Sport is meant to be, on some level and some of the time at least, something that is fun. The reality, of course, is that for most people most of the time it mostly isn’t. In any given league, there’s only one title to be won. Only one person can finish first.
For everyone or every team that wins—or even finishes second on some podium or fosters hope with an unexpected surge in results—a whole lot of people underwhelm or finish mid-table or fail completely and are never close to being in the running.
“That is really not my concern in the moment,” was Jürgen Klopp’s response when asked about the chances of Liverpool now finishing in the top four places this season—or winning, within the framework of where this team currently find themselves.
“I understand you have to ask that but I cannot think about that. We have to win football games. We have to win one football game. That would be helpful and then we will see. My boys want to win, I know that. We couldn’t do it. That’s the problem.”
Most athletes won’t end a given season or competition triumphant—and that’s after most who start with hopes and dreams don’t make it in the first place. Most fans of a club or team or country won’t see them victorious, not this time or next or the one after.
Normally, this isn’t a problem. Normally, everyone still goes around thinking and acting like and maybe even believing they have a chance. The problem comes when that stops, the mood flips, and everyone starts going around believing that they don’t.
At that point, rational starts to go out the window. Reasons, no matter how sensible, start to sound like hollow excuses. Injuries, a lack of fans, years of sustained intensity. All might be valid, but at some point valid struggles to cut through the futility.
Liverpool have been in a run of relegation form for two-and-a-half months. It’s increasingly difficult to see a viable path to this being a winning season by any definition of the word. Now it feels like a season to be endured and, hopefully, forgotten.
“The next game is in a different competition where we didn’t do too bad so far,” added Klopp, tacking on the but maybe, the hope that will inevitably keep everyone coming back no matter the footballing futility on display in recent weeks.
“If we can go through, which is not guaranteed, then that could give confidence. Then we have Wolves, which is a tough one, and then we have a couple of weeks off because of the Chelsea game and the international break and all these kind of things.
“We have to use that time, we have to hope all the boys who go to their national teams come back healthy, like always. Then I think there are another nine or 10 games to go, sounds like 27 or 30 points, so a lot to go for and we will try.”