The much-discussed guard of honour Liverpool will form for champions Chelsea may not fill Reds fan with too much joy, but it would be shameful if it didn’t happen, writes Henry Jackson.
Us as Liverpool fans would be lying if we said that Sunday’s imminent guard of honour won’t be pretty tough to take.
There has been much talk over whether it would take place or not, given the bitter recent rivalry between the two clubs, but it would be embarrassing if Liverpool decided against it. Thankfully they haven’t.
Chelsea may not be remotely likeable, whether it be their style of play, manager, captain or seemingly plastic supporters, but they are worthy title winners who have been dominant all season. That demands great respect.
If you know your history, you'd know Chelsea did a guard of honour for champions Liverpool at Anfield in 1965/66. Protocol & tradition.
— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarrett) May 3, 2015
The Blues themselves have had to do a guard of honour before, for champions Man United in 2007, while Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had done the same two years earlier.
Even Barcelona did it for Real Madrid in 2008, which speaks volumes. It’s not as if Liverpool are in a unique, unbearable position that no other team has ever experienced.
It’s also worth noting that, when Liverpool won the old First Division in 1966, Chelsea‘s travelling supporters showed civility in applauding the Reds at Anfield.
The current animosity that has existed between the two since those epic Champions League clashes in 2005 may not have existed back then, but that is completely irrelevant.
The guard of honour has nothing to do with hatred between fans, angry words between managers and past results; it is all about players showing respect to their peers.
Could it work in Liverpool’s favour?
There is an argument to say that the pre-match niceties could actually act as a catalyst in the Reds’ pursuit of a positive result in west London this weekend.
It will hurt those Liverpool players to see their rivals receiving such adulation, especially just 12 months after many of them came so close to a maiden Premier League title. There will be undoubted anger in the minds of some.
The Stamford Bridge showdown is one that Brendan Rodgers’ side simply have to win to have any chance of a top-four finish, and hopefully the guard of honour will fire them up and inspire the Merseysiders to an unlikely victory.
Beneficial in the long-term?
Perhaps this is just a case of trying to take too many positives out of a negative situation, but Sunday could even have a profound effect on Liverpool’s array of young players.
It will highlight just what an achievement it is to win the Premier League, and will surely inspire them to: a) never want to be in that position again, and b) get a taste of that glory themselves in the coming years. At Liverpool, hopefully.
The likes of Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, Emre Can, Alberto Moreno, Lazar Markovic and numerous others are still barely out of their teens, while even so-called experienced stars like Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson and Mamadou Sakho are not yet over 25.
It would be great to use the day to their advantage in the coming years, seeing it as a moment that spurred them on to future glories.
Take the hit and move on
Sunday may well end up being a day to forget. The guard of honour will be bad enough to stomach, but defeat would be even more wretched in the grand scheme of things. Especially if United have beaten Crystal Palace the day before.
Regardless of the outcome of the game, however, the most important thing is that Liverpool show respect and humility; something the club has always prided itself on over the years.
Would Chelsea have done the same the other way round? Who knows. They are not a club who natually ooze class, especially if their behaviour in minute silences in the past are anything to go by.
Regardless of this, it’s just vital that Liverpool don’t stoop to anything lower than their impeccably high standards when it comes to sporting behaviour.
Accept the mocking taunts from Chelsea fans, grimace as Steven Gerrard applauds John Terry, then move on. Maybe one day it will be Liverpool on the receiving end of a guard of honour.
Do you think Liverpool should give Chelsea a guard of honour on Sunday? Let us know in the comments below.