For an unusually contemplative guy, the holidays tend to give me even more time to sit and ponder certain points of interest in my life. With so much time spent caring too much about sport, while finding a scarcity of ways to explain such to my loved ones who could basically give a shit, it's been a weird week or so of sport consumption for the Barrister. Snippets here and there. Highlights on the phone or iPad. Subtle or not-so-subtle twitter check-ins on my lap during a delicious meal. Uneasy looks from the Missus as she no doubt wonders why she was so thoroughly duped into marrying me.
(Ed. note #1 from the Scizz: Leave your theories in the comments!)
If my family didn't think I was utterly pathetic before, they sure do now. (which is why they think I'm working on real jobby job stuff right now, rather than typing up a frivolous blog post...)
When I started following Liverpool, they made it easy. They were on the upswing and played with a trajectory that made a newbie like me hope for Cups and glory and early mornings of joy spent watching a sport played across a vast oceanic divide. The weekend before Christmas, while Yachtsman and I watched a satisfying victory at Villa Park, we talked a little bit about those times, and about Istanbul 2005 in particular. I hope Yachter shares his story about that day here sometime, as it is a hilarious classic, but needless to say - for me - watching Steven Gerrard celebrate a European title (not to mention the most improbable of routes to that title) made me feel like anything was possible. It was perhaps the best I've felt as a sports fan, which is both a wonderful and depressing thought.
(Ed. Note #2 from Scizz: I'm sure the excuse to drink on early mornings helped too.)
Years passed, my interest waned with the arrival of Roy "Happy with a Draw" Hodgson, only to be rekindled by my friendship with other fans and the change of ownership and management, and I was led to believe - yet again - that there was magic to be found at Anfield.
But all of this doesn't change the other, more troubling overarching facts: the lost points at home (also leading the league), the whining look on the face of our superstar Uruguayan and his tendency to seek the miraculous over the efficiently productive (love you, Luis, but fuck it... It must be said), the failure of our poney-tailed "superstar" to find his footing in a Liverpool shirt, and the team's position on the table and accompanying improbability of making up those lost points to manage a Top 4 finish. This was never a year for winning the League, of course, but it was a year to, again, seriously compete for a Champions League spot. Yet, with one game left before the season's midway point, the team's realistic goals are already being rethought by anyone caring to accept the harsh truth of math for what it is. At the moment, at least, I am one of those people.
Maybe I'm getting too down on things. They've shown a great deal of magic at times this season, and have at least proven that they can hang with the top clubs in England. Though who can blame me for refusing to take solace in moral victories after back-to-back draws at Wigan and against Blackburn, two of the sides fighting to avoid relegation this year? You HAVE to bury those teams if you want to even sniff European qualification. These last two matches are nothing if not pure embarrassments, and the four points left out on the pitch will surely matter a great deal when this season wraps up.
Of course, while I'm lacking confidence as we round the corner to the second half, much can be remedied with a win this Friday at home against Newcastle. Indeed, with the up and down tendencies of this Liverpool team, fans have reason to hope for a bounceback victory, salvaging some pride and points as the team looks ahead to Man City and beyond in the New Year.
And, of course, I'll be watching (this time, in Buffalo!) and dreaming of what could be, despite the evidence suggesting otherwise, for this absurdly talented yet underachieving group of players.