Irrational but genuine: One Liverpool fan's pointless pain at results

Irrational but genuine: One Liverpool fan's pointless pain at results

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reacts after losing to Fulham, their sixth Premier League defeat in a row at Anfield.  Picture: Clive Brunskill/PA Wire.

“IT IS a strange paradox that while the grief of football fans (and it is real grief) is private — we each have an individual relationship with our clubs, and I think that we are secretly convinced that none of the other fans understands quite why we have been harder hit than anyone else — we are forced to mourn in public, surrounded by people whose hurt is expressed in forms different from our own." — Nick Hornby, 'Fever Pitch'.

When last summer finally brought an end to the '30 years of hurt' in the league for Liverpool fans, no one could have envisaged our return to the world of hurt so soon after title elation. It would be fair to expect, as a fan, a few halcyon years of dominance or at least to be contending before the natural cycle of the game puts you back on the downward curve of success, returning you to the doldrums of painful inadequacy.

Not so for Liverpool. Their moment at the pinnacle was as fleeting as the summit of a rollercoaster ride.

There are multiple, totally plausible, reasons for Liverpool's sudden reversal from a side unbeaten at Anfield for two years to a side that has lost six home games in-a-row.

These are; no recovery, no defence, no fans. Yet these explanations, while all true, provide no consolation when you hear the result in the evening news.

I say hear the news, as I, a Liverpool fan, have stopped watching them playing at home preferring now to postpone the inevitable bad news till later in the day. Why spoil a perfectly good Saturday by watching your side impotently dominate possession without taking a shot on goal, all the while possessing the defensive cohesion of a wet hanky on a windy day.

Even watching Match of the Day, a standard treat for me on a Saturday night since my youth has now become a chore, knowing what's to come when Liverpool stumble at home to Fulham. FULHAM! for Christ sakes.

Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri reacts after losing to Fulham at Anfield.  Picture: Phil Noble/PA Wire.
Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri reacts after losing to Fulham at Anfield.  Picture: Phil Noble/PA Wire.

Five stages of grief

While avoiding matches and MOTD has afforded me even more time to catch up on the lockdown boxsets, it has not slipped my attention that this behaviour is the classic first symptom in the five stages of grief I'm obviously going through, whereby I handle the inevitable bad news by denying myself watching the hurtful events.

I don't know how the five stages are supposed to work but I seem to recognise all the stages running concurrently within me. The denial is ongoing whenever they play.

Unfortunate members of my family have witnessed my irksome mood swings as the post-result anger sets in, even though I've noticed that this anger is subsiding to the bargaining of, 'The Champions League is still there for us' which is now moving to the depression stage of 'oh no we are back in Premier League action on Monday,' and now the final acceptance stage that this season is a write-off, providing (and here we go back to the bargaining stage) that given the rest, a return of our centre-back line, midfield, and fans that we will be back to our very best again next season.

For many opposing fans this is pure gold. There is nothing so sweet as seeing your opponents suffer especially from an unforeseeable setback but I know such glee has its roots in their own individual pain of setbacks and defeats of their teams.

I'm not the only Liverpool fan going through such emotional gymnastics. Earlier this week the president of the Republic Namibia, Mr Hage G Geingob tweeted his hurt, "We the supporters of Liverpool have been walking alone for a while now. Sadly, we are becoming orphans because our team is dying."

Now you'd think the Namibian president might have more important affairs of state to be tweeting about, but fandom is not a rational hobby but rather an emotional hangup at best, or more dangerously, a love affair. And all the irrational baggage that comes with romance struggling through a rough patch.

This is a very personal strife I'm going through now, and it is made all the worse by knowing that it is ridiculous and childish. I know there are far more important problems in the middle of a divided and pandemic-ridden world. And while any of you who follow a team devotedly will recognise the feelings I'm experiencing as a fan, just like Nick Hornby described in the Fever Pitch quote from above, none of you can truly fathom the nonsensical, irrational hurt I'm going through right now.

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