Is optimism a dirty word?

I’d like to start this piece by telling you a few things about a boy called Liam, Liam is six-years-old, Liam is a massive fan of Liverpool Football Club, Liam went to his first game aged four, Liam went to every home cup game and Wembley last year, Liam’s bedroom is a shrine to Liverpool, Liam wakes up every day, puts one of his Liverpool kits on and either pretends to be Liverpool in the garden or plays as Liverpool on FIFA. In short, Liam loves football and adores Liverpool Football Club already.

Let me tell you a few other facts about him: Liam has no idea who FSG are, Liam has no concept of net spend, Liam has no idea where Liverpool come on the Forbes Rich List, Liam has no concept of agent’s fees and the intricacies of the transfer market, Liam loves the huge new stand but has no view on whether it’s a corporate sell out or if the extra revenue will help us in the future.

A few more things: Liam is bursting with excitement about the new season, Liam goes into every game believing Liverpool can and will win, Liam is excited to see all the new signings and Liam applauds the good things all players do, even if they’ve made mistakes before.

As you may have guessed, Liam is my son. Over the past 18 months it’s been my pleasure to start to introduce him more and more to the game I love, and the club I have adored since my dad instilled it in me at the same age. From spending so much time talking about Liverpool with him in the last year it’s been refreshing, and in some ways a real eye-opening privilege to see the game through the lens of a ‘pure’ Liverpool fan, one with naivety, a wide-eyed enthusiasm for the game, totally untainted by past negativities or who has become so heavily burdened by years of disappointment that they can’t even muster an iota of optimism for any situation.

I’m naturally an optimist when it comes to Liverpool, always have been and always will be. Some may say it’s stupid or wrong, in fact many do, but I subscribe to the philosophy that if things go bad there’s plenty time to be angry and dismayed when it occurs, why waste time and energy pre-emptively on such emotions before they are required? Watching Liverpool with my son the past 18 months or so has re-enforced this for me, it makes it possible to get back to the root of why I have enjoyed the game since I was a toddler, the goals, the highs, the moments, the possibilities and the blind faith that we’ve all had at some stage: Yes we lost, yes today was bad…but there’s always next week eh?

However, as I peruse forums and social media over the summer, I do so with a heavy heart. Every purchase has been dissected to the ‘nth’ degree in order to extract the minutiae of why it is underwhelming, unnecessary or flawed. Every player signed by others suddenly becomes the player we desperately needed, every second post/tweet/message refers to the things I mentioned earlier on: net spend, corporate greed, profiteering owners, wages, missed targets and so on.As I write this we are 11 days after from Liverpool’s league campaign kicking off, pre-season is in full swing but we are still in the abyss between seasons. For any football fan this should be the time for unbridled optimism. Our clubs have yet to lose a game, the blind belief that last season’s deficiencies have been addressed is still an actual possibility, the prospect that at least one of the new signings may turn out to be ‘that’ buy, the kind that goes on to become a folk hero or leading player is still alive and even the dreaded cliché ‘it could be our year’ cannot be unproven.

Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I totally understand, and in some cases share the frustration. And I completely appreciate that it’s a lot harder to be objective and positive when you are personally about to invest another hefty chunk of change into following your team for another 10 months, especially when you do so with a heavy heart caused by suspicion that it will be disappointing, or worse that it will drift by in a black hole of mediocrity.

But why do we allow ourselves to be like this?

On the 14th August a merry band of away supporters will descend on The Emirates, on the 10th September the doors to the newly extended Anfield will swing open for the first time this season. On both dates, the thousands of Liverpool fans who descend upon the game, and the millions watching elsewhere will all be cheering the team on, they will all want us to win, willing every shot to beat the keeper and ripple the net, applauding every good piece of play, trying to contribute to an atmosphere that will push the team on. In short, for 90 minutes once or twice a week, the vast majority of us once again become ‘Liam’.

As we break into the opponent’s half and we rise from our seats in anticipation, nobody is looking at the posh seats sneering at those we perceive are mismanaging the club, none of us are slating the player with the ball because we believe the signing is underwhelming and there’s no shout to resist passing to a player in space on the basis that we believe he was bought on the cheap. Instead, for that moment we are lost in the game, hoping that the chance is created and converted so we can all celebrate as one. In short: For a brief time we all revert to being that naïve child who watches for enjoyment alone.

So why then do we allow ourselves to get so stressed and pre-emptively depressed at all other times when discussing the game? What exactly is wrong with positivity, hope and belief?

In terms of Liverpool forthcoming season, I share some people’s concerns that we may have filled the problem areas I wanted filling, I accept our squad is still dotted with players who probably aren’t up the task, but I also have faith, faith in the manager. I don’t expect us to win the league, but even in an injury ravaged, fixture backlogged six months last season I saw plenty from Klopp to suggest he can get more from the existing players, and judging by those he is ousting I’m confident he knows the deficiencies as well as we do. With a full pre-season and a plenty training time, allied with some of his own signings and I’m confident we will see an improvement on last year, which is all I ask.

I don’t expect every blogger, podcaster, tweeter and poster to turn into a ray of sunshine on every aspect of Liverpool on the back of this, and it would be pretty boring if we did. I just urge people to stop once in a while and remember why you love the game, and remember that once the referee starts the first game all that will matter is the 90 minutes ahead and focusing on supporting your team and hoping for the best.

That’s why you became fans, that’s what keeps us as fans, so don’t let the other stuff constantly drag you down. Enjoy the season, enjoy the good bits and ‘Be more Liam’.

Source: Pre-Seasons Blues: Optimism is not a dirty word – Read Liverpool

FOAR

The best damn LFC site in the World.
Deal with it.

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31 thoughts on “Is optimism a dirty word?”

  1. I really enjoyed that article, it sort of awakens the boyhood memories, and the excitement of going to the match.
    I just hope it stays with Liam for a few years yet A couple of years ago I had a conversation with two of my Grandsons who are older than Liam, all their judgements were based on whatever rankings/ value were within whatever FIFA game (I am out of my depth here, know nothing about games) they both had.
    This player or that player were rubbished because of opinions of whoever created the game.
    When I challenged their comments they looked at me like I was mad, and decided I knew nothing about football as they see it
    So to Liam’s Dad I say keep up the good work, but watch what you buy him!

  2. Good read.

    This ‘be more like Liam’ ought to be a thing on the internet for LFC fans.

    As for why many of us can’t be like Liam, well it’s cause we’re here on the internet forums and the negativity we read from others, rational or otherwise is bound to get to us as well.

  3. Its not a dirty word and in fact should be applauded. I guess over the years us fans have seen recurring problems that have not been addressed. Mascherano, Suarez not being replaced, Mignolets up and down form, signing players that don’t fit – Benteke, Balotelli etc… I don’t think any fan minds to be wrong but more often than not previous seasons inadequacies continue in to the next season. Most of us have put total faith in Klopp to fix these problems so a new slate begins. Hopefully Liam will experience the rise and rise of LFC. As for us long time supporters optimism is not a dirty word, but neither is realism.

  4. Fantastic article.
    I remember the season of 1979/80. I was a child watching the game from the kop alone as my mate’s couldn’t make it. It was the last game of the season. We played Aston Villa. We beat them 3-0 I think and lifted the league trophy. I was 14 years old and given the money by my mother so I was able to watch the game, as she always gave me the few pounds to watch my beloved Liverpool, she knew how much Liverpool meant to me. My bedroom was adorned in pictures of my hero’s. Wall to wall. It was quite ridiculous but as a child I was in love with my team, my club. The thing that made me smile. To this day I have not changed in mentality, just matured in age, but my desire to view my beloved Liverpool is still the same. Perhaps not so much with blind open eyed faith as I was as a child, but faith all the same.
    Liverpool is in my blood, my heart and my soul. Nothing will ever change that.

    That day in May 1980 while stood on the Kop with my Liverpool brothers as a 14 year old supporter I cried as our team lifted the trophy in front of us all.
    Together we were
    Together we remain
    A lot has happened in life since then, but the faith remains,
    The beginning of a new season drives hope through our being.

    History is fantastic, let’s make some more.

    We are LIVERPOOL.

    1. “My bedroom was adorned in pictures of my hero’s. Wall to wall. It was quite ridiculous”

      Ha, why is that ridiculous? My guest room is decorated as a LFC shrine, above the double bed is hanging a Liverpool scarf, on each night table some Liverpool literature and a few LFC jerseys are hanging on the walls. My wife thinks it’s hilarious, all my kids thinks it’s fantastic. My brother who is sleeping over twice a year thinks it’s tasteless but he is a Manu fan, and usually has nightmares sleeping by us 🙂
      I only once ever considered taking it down. I have a truly good mate from Italy, he is a Juventus fan and lives just outside Turin, but he knows me for 15 years and there are no problems, he even took me to a Juve game a few times.

      1. Man, not really ridiculous but ya couldn’t see the wallpaper in my room. It was totally full of Liverpool pictures.
        N yeah fully understand the manure fan not feeling comfortable in your house:)

        1. Does it count if I tie my wife up with a Liverpool scarf? 🙂 and gag my mother in-law with one?

      2. You as well?, I had a brother in law who was a Utd fan, he came to many games at Anfield with me, and we had many a disagreement, but he is no longer with us, and to tell the truth I miss him-a lot.

  5. Cracking article from a writer that really has hope in his heart. Walk on lad, I am keeping your back.

    On the way to the promised land.

  6. that’s every true supporter of every club for me, our moaners piss me off tbh, do they think for one moment that Shanks ever started a season not believing ~ of course not, truth is there are thousands of Liams for every moaning minny, good article, looking forward to the 14th ~ wish I could be there.

  7. Great piece! Thanks for sharing. Brought back some good memories from my own childhood as well. Apart from the attending at Anfield and FIFA playing, I was very much the same boy as Liam here and I know I’m not alone.
    A very good and much needed wake up call for everyone!

      1. I would definitely like to read some more of his work, if I had more free time I would enjoy penning an article myself.

      2. More than anything there is hope in what he writes and a level-headed perspective, we need more of that. So if he is willing we would like more of him.

  8. Somehow we’ve forgotten how to be a supporter in the midst of opinions, arguments and debates. It’s sad.

    That’s why reminders like this are timely.

    Let’s be more like Liam!

  9. Great piece and very nicely written.

    P.S. I’m very optimistic about the upcoming season ⚽

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