John Gibbons: Liverpool fans need to enjoy this title challenge more

The nerves around Anfield have been clear to all of late and John Gibbons feels it’s time Liverpool fans loosened up a bit…

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I’ve pretty much got over the Merseyside derby now. Hearing the Everton supporters wildly support a draw on the full-time whistle wasn’t much fun, nor was looking at the league table on Monday morning and realising we definitely weren’t top of it any more.

No game in hand to draw on, just second in the table by a point, having led by five. It would have been a sobering realisation, had I not drunk so heavily to get over it.

But, now we have to look forward. First to Burnley on Sunday and generally to a title challenge that very few tipped us for, but now criticise us for not leading.

Having spent years saying “we just want to be in contention when it matters”, now we are and many supporters have lost their heads. Which seems crazy, because these are the seasons which are meant to be fun.

We are still in the Champions League, with a trip to Bayern Munich next week and remain well placed to end a 29-year wait for a league title. Surely, it’s what we want?

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Andy Robertson certainly agrees. He was released by his boyhood club Celtic as a teenager and relegated with Hull before joining Liverpool. So, when The Anfield Wrap wanted some perspective on Liverpool’s current situation, it was Andy we went to speak to. Talking to us yesterday at Anfield Robertson said:

“Talk about pressure and ‘bottling’… Relegation, that’s pressure. I’ve said it in interviews before, people lose their job, players lose half their wages, managers get sacked more often than not. That’s not what this is. We’re going for a title, we’re going for trophies, it’s something we should enjoy and it shouldn’t be something that we fear.

“You know how hard it is to win a Premier League. We’ve got nine games and we’ve put ourselves in a great position.

Some people that are talking about it would pay a lot of money to put their team in the same position as us.

He’s right, we are in a great position. Of Liverpool’s nine remaining games, five of them are at home, and fifteen points will go a long way to helping overcome Manchester City.

The supporters need to decide if they want to be a help or a hindrance in those games. One group who are determined to do everything they can to support the players on the pitch are Spion Kop 1906, a collection of supporters mostly responsible for the banners on The Kop. They sent out a rallying cry before the Bournemouth home game recently, which had come on the back of two disappointing draws and flat crowds.

Supporters and players responded and Liverpool won 3-0. On that game, Robertson said, “After the game all the lads knew it made a big difference, even from when we were going out to warm up there were a lot more fans in the ground than usual.

“When we play against Man United or when we play against Everton, or when it’s the Champions League, it’s a bit easier to create a special atmosphere and get up. It’s probably the games on Saturday at 3pm when we need it the most, when people maybe don’t think (it), and I think we all pulled together in that game.

“We’ve only got nine games left and half of them will be at home so if we can create an atmosphere that will make even a small difference to the lads then it will stand us in good stead.”

So, supporting the team helps the team. Who knew? But it’s also a lot more fun and that is what we are meant to be in it for after all. My memories of the Bournemouth game, aside from the atmosphere and the performance, was just that it was more of a laugh. Early goals help of course, but so do a mindset.

The mindset of ‘I work all week and this is how I choose to spend my weekends, it’s expensive and so I’m going to have fun’. Andy again:

“I’ve been a fan, I’ve supported Celtic and I had a season ticket for 16 years. When I went to games I wanted to enjoy it, I didn’t want to sit and be tense every time the other team crossed the halfway line.

You want to just enjoy going and watching your team, enjoy the chase, enjoy us trying to go for a Premier League.

Andy never promised us that Premier League title yesterday. He did promise us he would give us everything he had though. Let’s make sure by the end of the season we can all say the same. No matter how small our role is.

* Read Andy Robertson’s full Anfield Wrap interview here.

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