There was something utterly eerie about Monday night’s game. Has a Liverpool match ever meant so little?
There was something apt about it taking place in an empty stadium. There was an entirely hollow aura to it.
There was also something symbolic that it was Leeds United who we were up against, in our first league visit to Elland Road for 17 years. Liverpool and Leeds, two teams to have shared a sporadically electric rivalry, be it Shankly vs. Revie, or Houllier vs. O’Leary. Given the chance to breathe, Klopp vs. Bielsa should be able to join that pantheon of legendary head-to-heads.
It was something that offered the opportunity to consider football mortality; I have occasionally pondered what post-apocalyptic footballing life would hold. Somewhere, deep within my soul, I’ve always felt that there would be a tipping point in my active, match-going support of Liverpool.
One day they would alienate themselves beyond reach. Like many, I’ve put up with a lot of football’s modern excesses, basically due to falling for the team I love during a simpler era.
On Monday, I quantified that the Super League might not be all that bad. The glass half full part of me sees it no more than a Champions League 2.0, with the clubs seizing power of attorney from the possessive grasp of UEFA, a governing body that have long been manoeuvring its flagship tournament into a Super League of their making.
Added to this, when you throw in an inability to shed tears for a Premier League that ripped apart 102 years of Football League history to set up its own breakaway league and not so long ago mooted the proposal of a 39th game, then this is an uncivilised war in which no sides can truly claim the moral high ground.
Only the supporters can do that.
While I’ll never be able to relinquish my love of the club, my conscience and sense of ethics has a limit. I’ve seen many changes to both Liverpool FC and football over the course of more than four decades of observing it, some for the better, but many for the worse. On Tuesday morning at 4am, I was wide awake as it played across my mind.
I have a season ticket renewal sat in my inbox that currently does not feel worthy of my attention or money.
As I lay awake the things that circulated my mind included how and where I would get my football kicks should Liverpool have finally pushed me too far. I can’t transfer my support and passion for one club to another as the existing bond is too deep. It has personal and familial elements to it but nor can I imagine a life without the game as I’m a lover of football in general.
While international football is a no-go zone, maybe there is a future in non-league groundhopping or continental football weekends away…
Regardless of the outcome of the next four months, football is fractured once again. The new reality is that either the Super League launches or an agreement is reached with UEFA to launch a similar system under their umbrella. There will be no U-turn forthcoming.
Thirty years from now it will likely be a global Super League that is in the making. Every motivation by those in charge is to eliminate the weakest elements to strengthen their financial hand and do so by offering the little people of football a ‘generous’ divorce package.
This mission for bigger, better and faster will never cease; this isn’t a brand-new phenomenon. As I previously intimated, football has chased the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow ever since professionalism came to what was once-upon-a-time an amateur game.
As the Liverpool supporter in me screams out in frustration, the football lover in general that he flatshares with says let the greedy bastards have their double helping of cake. They’ll not find it as easy to digest as they envisage.
The Liverpool supporter within me is glass half full, while the football lover, in general, is a raging cynic in search of lost beauty in the game. The Liverpool supporter within is distracted by incidentals, the pretty patterns played out on the pitch and is preoccupied with the people-watching potential of its surrounding areas, something for the inner-child who is largely without a care in the world.
This is offset by the general football lover, who likes to think he has deciphered the Matrix of football and is roundly ashamed of what it has come to, despite being able to chart the roots of today’s rotten harvest all the way back to childhood.
Monday night at Elland Road was a stark event, from the t-shirts partially in support of a flawed Champions League left to be discovered by a Liverpool manager whose heart appears to be breaking, to the decision to remove the banners from the Kop. Jurgen Klopp has said that he’ll see what he can do.
A wonderful man at the centre of an impossible situation that can’t end well. A return to the Bundesliga and home must be feeling pretty tempting right now despite it being a fairly run, yet closed shop, what with Bayern Munich on the brink of a ninth successive title. Futile as it is, I wouldn’t blame him.
Klopp and the supporters might be Liverpool’s only genuine hope of saving it from itself.
Next up… Who the hell knows?