Danny Gallagher tries to put his finger on just quite what is happening at Liverpool Football Club right now.
Something has been going amiss recently, something not quite right concerning the bird and her standard procedures. Something that can only really be explained when put into writing.
It isn’t a specific issue that the finger can readily be placed upon, but rather a whole host of different elements that, in the last eight months or so, have made her almost unrecognisable.
She’s always been ambitious, that’s for sure. And it has never been any hidden secret that in the past she has been the talk of Europe, conquering the continent on multiple occasions! Worth mentioning her strong attachment to the destination of Rome, she’s been quite successful there…
But that’s her past though, over the last few years it hasn’t really been mentioned much. People often comment upon her dominance in the seventies and the eighties, and make no mistake, dominance it certainly was. A shift has happened since then however. Long, transitional and generally accepted well. Although it was never to be accepted any other way to be honest; she’s never been short of doting supporters.
Of recent times however, it all got a bit strained. Monotony had crept in and we both knew that, in all respects, she was underperforming. Put short, a very subdued and downbeat aura had engulfed her personality. It was perhaps these factors that everybody simply got used to; after all, she seemed to take to these traits unfortunately quite well. Yet she was still very much capable of an occasional reminiscent burst, showing flashes of the brilliance of old.
I’m writing this however in order to try and fully understand and gain perspective upon the changes that have begun to unfold. In recent months, ever since Christmas of last year in fact, a fire has ignited.
She has become an irrepressible force with a steely determination that has been so bitterly missed. Where once she would have accepted set-backs and conceded to being driven into stalemates by others, now grinding out victory after victory is her only priority.
Word has been travelling, people have been talking. She’s ruthless again, exhibiting flare, panache, ardour, grit and zeal in abundance. Comparisons are being made with her very self of yesteryear.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing. She’s had tough trips to the capital, mistreatment on the blue side of Manchester and set-backs upon visiting Humberside. Yet each time she has come out fighting, fervently, displaying a ghost within that hasn’t been present for years.
I find it hard to comprehend these changes, not that I’m complaining in the slightest. Those of which I have discussed this matter with put it down to a culmination of ingredients. Some allure to the theory of a Northern Irish tactician giving her life advice, others putting it down to a Uruguayan maestro teaching her magic native only of South America. Who knows?
The most daunting and perplexing part of all this however, is that her ever predictable tendency of letting myself and others down has been eradicated. Some weeks she could be on top of the world, silencing all critics and displaying performances that left everybody in the business talking. The next week however she’d keel over and let those, frankly inferior, walk all over her, subsequently taking maximum rewards. It seemed all the hard work being put in to be a success was almost always instantaneously undone. This however, has simply vanished.
As aforementioned, the ruthless streak is back. Around August time of last year she made clear her aspirations to return to Europe once more; many, perhaps quite naturally, greeted this with severe doubt. Given her previous inconsistencies who wouldn’t consider this goal to be a tad over ambitious? Conceivably I may have even doubted this myself, though there was never any reservation about supporting her all the way. She deserves to be there, no doubt. Europe was, after all, her old stomping ground – a place of very fond memories.
Fast forward seven months and here this unrecognisable character stands before me, with tickets to Europe so close to being booked. A whole host of people are starting to take note, many of those that heavily doubted her are now spouting unspeakable assertions that she can go all the way and achieve the greatest prize of all, something that has eluded her for many years. Naturally we still don’t speak of it much; focusing on the task-in-hand is paramount.
I must admit, she is handling it all very well. Over-confidence has not taken over, and rightly so. The achievements of late would perhaps leave most brimming with arrogance, particularly after a recent public humiliation of one of her oldest rivals over on the Mancunian way.
She remains focused, driven and above all, incredibly ambitious. In truth I believe I’m losing perception on what she really can achieve – right now it could be anybody’s guess.
I just hope that in reading this you can perhaps offer me some explanation on what kind of situation I am dealing with. It is remarkable, no doubt, yet difficult to fathom at the same time.
Oh, there is one thing I failed to mention about my bird, something that I perhaps should have thrown in at the beginning. This isn’t quite your conventional relationship.
She’s a Liverbird… and she’s having the season of her life.