I've been grinning all day, trying to focus my thoughts on what a win like this means; what it means for the Club and the players and the supporters and, well, for me. What it means to be looking glory square in the face again, after such an arduous and unpredictable path away from it, and what it means to now find the necessary balance between reveling in what can fairly be described as "HOLY SHIT THIS RULES WHERE ARE MY PANTS?" and breathing deeply the reasoned cynicism well-taught by five years of ingrained and immovable disappointment.
If I'm honest, the balance has shifted in a way that's both uncomfortable and welcome, since dreaming again is what we'd been waiting for all along. Dreaming is what makes sports worth anything when stripped from the bullshit economics and the vague morality plays. Dreaming is why we have lucky jerseys and fan rituals and why we bother to have favorite players to do the things we wait for them to do ... the hope for a moment of beauty and achievement and, if we're lucky, perfection. Sports can be perfect, as marred as they are, through how they might at some point make us feel. Dreaming of that is an end in and of itself, and to have even just that dream is pretty fucking fantastic.
Earlier this season, when Liverpool sat in roughly the same position in the League Table as they do now, midfielder Lucas Leiva said, and I'm paraphrasing, that it was good for fans to dream. It didn't matter if it was premature or folly or whatever, since it was the players' jobs to make sure that they kept themselves and their aspirations in check and that they got the job of each game done, but fans didn't have that responsibility. Cheer. Dream. Believe in a miracle run to a Premiership title. Have at it, Lucas said. It's fun.
Of course, it hasn't been fun lately. Not until about 14 months ago, and even since then it's felt necessarily precarious. We saw how quickly success could vacate the Club - a title chase quickly transitioned into near bankruptcy and then into terrible management and a slow crawl back from the edge - so we were guarded. We'd let ourselves hope for a Champions League berth, but no more. A line in the sand, such as it was.
But then we had a thrashing of Tottenham away, and two close losses at Chelsea and City, and then the resounding win against Arsenal at home. And we had other affirmative statements of our club's dominance or even just its ability to win when it shouldn't, making us forget the weak moments and the disappointing moments; helping us move past the regret of dropped points that does a fan no good when he controls so little. So when the time came, a trip to Manchester seemed, because it simply was, important in a way that it hadn't been since we'd really started on the road to mediocrity.
Win and this all seems genuinely doable. Lose and the opportunity to win the League would be genuinely lost.
"We'll lose, for sure. It's Old Trafford after all" ... This or some other similar caveat tossed up as the defense mechanisms that fans don't need, but somehow cling to so that they can shrug off the sadness that feels strangely and inappropriately like shame if their team's failure indeed comes.
Except dreaming is allowed. And at this point, for fans of the Liverpool Football Club, it's all but required.