Dear Opposition Fans,
First of all, welcome to this blog. Enemy territory. Land of the Unbearables. So on. Last week I wrote a piece directed toward Liverpool fans about rising above the fume. This week, I’m directing this message to you, Evertonians, Blues and Reds of Manchester, and other folk in England and abroad who are desperate to see Liverpool’s lengthy title drought continue.
I guess we should be flattered, this obsession with us. But honestly, it’s grown quite stale. This obsession is so great, that even writers for ESPN are pumping out “think” pieces about how there really should be a title race! If only the shit referees in England could have their shit decisions stand! Then there’d be a title race! Lads, we gave you one of, if not the, greatest title race of the Premier League era last season. Sorry if things are so boring for you this time around.
I digress. I understand the obsession. I understand the fear. Liverpool fans know it too well. We lived in fear for each and every one of Manchester United’s 13 top flight titles since we last won the league. We lived in fear during our title challenges in 2008/09, 2013/14, and last year. In football, as is often the case in life, the fear was the worst part. We didn’t want to see our rivals lifting the big one at the end of the season. We didn’t want to see our own best efforts falling short. Again.
But this fear was ultimately unhealthy, and did nothing to prevent other teams from winning or Liverpool from finishing second best (or usually worse). Since Liverpool were last crowned the Champions of England, we watched our own records eclipsed by United, as well as multiple championships for Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City. Sprinkle in the occasional Leeds United, Blackburn Rovers, and Leicester City, and our 30 years of fruitlessness begins to well and truly sink in.
We feared United taking our record 18 titles from us. Until the worst imaginable thing happened. They won #18. Then #19. Then #20. Our record—now theirs—was well and truly out of reach. We had to move on. We still had dreams and songs to sing. In a counter-intuitive way, United taking that record away from us helped end our obsession. We still want to beat United. We still want our record back. However, our focus is now far more about ourselves than it is on those Red Devils down the road.
To you, dear opposition fan, Liverpool winning a single Premier League is the worst thing imaginable. The same was said last year before we won the Champions League. And then we did, and it’s over. Yeah, we sing about it. We’re proud about it. But ask Tottenham fans who were in Madrid: the general impression was that Reds were largely sound, and even sympathetic toward the other supporters. Of course we were. We’ve been there. In Athens. In Kiev. For nearly 3 decades besides when things didn’t quite shake out the way we had hoped.
We still might not win the league this year. It’s far from over, of course. But eventually, Liverpool will get their hands on the big thing. And when they do, this unhealthy obsession with us failing can end. The worst thing will have happened, and you’ll realize it’s not that big of a deal. You can focus on your own goals next season.
And it’s not like we haven’t given you some great memories along the way! You’ll always have “The Slip.” We know, because we still hear you singing about it. You’ll always have “Liverpool leading at Christmas.” You’ll have last year, where even the 3rd best points total ever was still not good enough. Only Liverpool, am I right?
I’m sure many of you—if you’re still around reading this—are rolling your eyes. But trust us: it’ll all be OK. If we can survive three decades of watching our direct rivals win everything, all while our own trophy cabinet mostly collects nothing but dust, and living through the Twitter #TopBantz era, you can survive a few years of a Liverpool revival. If it makes you feel better, you can start writing, “come back after you’ve won more Premier League titles than Blackburn Rovers.” That’s a freebie.
If Liverpool do the decent thing—for all fans, really—next season will kick off like any other, with everyone having hopes for their own clubs, and not a tin-foil hat obsession with ours.
Zachary A. Marx