David Hirshey writes regularly for Deadspin about soccer.
You know how Liverpool supporters are always going on about being the greatest fans in the world? Behold the glory of Anfield ... the legendary Kop stand where the faithful could "suck the ball into the opponent's goal" ... the lump-in-your-throat beauty of their Gerry and the Pacemakers anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" ... the soul-ennobling spirit of "You can't buy 50 years of tradition." Does anyone really believe this swill? Or to put it another way, are Scousers simply the most deluded fans on the planet?
If nothing else, they seem to suffer from selective amnesia. I'm sure it must make your heart soar to hear 45,000 fans bursting into song, but it rings a little hollow when six goals have been sucked into YOUR goal, as was the case last year during the Carling Cup annihilation by Arsenal? And as for Liverpool's refusal to sell that half century of remarkable history, didn't a couple of American yahoos pay almost a billion dollars for it last year?
I was reminded of all this Sunday morning at Kinsale Tavern after Fernando Torres' header at the death rescued a 2-2 draw with Tottenham and the Liverpool contingent at the end of the bar starting chanting, "We're still undefeated, we're still undefeated."
Huh? Technically, of course, they're correct. In eight Prem games so far this season, they've won four and drawn four. But when you consider that in their last two outings at their Anfield fortress, they have lost 1-0 to the 17th best team in France and eked out a tie with the 17th best team in the Prem, it's safe to say that they have moved the needle on the Delusion-o-meter through the roof.
I mean, you didn't hear me bellowing "We are the Champions" after Arsenal won its 10th straight yesterday to stay top of the league, six points ahead of Liverpool, did you? Of course not. For one thing, you don't celebrate a 3-2 victory over 16th place Sunderland, even if it once again showed how Arsene's Foetuses are rapidly maturing into a legitimate title contender. For another, I was the only Gooner in a bar full of drunken, belligerent Scousers.
It's time, however, for Liverpool to realize that pummeling Derby 6-0 to open the season does not mean that future opponents, even one as toothless as Tottenham, will soil their shorts when they step onto Anfield's magic carpet. The Spurs, of course, had much to play for, not least the future of their manager Martin Jol, whose job is hanging by a thread of his nylon leisurewear and whose keeper, Paul Robinson, has been doing his best to snip it. After giving up two howlers against Villa last week, England's No. 1 walked Jol a couple of steps closer toward the gallows in the 12th minute by spilling Gerrard's free kick and allowing Voronin to slam home the rebound.
But instead of burying the Spurs, Liverpool threw them a lifeline with two defensive lapses that Robbie Keane mercilessly exploited to give Tottenham a 2-1 lead and Jol another reprieve. All the while, the Hirsute One, as I like to think of Benitez, was pulling on his chin hairs, no doubt wondering whether his incessant lineup tinkering was about to backfire again. I used to think there was a method to Benitez' selection madness. After all, he started Harry Kewell in the 2005 Champions League final, and we all know how that one ended. But sitting Torres for two successive games and goalless draws after he scored an electrifying hat-trick in the Carling Cup had Liverpool fans fitting Benitez with a straightjacket. So Torres started yesterday and for 90 minutes, despite his $45 million price tag and great hair, the Spanish striker was strangely subdued but no more so than Gerrard, Liverpool's talismanic captain.
"We haven't been ourselves of late," StevieG admitted afterwards. At least he had an excuse. Earlier in the week, he had taken his shiny new Bentley out for a spin when a 10-year-old boy ran out into the road and collided with the car.
No word on whether the Liverpool faithful burst into song and serenaded the poor kid with a chorus of "You'll Never Walk Alone Without A Pin In Your Leg."