have both been really consistent and have played really well. Jordan has been really strong. He has scored some important goals and led the team really well when Steven Gerrard wasn’t in the team. Philippe has been great. Last season he was fantastic, but this season he has added more goals to his game. It’s a tough decision. Who is going to win? I have my choice but I’m going to keep that under my hat. I think it’s going to be between those two players."

"Who cares?" cry the naysayers. "Who wants to be the player of THAT season?" And, to be fair, one can have a little sympathy with such a view, until the truth dawns. The past cannot be changed. The season has been a failure on so many levels, but when we focus on the good, we are not celebrating mediocrity, as many would have it, but rather clinging to the few beacons of positivity that bob up from the mire of despondency. If you have it in you to rage against the accumulated wrongs you perceive at Liverpool Football Club, knock yourself out. Until the next season starts this scribbler is going to watch Kolo and Mario videos, eat biscuits and remember that it's good to be Red. Hell, I might even give a spin or two to the old Mc Ferrin tune when the vexed screeching gets intolerable.

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