Where were we? Oh yes; 25 points ahead of the rest, 9 games to go, about to end a miserable three-decade wait for the one trophy that we once arrogantly believed belonged to us. I almost forgot.
There was jubilation aplenty back in March, with a solitary voice telling everyone to cool their jets, hold their horses, that strange things can happen and probably will. But this strange? A complete collapse of civilisation, a virulent plague, and national house arrest? Kudos to all the budding Nostradamaii who saw that one coming.
Before long tens of thousands were already dead. Why does everything happen to us? A morbid joke perhaps, but an internal battle for all Liverpool fans has raged between the requisite amount of concern for others and, y’know, it has been 30 years after all… Our season prematurely ended in defeat against Atletico, along with Cheltenham one of the last major sporting events in the UK and a ticking bomb that exploded silently yet devastatingly for subsequent weeks. And that nice Mr Johnson seemed such a capable sort, too…
Ever since then there’s been a social media battleground involving all the banter battalions; frothing and foaming about “null and void”, also claiming a spurious moral superiority aimed at sticking it to Liverpool fans further still. “We care about the loss of human life, and all you care about is your stupid cup”. Christ, I knew we weren’t liked, but this was levels upon levels.
Inter-fanbase discussion must surely contain a grain of truth, even it if may ultimately perish from loneliness. It can’t be the automatic, complete naysaying of anything The Other might be articulating, thinking, or feeling. Apparently, I’m as wrong as can be.
Amidst such a frenetic playground it’s been remarkably easy to blot it all out. As the death toll continued to rise, you were really going to do this? People would inevitably keep talking about football, as inappropriate as it seemed. You want a return to normality, so things like shopping, drinking, and entertainment — trivialities to be sure — would still prey on minds sick with worry and fear.
Everything shrinks to insignificance compared to death itself, so for God’s sake let’s not rummage through the whole Shankly quote nonsense again, please.
We may speak of returning to normality, but where football was concerned there was now an awful lot of free time to contemplate what that particular normality was. Quite a lot of fans did not like what they saw.
The desperate stench of money-lust is overwhelming most of the time. Even the game’s peculiarly inadequate return has clogged the nostrils, but those most vocal were, by a complete coincidence, those who were most desperate to stay in the Premier League by whatever means necessary so their snouts could remain firmly wedged in the trough.
As for those who simply dislike the thought of Liverpool winning the league, their relentless campaign of diminishment goes on and probably will not ever end. Were we like this when it was United’s time of suffering? I suppose we must have been, although I cannot possibly believe it was this consuming and this self-demeaning.
It has been a long time; surely one success won’t make this much difference after everything else the country has been through? Maybe we’re the guilty ones, making more of a select few internet sad cases than they warranted, the rest of the world just shaking their heads at us sadly and muttering “get over yourselves”.
One of the accusations, a fair one, is that Liverpool’s league position was only one of many that was yet to be decided, and of course the only one we were bothered about.
Other league places, relegation, the conclusion of cup competitions — what were they to us? Little or nothing, and sadly that’s come across loud and clear in the spring months.
So now there is light at the end of the tunnel, all eyes on the German template. We’ll all be glued to our own screens soon enough, and if it’s as weird as the Bundesliga experience then brace yourselves for yet more strangeness. Maybe it will all make sense when you have a personal stake in events, maybe not. It will be different, anyway.
The question all Reds get asked is simple, and needn’t have a sly agenda attached - although we’re touchy enough to always see one; has all this ruined your triumph (if indeed there is to be one, he said ever-cautiously)?
Of course, and while people are still dying football is always low priority. The government seemed desperate to get it back, to unite the nation they claimed. It’s like they’d never even met a football fan before, which is probably likely.
I’m a Liverpool supporter, and I know 2020 will be spoken of in such hushed, mortified tones for everything other than the fact my team got its long-awaited bauble. It would be inhumane to think otherwise.
Maybe it’s just the old and jaded, like me, who simply think of it all in terms of relief, of a trophy drought that shouldn’t have lasted so long in the first place finally ending. After all, my generation has already seen a fair few such triumphs before.
There will now be a tendency to revel in others’ previous glee, their desperation for us not to have this moment, and like United before us, an underlying respect – buried deeply, of course – that Liverpool really ought not to have taken so long about it in the first place.
Maybe we’ve even heard the last of the Gerrard song, although that much faith in human rationality is frankly stretching credulity to breaking point.
There will also be unseemly spite towards the likes of Everton certainly, a club that has effectively hidden in the shadows of our underachievement, who will now be asked in a sickly-sweet tone of mischievous quizzicality; “how long is it since you last won it, by the way?” All of which is to come, hopefully, although I really can’t be bothered with any of all that right now.
What I do hope for, as irrelevant as it may seem for some, is that the talent of Jurgen Klopp and these players will be fully recognised. Despite the horrors that have befallen us all, it is possible to think two different things at once, and that this group really have excelled over recent seasons.
It seems we are to eventually conclude this strangest of all football seasons, and those who deserve credit should receive it. Our return to normality has even encompassed the perennial hissy fit about a star player signing for somebody else, in this case, Leipzig’s Timo Werner. Oh football, how we’ve missed you…well, most of you.
If Klopp’s wonderful team can pick up where it left off to any professional degree, we’ll win the league, our banter-some number 19. Of course, it would be the same number associated with the pandemic.
And then, hopefully, we can all go back to firing salvos at other supporters across cyberspace and prepare for another year of borderline hysteria.
It may not be an ideal normality, but after the nightmare we’re all going through it would take an arch-curmudgeon to take such imperfection for granted ever again.