You didn’t want it to end up this way, but you knew it would. We all knew it would. Not from the offset mind; you don’t go for a few drinks then wake up the next day expecting a hangover, but after being up for five to ten minutes you get the feelings. The feelings that say you’re in for a rough one. You start off in limbo, a bit groggy sure, maybe even tired, but mildly surprised at how well you seem to have handled last night’s overindulgence.
Then you get a couple of warning signs: the dull aching in your head that seems to be sharpening, considering breakfast but your stomach politely, but firmly, declines. After five to ten minutes you sense all is not well. How do you know? Because you’ve been here before. You do your best to get through it, with the only solace and light at the end of the tunnel being that you know at some point it will be over. You tell yourself that next time it will be better. You’re convinced that next time, you’ll know exactly what to do to avoid the feelings. Then next time comes, and the feelings are back…
Truth be told when it comes to watching the Reds, we love the feelings. We wouldn’t do it all if it wasn’t for the feelings. Many of us will have gone into Tuesday night with mainly the good feelings – optimism, excitement, perhaps even confidence. Some possibly will have practised other feelings – caution, calmness, and a reluctance to get ahead of ourselves. With one foot in the final after an away win (albeit a slim one) we all felt fairly sure that the home leg at Anfield would give us the best opportunity for a smooth passage. But not these Reds. Not our Reds. They love a scenic route do our Reds. An adventurous way round. These reds love giving us the feelings.
In fairness to our lads, they had a particularly heavy one at the weekend trading knocking back shot after shot in Norfolk. Against Stoke we knew something was up after the first few minutes. One too many misplaced passes from the midfield trio of an ever committed but always inconsistent Lucas, the classy but clumsy Emre Can, and our new captain-not-quite-yet-fantastic-but-maybe-one-day who seems to not quite have shaken off his never ending pins and needles (or something to that effect). The defence seemed sure enough, but there was something in the pre-match water Sakho’s drinking again that seems to have taken away his decisiveness post-injury. Moreno will always be mad, I don’t think we’re going to escape that, and Flanno (who to his credit performed admirably considering his lengthy lay-off rivalling Sturridge’s) seemed rustier in the pass than the Titanic’s anchor.
Then the rest of the game happened and we got all the feelings. We got frustration, confusion (why can’t these lads pass to each other, at all?) rage, depression, fear, and desperation. We made it through the ninety. Now we have a new set of feelings. Angst, determination, the feeling that surely we’re going to play better at some point, aren’t we? Firmino hits the post, Van Ginkel hits the same post, and the Reds give us more feelings. In truth we control extra time, but in the weakest sense. We get to penalties, and we don’t feel angry, we feel pissed off. Pissed off that we’ve let it get this far, when all we had to do was score one goal in 120 minutes at home in a semi-final playing for a trip to Wembley. But we didn’t, so we get another (un)healthy dose of feelings.
Penalties are a hotbed of feelings – nerves, anguish, joy, grit, pleading to whichever deity fits the bill, despair, and unbridled happiness. The Reds managed it. The Welsh Xavi/Pirlo/Iniesta/Figo/Pele/Tiger woods (or whatever his nickname is this week) smashes one in right out of the top draw. Anfield goes into raptures, we’re off for a jolly down south, it doesn’t matter how we did it at this point, we’ve got ourselves all the good feelings and nothing’s going to ruin that!
The post-match we can afford to reflect, safe in the knowledge that we now have our place guaranteed for the 28th of February. Reflecting brings about some of the bad feelings though. Why did the Reds do that to us? Don’t they understand? Don’t they see? The critics come out in full force, but for the majority of us we’ve come to the end of our grieving process for the Reds form this season, and rested finally at acceptance. Acceptance that following the reds means a bucket load of feelings every single game. Acceptance that Jürgen and co. are not quite there yet. Acceptance that some games we’re going to play shite. For now maybe that’s OK, because one things guaranteed: when we watch the reds, we get ALL the feelings.
We’ve been here before, the high of Manchester City, the low(s) of Manchester United, the high of Chelsea, the low(s) of West Ham, the high of Southampton, the low of Watford. Such is the nature of our season and our form, we could continue that list on and on. Instead though let’s just accept that our Reds, these Reds, don’t take the easy route, they don’t let us relax. They keep us on our toes, keep us guessing, and keep giving us the feelings, whether we like it or not. There’s elements of frustration sure, but the elements of excitement make it all worth it. So let’s all shift forward to the edge of our seat and prepare. Jürgen prefers playing with emotion, let’s just hope we see him smashing up his glasses from all the good feelings when we head to Wembley in a months time.
Up the Reds, keep giving us the feelings.