John Gibbons: Have all the ‘bantz’ you want because I’m loving this season

Our Liverpool writer John Gibbons doesn’t get the negativity around the club’s title challenge and believes neutral fans should be enjoying the race…

It’s official, Liverpool are no longer top of the league. As ever when something you dread happens, it doesn’t feel quite as bad as you imagined afterwards.

Liverpool still have a game in hand, of course, so their fate is very much in their own hands. It also helps that Manchester City have been looking less than invincible recently too.

I mean they beat Everton on Wednesday night but, you know, it’s Everton. But, it’s only a week since they lost away at Newcastle, so they shouldn’t get too smug about Liverpool drawing at West Ham.

It also should be remembered that The Reds were never meant to be top of the league at this stage anyway.

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Early in November when Liverpool were sitting in third, albeit still unbeaten, and the news was full of Manchester City’s FFP allegations, there were plenty of articles written about how Manchester City had made the league uncompetitive.

The implication being that the rest of the league were unable to cope with the spending power of Man City and were all playing for runner up.

When Liverpool beat Bournemouth on December 8th, with Manchester City playing the next day, the commentator described The Reds as going “temporarily top of the league” much to the annoyance of Liverpool fans watching.

Did anyone say Manchester City were “temporarily top” after winning last night? Despite the fact Liverpool will go back top with just a point against Bournemouth on Saturday.

I seriously doubt it.

Maybe we should be less sensitive to these things. But, the implication was clearly that Liverpool wouldn’t be there for long.

He was wrong, of course. Manchester City lost to Chelsea the next day and Liverpool were top for the next two months – and now we are not.

Manchester City have clawed back a seven-point lead partly by beating us at the Etihad and partly, it needs pointing out, by playing a game more.

Liverpool fans who haven’t seen their team win a league title in nearly 30 years, or if you are younger than that, ever, are understandably getting a bit nervous:

  • About whether we are one or two players short.
  • About whether there is enough experience of winning in the squad.
  • About whether the team from Manchester might turn out to be just too good.

However, if the fans are panicking the players and manager seem very calm.

They weren’t getting carried away when we were relentlessly winning and they’re not getting carried away whilst we have drawn a couple not playing well.

Any talk of a crisis at Anfield has been met with bafflement from within.

A recognition that is was always going to be tough when you have not one, but several teams going at record-breaking pace so deep into the season.

Only one of these teams can with the title. The other two will be dismissed as ‘bottlers’, even if they end up breaking their own records for points in a season, or points for a runner up.

Which is sad really, as this whole title race should be enjoyed by all football fans, and those taking part in it commended for the unbelievable, unprecedented quality.

Surely this is better than the procession we had last year, where no one could keep up with Manchester City?

This season two teams have, yet it seems people can’t wait to slag them off.

I don’t know whether it is the modern football fan or the “bantz” society, but its a shame. But, Liverpool can’t control the outside noise, just what they do.

The fans can be positive off the field and choose to enjoy a, quite frankly, far too rare season when people are talking about them being possibilities for the title at all.

The team can be positive on Saturday and go back to the top of the table. Then all relax and watch Manchester City play Chelsea on Sunday – one of four teams to beat them in the league this season.

February is going to be great as a Liverpool fan. Winnable home games in the league, a trip to Old Trafford and Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

A genuine chance at the two biggest trophies and a squad who believe anything is possible. You can choose to enjoy that or not.

I can’t wait for Saturday 3pm and to watch The Reds again.

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