At the start of the season, I predicted, like most, that Liverpool was still in their rebuilding period. We would finish 6th, maybe 5th if Tottenham really screwed up. I wasn’t being pessimistic, just realistic. The top 4 spot that would bring Champions League football back to Anfield was a dream for next season, and that was okay. If you’d told me then that I’d be sitting here now, sad that we didn’t win the league… well, sure, supporters of every team down to the ones that get relegated are sad that their teams didn’t win the league. But if you’d told me how close we came, I’d have never believed you. As I write this, I’ll admit I’m a bit teary-eyed that City (the team I predicted to win at the start of the season, mind) came out on top, but we’re in second. We’re back in the Champions League. We’re so far ahead of United you have to scroll down the league table to find them. I’m nothing if not very, very proud. It’s been a wild ride, and here are a few of the most memorable moments:
Liverpool 1 – 0 Stoke, 17 August 2013
The day before I left for Ireland, I got up at half-six on a Saturday morning and went to the pub with my father (dragging along my still-half-asleep mother and sister). There we were joined by about fifty other people, mostly my father’s age, mostly men, but some women, some young people, and nearly all wearing red. We said hello to the bartender, got our pints—yes, at seven in the morning—and sat down to watch the football. Liverpool v Stoke, at Anfield, the opening match of the 2013/14 season. Things got off to a good start, with Daniel Sturridge (more on him later) scoring a few minutes before halftime. It looked like we were on track for a win and the atmosphere in the Iron Abbey was upbeat. Then, in the 88th minute, when all we had to do was sit back and defend, Daniel Agger, my second favourite Dane after Hamlet, handled the ball in the box and the referee called for a penalty.
Here it is, I thought. Business as usual. Stoke will equalise and we’ll be on track for a season just like the ones we’ve had for the past few years; the ones that made me dread waking up on those early weekend mornings, hungover and watching Liverpool lose to Aston Villa. And then, and then. Simon Mignolet, our new keeper (whom I immediately liked even though I’ve always been a big fan of Pepe Reina), saved the penalty, and saved the win for Liverpool. At that moment I knew—I think we all knew—that this season was going to be something special.