I have a few social media rituals – ye’ know, certain status updates saved for certain days – and one of those is used on the day the fixtures are released. It goes like this: “Just critically analysed the fixture list game by game and added up our finishing points tally. #LFC will finish on 114 points. It’s on!” A tongue in cheek retort at those who take great joy in criticising the Anfield acolytes with their ‘it’s our year’ jibes, but also a tribute to the innocent optimism of a football supporter surveying the scene, eyeing up what lies ahead with a glint in your eye and hope in your heart.
Surely we’re all guilty at the start of a new football season? A rub of the chin and the launch of a grin, misty eyed dreams of our chosen teams, glory in May walking up Wembley Way… and then you’re two nil down at half time on the first day. Reality is cruel, man. I don’t really get caught up in the whole pre-season frenzy. While Marko Grujic looped that outrageous long range header into Barcelona’s net at Wembley, I was standing with my mates down the Pier Head watching Shellsuit perform an experimental electronic set at the ‘Liverpool Loves’ waterfront festival.
Because following football is intense. Constantly scrutinising and weighing up the incoming information, with one eye on the football news page, one eye on the fixture list and also trying to memorise the league table positioning and points… the last thing I want to do is to get thoroughly involved in pre-season as well. Swerve that. The summer is my respite – a well earned break away from the beautiful game. Whether we’re snotting Barca’ 4-0 – or getting snotted by Mainz 4-0 – norrarsed. For me, it’s all about that first league game – that’s when football is really back.
So, here we are, two sleeps away from the official start. All red eyes are fiercely fixed on the Sunday 4pm kick off at the Emirates Stadium: “Ding Dong the Reds are back in town.” Hopes should be high, but in all honesty, I’m not seeing anything from our current squad that is making me salivate with excitement. I like what I’ve seen of Sadio Mané and think he’ll deffo’ be the one to get us shifting towards the edge of our seats, particularly as Mr Sturridge is looking likely to be out injured for our opening games. Nothing says ‘football is back’ more accurately than ‘Sturridge is injured’…
Obviously, there is exhilaration at the thought of Klopp’s first full season with some of his own hand picked players to actually see what he’s made of as a football manager, as opposed to a footballer motivator, which is ultimately what his role was last season. Will Mané become the new Kop hero? Is Mingolet destined to become the perennial Kop zero? So many questions, with possibly the most asked being ‘where’s our new left back?’. And are we to persevere with Alberto Moreno? Last season was bad enough, but this season he’s back with a friggin’ man bun… Christ, give us strength! I’m going into the 2016/2017 season slightly pessimistic and deflated, but my prediction of where we’ll finish? First, of course.
To conclude, and also to use another of my stupid annual social media updates, here’s my opening day one: “Happy New Season everyone. May your lager be cold, your trainees stay clean and your eleven heroes give it their all.” Have fun folks.
Pic courtesy UEFA/Getty