Anfield is no longer a fortress, but more an echo chamber of suspense.
That’s not to poke holes in the passionate fanbase that Liverpool Football Club clearly has – their matchday antics and displays are second to none in England – but the weight of failure is now more of a burden than the prospect of success is a motivation.
In recent home games in the Premier League, and again last night, the air of tension is so notable.
It’s hard to blame supporters, but affirmative action probably needs to be taken to avoid any on-pitch reflection of that worry. Players are fairly dull. Regardless of an atmosphere at any given game, they’ll nip onto Twitter afterwards to thank fans for their help in securing points.
Generally, top-level athletes drown out everything from around them and focus on the task at hand, so it shouldn’t really have an effect.
But, there are exceptions to that rule and this is one of them.
You see, the trajectory of Liverpool Football Club is a funny one. It’s hard to envisage that any club in the world who have the spending power that they do has such a gap in the psyche of an institution.
Of course, we’re speaking about the length of time between top tier English titles. The previous success in the 1970/80s has seen them reserve the right of entitlement.
But the barren period of 30 years has been the catalyst for the progression of Scouse footballing emotion. First, there was unfamiliarity. Then, there was frustration. That was followed by anxiety, dread and acceptance.
Acceptance only arrived because of previous poor performances and average morale, though.
Now, with the front three of Mane, Salah and Firmino, Liverpool have every right to hope and even expect. But, even big Champions League nights have become a burden.
They’ve won a European Cup since their last league title and been in three different finals. It might be the biggest club tournament in the world, but it isn’t the biggest club tournament on the Anfield Road.
And with every passing minute, anxiety levels rise in the stands. Players will begin to dread home games.
Liverpool fans have to do more to bypass their own insecurities.
Every member of the near-miss in 2013-14, bar Jordan Henderson, is gone from a potential starting XI – so they’ve effectively got no excuses for a relapse. Their success can’t be hampered by previous failures unless that’s carried over by the ever-presents – the fans.
Now, more than ever, fans have a part to play in a season for their club.
Reds supporters have longed for an age for a manager who has the character to overcome the mindset of the club he’s joining. They now have it.
Liverpool fans have longed for an age for a team that is worthy of lifting a Premier League crown.
Both of those things are now a reality, but their own insecurities are the biggest threat to their football club achieving the feat that will redefine an entire generation’s perspective on Liverpool as a footballing entity.
Psychology is becoming more important in sport now. Anfield over the next three months will be as good as a case study as you could ever wish for.