Liverpool will be on their own in Russia
Soccer fans loyal only to their teams
YOU may have heard that Liverpool have made it to the Champions League soccer final. And with the unlikely progress of Jürgen Klopp’s delightfully uninhibited side to the showpiece in Kiev has come the assumption by certain parties that this is somehow a universally appealing prospect.
The whole country, many have suggested, will get behind Mo and Bobby and Virgil. All of us, so the theory goes, will be as animated on our sofas as Klopp will be in the technical area, as we roll in the aisles at James Milner’s self-consciously dull tweets while belting out our chorus of “Ole, ole, ole.” Yeah, right. As Matt Dawson found out, football support is not quite like that. The Rugby World Cup-winning scrumhalf and presiding irritant on television’s A Question of Sport apparently likes to describe himself as an Everton fan.
I say apparently because he does not seem to grasp the fundamental tenet of the calling. After Liverpool’s magnificently harum-scarum semifinal win over Roma, he tweeted: “Thoroughly enjoyed that @LFC. Many congrats and will be cheering you on in a few weeks #ynwa”.
The response was less positive. Everton fans pointed out the problem of not simply wishing the rivals well, but doing so by embracing the Liverpool motto. ‘You’ll Never Walk Again’ was among the more polite suggestions.
And those incensed Evertonians are by no means unusual in their absolute refusal to climb aboard the Kloppite bandwagon rolling its way to Ukraine.
Every Manchester United fan will already have identified which sock draw it is that will command their urgent attention on the evening of May 26. So will Chelsea supporters. Anyone, in fact, who follows a rival team.
They might grudgingly acknowledge the quality of the performances that have got Liverpool there, they might wish that Salah, Firmino and Van Dijk were in their side, but as far as they are concerned, Klopp and his team will be walking into the NSC Olimpiyskiy very much alone.
And rightly so. Dawson’s logic that because a successful club hail from the same country as the one you favour you suddenly root for them, runs counter to the emotional purpose of football support.
Football is nothing if it is not tribal; you follow who you follow and everyone else can go take a running jump.
The idea that you will be willing on a team that, when they play your own, you loathe with every fibre of your being, undermines the point of being a fan.
Loyalty is fundamental; flip-flopping anathema; once you have made your choice you stick with it.
This is not just an English thing. Does Dawson really imagine followers of Atletico Madrid will be cheering on Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates in Kiev?
Anyone but your close rival has long been the prevailing dictum of the football fan.
And Liverpool fans would not want it any other way.
When United and Chelsea reached the Champions League final in 1999 and 2012, on both occasions every Liverpool fan worthy of the name became an overnight Bayern Munich supporter. – The Daily Telegraph
LOYAL TO THE CORE: Liverpool soccer supporters Emily and David Farley carry a cardboard cut-out of Liverpool player Mo Salah outside their house which has been decorated ahead of the club's Champions League final appearance against Real Madrid in two...