It might not feel like it right now, but supporting Liverpool is easy. I’d go as far as to say it’s the least stressful club you could follow in the whole of the country.
Historically, there isn’t a more successful club in English football when it comes to winning major honours.
More recently, we’ve seen our team play in the Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup finals – plus the Community Shield – under the current manager. And win all but one of them.
That’s the same manager who is also the only Liverpool manager to win the Premier League trophy (out of eight that have tried) and the only Liverpool manager to have a win percentage of over 60 percent since John McKenna – who managed the team for 36 games in the Second Division in 1895/96.
‘Honest John’ led Liverpool to promotion, which is another thing we’ve never had to worry about, unless you’re a pensioner who can recall the last promotion-winning campaign of 1961/62.
And what about all those relegation battles we’ve endured? Can you remember how you felt knowing the Mighty Reds might go down on the last day of the season or had already gone?
Of course you can’t – unless you were an Anfield regular in the early 1950s – because it has never been a concern.
Since winning that promotion in 1962, Liverpool have never finished lower than eighth.
In a league widely regarded as the most competitive top-flight division in world football, our team hasn’t even finished in the bottom two of the top half.
Even if that run ends in 2023 after 60 years, it’s one of the most underrated achievements in football.
Ah, but we are Liverpool. Achievements come in the colour silver and nothing else. We’ve only become the most successful club because our standards and expectations are so high.
If you are first you are first, if you are second you are nothing.
Bill Shankly’s mantra should always drive our club on to aspire to be the best.
I’m on board with that and it is ultimately what is behind the motivation of most Reds who want to see changes from ownership to midfielders, but Liverpool didn’t become the best by trying to sink the club in negativity first.
In a season when the team is far from what it could and should be, so too is some of the support for it.
There’s a clear – and predominantly online – culture of constantly belittling certain individuals or aspects of the club to sway opinions and suit agendas. It’s both toxic and unnecessary.
Personally, I think the Reds need to sign two midfielders, but making that point by incessantly ripping into the midfielders we already have serves no good purpose.
It isn’t just a Liverpool thing – a decade ago Real Madrid fans were lambasting Luka Modric (who Marca readers voted as the worst signing of 2012) and calling for a new midfielder to be signed – but it is a depressing reflection of what ‘support’ has become.
Supporting a team will always be inward looking. When the Reds score a bad goal how many Kopites do you see or hear criticising the way it was defended by the opposition. None, because who cares?
But if the Reds concede a bad goal the pitchforks are lit.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with criticism when a team is underperforming. It’s a natural reaction when you care and well-timed criticism can even have a galvanising effect.
Excuse me while I pick this name up from the floor, but I was Alan Hansen’s ghostwriter for a decade between 2002 and 2012.
There were plenty of times when the Anfield crowd got grumpy with what they saw on the pitch, but Hansen always insisted to me that when he was playing and the Kop let the team know that they were getting complacent or underperforming, the shouts from the terraces were the kick up the arse they needed.
But that’s where it ended. The Anfield crowd picked and chose its moments to crack the whip to get the team over the line. What they never did was incessantly deride players for 90 minutes.
In contrast now, we are now in a much better era on the pitch yet whether it’s a matchday or not, and if Liverpool aren’t underperforming as they currently are, there is an incessant barrage of online criticism, negativity and wild overreaction.
Social media posts full of extreme, attention-seeking, fickle and often contradictory views have become the norm.
Seriously? Effectively that would make Liverpool less attractive to play for while at the same time spending transfer funds on compensation packages for the manager, his staff and whoever replaces him.
At least think it through.
My point here is not so much about the criticism of FSG, the manager, the tactics, the midfield, the defence, the forwards, the transfer business or whatever other valid criticism is rattling cages, but the frequency and obsessive nature of it from some Reds.
Accidental Partridge alert, but if you’re fuming because your old dog has shat on the carpet again you might fire out an annoyed tweet, possibly with an image of the disgraced canine in question, calling him a knobhead.
But are you going to mention it on Twitter multiple times a day for the next six months to six years until your much-derided faithful friend has finally been replaced by a younger pup with more energy and a better pedigree?
I get it to a certain extent. I work in an industry where views, likes, page impressions and all the rest ultimately make money.
Social media has allowed countless fan accounts and websites to grow and provide income streams. Hell, I even know one Liverpool supporter who doesn’t have his own podcast.
But are we really at the point where supporting the Reds now consists of arguing amongst ourselves on Twitter every day until Elon Musk charges by the tweet?
Everyone has their own agendas in football and the transfer and opinion industries are primarily fueled by teams underperforming and thus needing new personnel, but at times it feels like escapism is now needing a break from LFC by focusing on the other things in life rather than the other way around.
Nobody should be criticised for having views on a subject they are passionate about, but the constant carping, whining and deriding by some Reds gives the perception that following Liverpool is a joyless ordeal for the self-entitled.
In reality, it’s as easy and stressless as it gets.
* Chris McLoughlin is Senior Writer for Reach Sport, publishers of the Liverpool FC Matchday Programme and monthly magazine.