Andrew Gillooley, Liverpool. April 14th, 2014:
We asked them to ‘Make Us Dream’. Us Liverpool fans love to dream. We have been doing it for years. Occasionally those dreams have come true. We like it when that happens. This Liverpool team though heard what we asked and has said no. They are not interested in dreaming. They have come to do. They have come to win.
Steven Gerrard’s face at the end of one of the most poignant games in Liverpool’s recent history was not that of a man who is dreaming. It was the face of a man who, despite overwhelming emotional burden is focused and determined. Steven Gerrard was not born to dream. Steven Gerrard was born to do. The banner in the Kop may have captured the sentiment of the crowd perfectly, but this Liverpool team are one step ahead of us.
Before we had dared to dream, they already knew what they were made of. Signs have been there since the beginning of the season. We were almost too blinded by our need to dream to spot them. When Sturridge scored the first of his twenty goals this season and Mignolet produced the penalty save to earn us our first three points, few of us expected this season to take us on the journey that it has. Those brilliant boys in red though knew they were good enough. Daniel Sturridge backs himself, Raheem Sterling has absolutely no fear, Suarez has no doubt that he is at a level that only an elite group of footballers will ever reach. And Steven Gerrard, Liverpool captain and arguably our greatest ever player knows that he has the strength of will to shoulder the burden of our ambitions and make them a reality.
More important than any title challenge is the fight for justice for the 96 Liverpool supporters who so cruelly didn’t make it home from Hillsborough 25 years ago. The Liverpool players and fans served up the kind of tribute that they deserved, both on and off the pitch (special thanks to the players and fans of Manchester City for the part they played in this). An immaculately observed moment of silence turned attention to the resilience and dignity of those that have fought to ensure that the 96 are remembered, and that those responsible for their deaths and the cover ups that followed are brought to justice. It was a moment at odds with the great Bill Shankly’s comments that football is more important than life or death. It isn’t. The rest of the day though would follow the Shankly blueprint to the letter. Here is a club that embraces its past while walking toward a bright new future.
Top of the league by Christmas and with impressive performances at Manchester City and Chelsea, some of us began to dream earlier than others. The seed was sown as I sat in the Etihad, delighted with our approach, disappointed by what seemed like an unfortunate and undeserved defeat. It wasn’t until we beat Everton though that I truly began to believe. Not just to say that I believed. But to believe. This was the point when I began telling people we would win the league. Liverpool fans nodded. Many were ahead of me in thinking this way. They had already begun to dream. Non Liverpool fans scoffed. They doubted. They aren’t laughing anymore.
This Liverpool team are out of this world. They play a brand of football that would bring joy to fans of any era, anywhere in the world. They are talented, exceptionally drilled, tactically adaptable. More important than any of that, they smell blood. And when this Liverpool smell blood, they are like a pack of rabid dogs. They sensed that Manchester City were rattled in the opening 20 minutes, they could have sat behind a goal lead. They don’t know how to do that. They keep coming. Manchester City are a fantastic football team too though, and they had Liverpool on the ropes. Liverpool could have lost. We’d have been unable to have any complaints. They’d given their all. They had made us dream again. They weren’t interested in dreaming. They do. Coutinho scores. 3-2. We can dream. They move on to Norwich.
‘This does not fucking slip now’. We move on to Norwich. The fans dream. The players head back to Melwood and attention turns to how they will dispatch Norwich next weekend. The players, led by Gerrard will knuckle down and concentrate on how best to unleash their brilliance on the fourth worst team in the League. We might be thinking about Chelsea, Palace and Newcastle. Liverpool aren’t going to be distracted. Gerrard has them by the scruff of their necks. His desire is infectious, he channels the dreams of 45,000 fans onto the players around him. Lesser men would crumble. Gerrard isn’t interested in crumbling. He wants this.
Yesterday I forgot a lot of this. I was confident going into the game, surprised by the lack of nerves. Five second half minutes changed all that. At 62 minutes I was a wreck. To have led 2-0 and been pegged back, by a brilliant Manchester City team was too much for me. Would we ever get a better chance of this? It took a sliding David Silva to snap me out of it. I’ve seen this before. Like Eidur Gudjohnsen’s miss at Anfield in 2005 we had been let off in the biggest way possible. At that point we were winning that game. At that point I was dreaming again, while those on the pitch were busy going about doing what they had to do to win.
With the fulltime whistle came an outpouring of emotion rarely seen. Even in Vancouver, at 7.30am the noise was overwhelming. Tears were shed. Grown men held each other for longer than would normally seem appropriate. Anfield may be 4,500 miles away but there were Kops all over the world yesterday. ‘It’s not where you are, it’s where you’re at’. And we’re top of the league with four football matches to go. And we’re dreaming. Liverpool Football Club meanwhile, is doing.