If football is supposed to be the new religion then consider my allegiance with the church wafer thin. I’m that close to excommunication. My God has offered me very little to be pleased with: scandals, usury, censorship. Worst of all, the church I belong to has disgraced itself more than most.
It is embarrassing watching the lad Luis Beelzebub killing the good name of our fine organisation (conveniently forgetting the other pall-bearers we’ve had over the years in Souness, Grobbelaar, Dicks, Ruddock, Collymore, Diouf, Pennant, Bellamy and Carroll). With him the words of our church are empty as a, well, a church, but without him we wouldn’t even have a church … or would we? I pray that he will mend his ways, but mend them somewhere else, in someone else’s service.
I started regular (virtual) attendance in the 08/09 season having ‘retired’ from playing the season before, thus freeing up my weekends. It was a feast and I was sitting on the table gorging myself as we showed ourselves to be second best in the country. Our high priest even pointed to your emperor and said ‘he has no clothes’ and the emperor said to the priest, ‘why do you look at the speck of dust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your eye.’ Or something. It might have been the other way round, either way it was highly entertaining.
I rubbed my palms together at the start of the next season, had a little chuckle and whispered to myself ‘now let’s see who God really favours.’ It soon became apparent that it was I who was worshipping a false idol; we were cast out of the Champions League, confined to entertaining dreams and clutching at promises of redemption.
After a period of turmoil and boardroom pestilence, we got our young fire and brimstone preacher back, our king of kings, only he was old and had lost touch with how much things cost. Still the football flowed like a mid-price wine and we were happy singing the old songs again. Nostalgia does funny things to a person.
It wasn’t enough for the real leaders of the church, for, as in all aspects of life, the money men wanted a bigger return on their ‘investment’. They took a shine to a new leader who came down with a tablet on which were written many clever things that threw the whole tactical system wide open. He was educated in trigonometry, special numbers and words. Like all good churches you need to have a preacher with a true interpretation and iron belief, one who can speak to the youth of today in a language they can understand. lolz.
In the season before, creating chances was never a problem, but we had taken a horse to water only to find out it was a donkey. It was frustrating, but never boring. However, seeing the hard work and the skill is all well and good but there comes a time when just watching the labour becomes tiring. I wanted to taste the fruits not chomp down afterbirth.
All this was to change with the Book of Brendan. The first step of our metamorphosis looked like a step back; the ball rarely went up the field, it just got played between the defenders and the keeper because they’re the ones who know how to pass best, right? To make matters worse, when we took a risk we were punished. We played with trepidation, no one wanted to gamble and support the false 9 and we sunk faster than a cat in a concrete bathing suit.
‘Onwards young soldiers!’ We cried as the next stage of our transfiguration arose – we began to develop wings. Sterling was improving and Downing had caught a second wind, their confidence gave us a new belief and a pleasing, probing passing style was married with well worked counter attacks (not unseen in the Dalglish mk2 era). However, when teams cunningly sat back we returned to possession-based play and however many times we encircled it, we couldn’t break through the wall. Then around Christmas time, the new messiah arrived, one Philippe Coutinho (Suarez wasn’t the messiah after all, just a very naughty boy). This code-breaker took pressure off what seemed to be the proverbial square peg in our new system; Gerrard. He became reborn, a phoenix from the flames, he even stopped hitting the first man with his corners! It was a great finish, a final flourish and we know that we will get better and better.
For next season, I dream of us taking on the Goliaths and this time beating them, then taking on the David’s and beating them too. I believe we can do it, we have a plan, I am born again, I have renewed my vows, I … oh, Suarez is still at the club is he? What the hell … L.I.V.E…