There have been plenty of seasons as a Liverpool fan where excitement and the possibility of winning things has been well over before Easter.
When optimism and belief has been long replaced by “let’s just finish above Everton and buy loads of new lads in the summer”.
But this year, April finds us strong favourites to qualify for next year’s Champions League and decent dark horses to win this year’s. Of course, we’ll probably have to beat the best teams in England, Germany and Spain if we want to manage the latter.
But if it was easy, then Arsenal might have managed to win one by now. You can’t enter a strongman competition and then moan everyone is massive. You just have to find a way…
But Germany and Spain will have to wait, for now at least. First it is Manchester City, who warmed up for a trip against Liverpool’s best team by going to Liverpool’s second best team (just about) and absolutely battering them.
It was very generous of our neighbours to give them such a tough afternoon, wasn’t it?
Over well before half time, City were able to give star players a rest and throw Franny Lee and Colin Bell on, and Everton still only managed to get one back. Yeah cheers lad. You could have at least thrown a couple of tackles in.
Regardless of the lack of effort and ability of the opposition, City did look in ominous form for the half an hour or so they had to play for.
They are going to break nearly every record going this season, playing some of the best, most relentless football the league has ever seen. But, if they are expecting Wednesday to be anything like as easy as Saturday, they can think again.
First of all, we actually like our footballers, and it does wonderful freeing things to them like enabling them to play well. Also, instead of booing our own players off at half time, we’ll be booing the opposition.
Mostly Raheem Sterling, for reasons we’re not quite sure anymore, but it makes him play rubbish every time he comes to Anfield, so we’ll go with it. Overall, L4 will be the right kind of noisy on Wednesday night and Manchester City are going to have to find a better way of dealing with it than they have on previous visits, when it hasn’t been anywhere near as mad as it will be on this occasion.
The move on Manchester to reduce the impact of the Anfield atmosphere since the draw has been made has been quite amusing to see.
From an initial “it will be loud like, but we’ll be OK. I’m actually looking forward to it” to “our players have played and won in Beirut and the Baghdad before, they’ll be fine” to “what atmosphere? I watched them play Lincoln in the league cup four years ago, and it wasn’t even that loud!”
I can assure anyone visiting Anfield it will be very loud on Wednesday and the power of the Kop has made some very, very good players look very, very ordinary.
That is not to say it will be easy, of course. Manchester City will still have plenty of spells when they are on top, and there is also a small matter of a second leg at the Etihad Stadium, where there are rumours that all the home fans might lift some sky blue paper up at the same time. So, we don’t have the monopoly on intimidation.
No, the crowd is more of a leveller. It gives us hope when you’ve spent too long looking at the league table, with all those points and all those goals.
However, what I haven’t heard enough of is that it also makes the whole thing much more fun.
Football fans round the world will be tuning in as much to see what Anfield can do as to what the footballers can do.
In Liverpool, we are part of the spectacle. Part of the action. We’re not the type to sit quietly, we want to join in.
Everything about Wednesday night promises to be football as it should be. And everyone, regardless of who you support, should be looking forward to that.