Football can be life-changing, and not always in a positive way.
The 2013/14 changed a lot of Liverpool supporters. For the first time in a long time, fans believed the title was within their grasp. When Philippe Coutinho latched onto Vincent Kompany’s sliced clearance to fire home the winner against Manchester City, the Reds had their destiny firmly in their own hands. Brendan Rodgers’ men found themselves seven points clear of City having played two more games.
All they had to do to bring the league title back to Anfield was match the results posted by Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Then it happened. In the cruellest way, too.
Steven Gerrard slipped and couldn’t scramble back in time to stop Demba Ba as Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners at Anfield, halting all momentum. Then Crystanbul meant the Reds went into the final game of the season needing City to lose against West Ham United to give them any hope.
The chant of the season was buried deep. The song, full of hope and fuelled by dreams, was quickly tainted. It’s been the stuff of nightmares ever since. Rival fans have used it for half a decade now to taunt Liverpool, but it hadn’t been heard on the Kop for almost six years.
As the roar following Mohamed Salah’s goal late goal dissipated, the chant emerged. Firstly as a muttering but it was only a matter of seconds before it had exploded, and all four sides of Anfield were in full voice.
And now you’re gonna believe us… pic.twitter.com/gDgAVhgfVm
— AnfieldIndex (@AnfieldIndex) January 19, 2020
The importance of this can’t be overstated.
This wasn’t fluff or bluster. It wasn’t to antagonise their old-time rivals, either. It wasn’t relief that the match had been won but belief that this wasn’t going to be like all those other times.
The lead at the top of the table has been increasing in recent weeks yet the chant remained locked away. There had been a fear attached to it. A fear that hope can turn to pain. That dreams can slip into nightmares. It is a mindset Jürgen Klopp mentioned on his first day as the Liverpool manager.
The Reds now find themselves 16 points clear with a game in hand.
But the points total was, and is, irrelevant to this moment. This wasn’t about the three points. It was about beating Manchester United. This was about Klopp finally defeating Ole Gunnar Solskjær. It was about showing this team is, in fact, a winning machine and that jinxes and superstitions play no part in their game.
Yes, Liverpool are the most successful English club in history. But since the Premier League came into existence, there have been more lows than highs. And this impacts the mentality of fans.
Klopp wanted to turn doubters into believers. He wanted to turn Anfield into a fortress. The charismatic German knew to do that he needed to change the mindset. Delivering success helps rid the mind of those traumatic memories.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 19, 2020
Liverpool are Champions of Europe, they’re the champions of the Club World Cup and they claimed the European Super Cup earlier in the season, too. These feats don’t erase what happened in 2013/14 but they do show this team isn’t haunted by the ghosts of yesteryear. This team delivers. This squad knows how to win and they know how to manage pressure.
Heading into December, the next two months would be make-or-break for this Liverpool side. Klopp's men had to navigate the derby, a must-not-lose match in the Champions League, the Club World Cup and a number of tricky games in a short space of time. Removing the Carabao Cup game from the equation, they won all 12 matches and kept ten clean sheets.
This Reds side have broken down mental barriers and rebuilt emotional bridges over the past couple of years but doubt still lingered. Not now. With those five words, ‘We’re gonna win the league', this crop of players have the full backing of the Liverpool supporters. Not just physically or emotionally, but mentally. Klopp’s done what he set out to do. Fortress Anfield just got reinforced.