I’ll start with a definition for the word ‘immutable’ from the Oxford Dictionaries: ‘Unchanging over time or unable to be changed’. In the days leading up to yesterday’s game, I kept hearing the phrase ‘the immutable law of the ex’.
I think it was coined by ex England rugby stalwart, and now commentator, Brian Moore, but I stand to be corrected on that. Anyway, to explain, this law means that when a team, any team, is facing another team that has just signed one of its players, that player will score. As Rafa Benitez would say: Fact.
The more the hour of the 4pm kick off for the game at Chelsea drew closer, the more my nerves got shredded, and the more I became obsessed with this law. Specifically, you now know where I am going with this, I was growing ever more worried that he-who-shall-not-be-named was going to score and that Liverpool would end up leaving Stamford Bridge with a new kind of misery.
On Friday night, I even dreamed that ‘he’ scored the second goal in a 3-0 victory and that He celebrated in fine style, standing on the pitch, arms widespread in jubilation. Even now, I still have that dreadful image burned onto my retina.
The time passed rapidly. Could I bear to watch? Could I bear to listen? I don’t think my flat has ever been tidier, due to the need to burn off so much nervous energy and an almost desperate desire to try and focus on something else. Anything else.
Eventually, the hour rolled round and I decided I could probably just about bear listen to it on the radio…for now anyway….until they scored. It felt less tense than watching somehow, plus I wasn’t ready to see ‘him’ in that blue shirt.
As the seconds of the first half ticked by, I found myself almost unable to move as the knots of fear grew and grew in my stomach. When Maxi Rodriguez missed that chance from three yards in front of goal, I convinced myself that that was our chance and it would all go horribly wrong from here on. Not so.
The team grew in confidence and were more than a match for Chelsea. Strong performances were evident all over the pitch, and today my heart thrills when I think of THAT block made by Jamie Carragher when ‘he’ had been put through on goal.
Then came the first of the two key moments of the second half; His substitution on 66 minutes. The ‘immutable law of the ex’? Ha! I laughed in its face….after my heart had lifted in relief, of course.
That relief was almost palpable. Even if Chelsea were to beat us, He would not play any further part in it. Then, shortly afterwards, came the joy of the goal.
Okay, so it was primarily down to a mis-judgment by Petr Cech, but the finish from Raul Meireles was superb. His fourth goal in five games and looking a bargain for the £12 million we paid for him last summer. It was then a matter of holding on for the next 20 minutes or so. I paced, I left the room, I went back in again, I turned the radio down, I turned it up again.
Then finally, finally, the whistle went, and it was over. I could not help shedding tears of absolute joy as I shook from relief. I have seen a fantastic photo with Steven Gerrard in the foreground, holding his arms aloft and looking to the heavens as if in thanks, while Kenny Dalglish and Sammy Lee are grinning in the background, surrounded by the miserable, slack-jawed faces of the Chelsea fans. That summed it all up.
Yesterday evening, I watched the highlights of the game on TV and they showed His face just after we scored.
At that moment, and I almost hate myself for this weakness, I felt sorry for ‘him’. His expression was like that of a rabbit caught in the headlights of an oncoming articulated lorry travelling at 100 miles per hour.Imagine the face of a schoolboy at a disco who has asked a girl to dance, only to have her politely decline and then take to the floor with another boy only moments later.
To me, that was the look on His face. Sheer embarrassment. Or maybe I just imagined that. Was He regretting His decision to leave us already with a heavy heart? Maybe not, maybe that is just how I hoped he was feeling.
It was an immense and courageous display from Liverpool. It would be wrong to single out particularly players for praise, but I shall do so anyway; Meireles, Kuyt, Gerrard, Carragher and Lucas were superb.
And they did it all without any input from Luis Suarez, who remained on the substitutes bench throughout the entire proceedings. On this Monday, the future is looking very bright.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.