Editorial – Issue 55, Winter 2001
By Steve Kelly
From Issue 55, Winter 2001
Fanzines are like football matches: some you win, some you lose. Take issue 53 for example. “Hey, you know that Houllier fella? Well, despite his Treble he’s not everything he’s cracked up to be you know”. Then, on the weekend you’re selling this literary masterpiece, the man almost dies. Made us look right berks – I don’t know, some people have no consideration for others. Issue 54 came out when we were top with a game in hand, but it was full of “oooo, I don’t know about this lot y’know, things aren’t as great as everyone thinks”-type reservations. Got that one right, eh?
So welcome to 55, and where the hell are we? A lot of the articles, and virtually all of the diary, are full of “Christ, I can’t believe how bad we are” moaning and groaning – which would have been a fairly accurate summary of December and January except I’m writing this ten days into February and to say that the landscape has changed is putting it mildly. I can sort of see how O’Leary would get a bit sniffy about the 4-0. We got the goal, held onto the lead, one great pass and it’s 2-0. Game over, with two more goals the sweetest icing there could be. But try, just dare try and be cynical about Ipswich 0 Liverpool 6. You can’t. They were a form side, expected to be a handful, and we just wiped the floor with them. They were taken apart by a Liverpool team full of purpose, ingenuity, pace, power. Clinical perhaps, but it was breathtaking and exactly what eternal whingers like myself have been begging for over what seems like years – a team that plays The Liverpool Way.
And yes, I do know what a ‘false dawn’ is, thank you very much. For months now, the team’s presence at or near the top of the table has become almost incidental, as though we expected it anyway. No, something else is at stake here, something just as important. At least once in our lives, we’ve all quoted the great LFC mythology of “first is first and second is nowhere” “winning is the only thing” “we exist to win trophies”, but not one of us has ever carried that creed through to its logical limit: “oh, so you’re NOT first? You haven’t won? There’s no trophies??!? Fuck this for a lark, I’m off………glory glory Man United, glory glory” etc etc. No, it’s also about how you win, how you conduct yourself, how you don’t go chasing after the next big thing because that’s what everybody else seems to do. You were born a Liverpool fan, or you made a decision to be a Liverpool fan. Either way, there’s no going back now, sunshine – you’re here for the duration. And that means that if every home game is like watching paint dry, you’ll develop a taste for it. When someone leaves, you say “good riddance, you were shit anyway” – and if he should suddenly start knocking in goals every week for his new club there’s bound to be an excuse for that too, but it won’t be OUR fault. Hell no.
Or so it would seem. TTW&R may well be the Kings of Complaint and the Dukes of Despair (and no prizes for guessing who the biggest moaner of the lot is!) but it’s hard to stifle a laugh when 9 league games (a quarter of the season) with one win is described as a “blip” while two somewhat freakish away wins is The Way Things Really Are! It’s going to take a bit more than two wins in admittedly difficult circumstances and a few goals from Emile to put a smile on my face and banish the games from Fulham to Southampton out of our memories forever.
There are still questions being asked about this team. Why, for instance, do they nearly always give a great account of themselves if some of the following criteria are satisfied: we have to be away, we have to be playing a good side committed to attack, we have to get the opening goal and if we’ve been written off as having no chance so much the better. And when you reverse all that (at home, lowly opponents, concede the opening goal, everyone expects us to win and the onus is on us to attack), why is it that we nearly always stink the ground (usually Anfield) out? We’ve got twice as many away goals as home goals, we got 10 points away to United Arsenal Leeds and Newcastle but only 6 at home to Fulham Bolton, Southampton and Leicester. This is quite clearly a preposterous state of affairs.
We still have a team that needs everything to go its way before it achieves the required performance. Ipswich away may actually work to our disadvantage, as one writer in the Express implied: “the players were reluctant to talk as they passed through a tunnel of screaming autograph hunters. It seemed odd after such a performance. It was as if they were suddenly serious with the weight of a new responsibility, worried that they have revealed a hand which doesn’t so much give the potential for a title as demand it”. And, as the Beatles once sang, you’re going to carry that weight a long time, boys. Ill manager or no, we’re almost there, same as we were in 1996 and 1997. The time for excuses, the time for ifs and buts has all but run out. We know what they can do now. And when you develop a taste for caviar, you can never go back to beans on toast!