by Kieran Davies
In Britain, supporting your football team is more like a tribal passion. You’d walk through burning coals if it meant your team profiting from the feat. When they lose, you take the abuse from opposing fans while still fighting your corner all be it in vain post defeat. When they win, you celebrate like it was you who scored the goal. When you beat your bitter rivals, you bask in the glory like William Wallace looking over the defeated English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Non-football fans struggle to comprehend the actions, but they don’t understand. Your team’s ground is your coliseum, the atmosphere electric. When you stand there following your team it feels like you’re home, this is where you were always meant to be.
Getting tickets for these big games becomes more and more of an impossibility to obtain so more often than not, us football fans have to make the most of Sky’s offering on the game. We shout at the TV like pressing the ‘interactive’ button has propelled us to the touchline alongside the manager. Like the players can hear your views on why this isn’t working and what they need to do to turn the game around. If the performance isn’t up to scratch, remote controls fly across the room like synchronised trapeze artists and the air is more blue than if Roy Chubby Brown was to get a parking ticket from an illegal immigrant who’d blagged a job as a traffic warden. When it comes to the end of the season, trophies pale to insignificance, as it’s how many times you beat your bitter rivals that will be talked about most!
The weekend of the game, you’re drowning in excitement, anticipation and a gut wrenching fear of things not going your way. You dream about Sunday evening looking at your Facebook feed, wondering whether THEIR fans have all lost internet connectivity at the same time, all is quiet. The occasional hardcore fan posting feeds reminiscing of better times hoping to take some of the shine of their rivals win. Trying to mock them for only ‘showing up’ on social media after a victory, while wondering when the spotlight will burn out from above you. Why didn’t he put that chance away? How did the ref miss that blatant penalty? This is a conspiracy! Your mind scratches around for answers while taunting you with missed chances and pivotal moments of the game that could have gone the other way on another day. Text messages flood in from friends who mock, memes fill your wall reminding you of your defeat in every way imaginable from Jean Luc Picard to your team’s players. Not this game, not this one, this one we MUST win. Any other, just not this one!
The morning of the game, the sun is shining, optimism is high. This is going to be a good day. You’ve got your ‘lucky top’ on, the beer is in the fridge chilling. There seems to be an acceptance with these days that it’s fine to start drinking in the morning without judgement. The pre match build up just builds the tension even more, the girlfriend jokes about ‘how funny it would be if the TV broke or the satellite dish became faulty’ not realising this isn’t Downton Abbey, it’s not Sex In The City and its certainly not Dr Who……..this is football, this is rivalry, this makes or breaks this weekend. Certainly something not to be taken lightly. As you go through a whole rollercoaster of emotions through the game, passion, anger, disbelief, adrenalin, massive highs and hopefully not too many lows to the innocent bystander this seems over the top, but this is why we love the game, this is why we love the rivalry, that chance of getting one over on your rivals is a gamble well worth taking!
This weekend sees one of the oldest rivalries rears its head as Liverpool take on Manchester United at Anfield. Van Gaal spent big in the summer and his big signings haven’t really impressed too much this season and go into the game not really causing much fear in the Liverpool camp. For it is Brendan Rodgers’ side who go into this game buoyant, undefeated in 2015 and making big strides towards the top four. In fact victory over the old enemy would see Liverpool return to the fourth place they crave for Champions League qualification. It will be a special atmosphere at Anfield and will be daunting for their opponents. While their first aim will be to silence the home crowd, it is for Liverpool to rouse them with attacking, flowing football. With Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling, Lallana and Sturridge all linking well, it will be a stern test for the Old Trafford back line. Liverpool have seemed more solid with a more composed and confident Simon Mignolet between the posts. While the centre backs still look like a unicycle enthusiast on his maiden journey while on the ball, clean sheets have been regular.
This will be a tight affair in my eyes as much as I would love to see Liverpool dominate from start to finish but form books often go out the window in these games and it’s all down to a will to want to win more and taking chances that come your way. This game won’t decide who finishes in the top four, but it will certainly be a deciding factor. For United a win puts a five point gap between the sides, a Liverpool win means the reds replacing United in fourth spot and momentum with them. Let’s hope the officials don’t end up deciding the game and it’s a game with non stop attacking football.