2013-14: Best and Worst

Simon Mignolet celebrates vital penalty save against Stoke City

Simon Mignolet celebrates vital penalty save against Stoke City

Article published first on http://www.live4liverpool.com

Summer is in full swing. The world cup beckons, and soon last seasons memories will fade from view. What a season of breathtaking highs and soul sapping lows it was. This is how football should be. We can take immense pride from the fact that it was our team providing all of the headlines right up until the end.

So, with season ticket renewed, and pocket empty, I am looking forward to the 2014-15 season in a way I haven’t for years. Therefore, before we consign the 203-14 campaign to history, let’s take a last look at the highs and lows of a momentous year.

We’ll get the lows out of the way first. Thankfully they were few. For me Hull City away was up there with the worst. That was a display of defensive frailty that came to typify our season. For once the mantra of ‘you score when you want, we’ll just score more’ failed to pay off.

Then came the double defeat over Christmas. The reds sat top on Christmas day, and deservedly so. Two massive games lay in wait. The fixture Gods had been unkind to us this year. Two away games to top four rivals in a matter of days was cruel. We lost them both after going ahead in each game, falling from 1st to 5th in the process. It guaranteed me a miserable new years eve.

Despair turned to hope in 2014 and we had to wait until the final stretch to experience those feelings again. The team put together an unbelievable run and went within a hares breath of clinching the title. However, the proximity of glory only served to magnify the hurt of those two painful results at the back end of the season.

The Chelsea game was a choker. Mourinho had come for a draw. We could have lived with that. He left with all three points.

Brendan stayed true to his values. We went at them with the same verve which had seen us crush all before us. We knew he would do it, and none of us complained before the game. That was the very style of play that had delighted us all season.

As we headed into the interval a slip by our Captain gifted Chelsea the lead. It was cruel on Stevie and agony for us. We chased the game in the second half and simply ran out of ideas. The final whistle was like an arrow through the heart. Most of us knew the league had gone.

Then came Palace. I still don’t like talking about it. Again we all delighted in the fact that Brendan was going to go for it in the last couple of games. If we could rack up a massive goal difference who knew where we would end up? With the team at 3-0 most of us were willing them to get more. Memories of the famous 9-0 in the 80′s were evoked.

The team seemed to be dreaming too. What followed was a defensive display of nightmarish proportions. I still shiver thinking about it. The greatest disappointment for me though, has to be the end of season lap of honour. This is no disrespect to Brendan or the lads. They received a richly deserved show of appreciation.

It was the sight of them trudging the turf without that holy grail, that was so heartbreaking. That sense of ‘what might have been’ seemed everywhere.

Enough of this. The lows were vastly outweighed by the highs so let’s not dwell on them. I’ll list my top three and we’ll say no more about it.

  1. Lap of Honour
  2. Chelsea
  3. Palace

In trying to sort the highs into a top three I had a tough time. Some sadly didn’t make the cut. For example, remember how you felt when Mignolet saved that penalty on his début right at the start of the season.

There was a familiar sense of inevitability when that spot kick was awarded. Another hard luck story? The save and accompanying scenes of jubilation on and off the pitch suggested we all felt something special was happening. “A turning point in the season” a mate joked in the pub afterwards. We all laughed at the time, but it did herald a doggedness and team ethic that set us apart last year.

What about the double over United? Surely wins over our Manc rivals have to rank in any season highlight reel. Not for me. Last year we dispensed with the Davey Moyes noise with consummate ease. I expected more from them frankly.

The destruction of Everton at Anfield was  a sight to behold. Any Derby win is to be rejoiced, even a 1-0. As a Scouser the Everton game will always be the biggest of the season for me. To see us dismantle them the way we did brought euphoria to the Kop and broke Blue hearts. As usual pre match chatter had been all about shifts in power yada yada. Never mind.

However this was eclipsed by the 5-1 demolition of Arsenal. The Gunners were pushing for the title, and again lauded for their beautiful football. Before the game I thought we had a chance. I didn’t dare to dream that I would witness the finest display of attacking football in a generation. Arsenal were quite simply undressed, and in 20 minutes the game was over. Sheer joy.

Then we come to the City game. I struggle to put into words how it felt to be pegged back to 2-2 in that game. The way Silva was playing a defeat seemed inevitable. Up step the little magician. Aided and abetted by a Vincent Company error, Coutinho curled a delightful strike into the far corner. Hart could do nothing. Cue scenes of utter rapture.

Just watching the boys was a highest of highs for me. We witnessed a renaissance. It was like the days of Barnes, Beardsley and Aldridge. A time when going to watch the Reds really was like watching Brazil. Suarez and Strurridge tore defences apart. Players like Henderson, Coutinho, and Sterling emerged into the light and showed us that the future is bright. There was so much to adore.

I left that game convinced we would win the league. It was an incredible feeling. My top three has kind of picked its self.

  1. Brendan’s style of play
  2. Arsenal 5-1
  3. Everton 4-0

Bring on 2014-15. We go again.

Jeff Goulding

June 2014

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