Take a bow Jurgen Klopp
Imagine a Kopite in the dugout. Imagine his every tick, twitch and grimace mirroring every sliding tackle and each kick of the ball. Imagine his internal maelstrom bubbling away throughout 90 minutes of football, his emotions crashing then soaring, before finally, upon the referees whistle they erupt in a magnificent celebratory explosion of euphoric irrationality. If you can, then you might as well be imagining Jurgen Klopp.
Enough time has passed now, since Divock Origi sent The Kop into sheer pandemonium on Sunday, for me to gain some perspective. I’ve absorbed the text messages from blue-noses and I’ve faced down the taunts on Facebook.
Apparently, according to our rivals, such celebrations should be reserved for only the biggest of sporting victories. Of course they would know all about those. They’ve seen them on the telly.
To be fair they’re probably right. Let’s face it, a draw at home to West Brom doesn’t compare to a last minute “winner” at Bournemouth and they were absolutely right on that occasion to invade the pitch like it was V.E. day. So what on earth did Klopp or The Kop have to celebrate when the whistle blew on another missed opportunity.
Truth is that on Sunday Klopp’s emotions on the touchline simply bubbled over. For 90 minutes he had kicked every ball. He probably wanted to kick everyone on the Albion bench too.
At full-time he, according to some, competely lost perspective and partied in front of The Kop like it was 1999. For me, in that moment, he was perfectly in tune with everyone inside the ground.
It had been a difficult match, as all games against a Pulis side are. Pressure had been building throughout the second half. Chance after chance missed the target, ramping up the frustration levels with each passing minute.
You often see these same tensions played out on social media, as fans watch dodgy streams and share their thoughts on-line. It’s like one giant hive mind in meltdown sometimes.
Tweets often make for hilarious reading after the game is over. You can almost feel the pain of the supporter perfectly summed up in 140 characters. Players go from zeros to heroes and back again. The team are doomed and saved, all in the space of 90 agonising minutes.
It’s tough watching your team from afar but believe me, because I’ve done both, nothing matches being in the stadium when it comes to the shredding of nerves. I can’t imagine what it’s like in the dugout.
The see-saw of emotions really has to be experienced to be believed. I am sure there are other walks of life that match it, I just haven’t experience them yet.
I am a survivor of many an encounter, in which the clock seems to eat up the seconds, while I desperately cling to hope and pray I won’t be going home to lick my wounds for the coming week. It’s an experience that can do strange things to a supporter.
All of us go to the game wanting, expecting or even demanding nothing less than three points. The thought of accepting a draw against a team like West Bromwich Albion is an anathema; never mind celebrating one. After all we are Liverpool. We should be comfortably dispatching teams like this routinely right?
Except we don’t.
Football doesn’t work like that does it? Ask Chelsea, Man United or City. In fact have a look at the top of the Premier League table right now, and you will see how wonderfully unpredictable football can be.
During a match you modify your aspirations. You start off flushed with optimism. Three points is the minimum expectation. You’ve already noted the scores affecting rival teams. You’ve plotted where a win will take the men in red and mapped out a strategy for the remainder of the season.
Unfortunately no strategy ever survives contact with the enemy.
So, when you go a goal down you just pray for an equalizer. It doesn’t matter how you get it. It could go in off the referee’s backside for all you care, so long as it ends up in the net. If you find yourself behind as full-time approaches that feeling only intensifies.
I often find myself bargaining with imaginary deities, promising the earth in return for a precious point. Let’s face it draws at home aren’t ideal, but they’re better than nothing. After all there’s a clubs honour at stake. Well not really, but that’s how it feels to all of us.
Football is an irrational game. If you don’t agree with that, consider this next time you’re at the game. You’re watching 22 men, you don’t know, kicking a ball around a pitch, while paying a princely sum for the privilege. Would you do that if you weren’t convinced you were part of something bigger than yourself? Something magical and life affirming?
The insanity of it is even worse for those who aren’t lucky enough to be at the game. These people will end up sat in front of a group of middle aged ex-footballers on the TV, who are in turn watching on their own screens, while revealing snippets of the action to jealous viewers who aren’t privileged enough to see it. They call it Gillette Soccer Saturday.
When you really think about it, is it really that surprising that in the mad world of the football supporter, a draw can feel like both a defeat and a victory, even though objective reality tells us it’s really just a draw? It just depends on the circumstances.
Sadly such romance has no place in football these days. Instead it’s a case of hiding your love away, for fear of invoking the scorn of your rivals. How boring.
Give me passion over the sanitised sport we are served up today any time. Let the blue-noses invade the pitch in a meaningless game on the south coast if they want. It is just a symbol of the bond between them and their club.
We used to have a similar relationship with our own team once. Remember how we felt about Liverpool sides of old. We even turned out in our tens of thousands once to welcome home a defeated team, following the ’71 FA Cup final. There was a time when we were proud of that. It was a symbol of the famous ‘holy trinity’of manager, players and supporters. Win, lose or draw we were inseparable.
On Sunday it looked like Klopp and the players felt a little of that old magic. Origi talked of never before experiencing support like that. “They pushed us on” he said.
The boss said it was the best atmosphere he’d experienced since joining the club and talked about an explosion of emotion at then end of the game. All he could think of was running to the supporters and celebrating with them. What’s not to love about that?
The reaction of some, including our own, has been to pour scorn on all of that. I refuse to join in. I don’t care what our rivals say, because they are no different than us.
I refuse to become a petulant, spoilt brat, for whom nothing but victory will do. I want to revel in those moments when a mere draw feels like a victory, because I know that they create an unbreakable bond between supporter and player. I love that our manager seems to feel exactly the same way.
It’s not about celebrating mediocrity. Ask the Dortmund supporters. They’ll tell you it’s about creating an unbreakable link between the terrace and the pitch. It’s about saying we want this as much as you. So I say take a bow Jurgen Klopp.
This article by me was originally published on http://www.thisisanfield.com