By Paul Tomkins.
Totally mental. In every sense of the word:
1 relating to the mind: mental faculties | mental phenomena.
• done by or occurring in the mind: a quick mental calculation | she made a mental note to ring him later.
2 of or relating to disorders or illnesses of the mind: a mental hospital.
• [ predic. ] informal mad; insane: I think he was a little worried that I might be mental.
go mental informal lose one’s self-control, typically as a result of anger or excitement: the home crowd were going mental.
I am of course dreaming, and none of this is really happening. I will wake up, check the league table, and Liverpool will be 7th, Luis Suarez in Spain, Jon Flanagan a failing full-back at Fulham, Daniel Sturridge a one-season wonder, Sterling an unfulfilled talent, Henderson a waste of money and Brendan Rodgers a man whose talk doesn’t match his achievements.
There’s nothing more ‘mental’ than a dramatic game existing purely within your mind, while you sleep; a mere illusion for you to wake up to, cold with disappointment. I think I see Martin Skrtel slapping his own face, to try and wake from the dream within the dream, but I’m too old to be caught out by this basic dream tactic. You don’t fool me, Martin, just as you don’t score twice as many league goals as Fernando Torres. I mean, as if?
Therefore, I can but conclude that none of this is real, because this just doesn’t happen.
However … Let’s just say that it could happen. What would it feel like?
My guess is that it would cause thousands of fans to congregate around Anfield hours before kick off, flares and flags in the air as the team disembark from the coach. I imagine that Anfield would be buzzing; perhaps its most hyped-up since Chelsea were turned over in 2005. I imagine that Luis Suarez would be in the thick of everything – good, bad and phenomenal. I imagine that Steven Gerrard would get quite emotional. Indeed, I imagine that Liverpool’s players would need psychiatric help.
Remember, though: this does not happen. Teams do not leap from outside the top four to the title; the last time it happened Everton were a good side, rising from 7th to the title, back in 1985. Before then, according to statistician Ged Rea, a further 31 teams had risen a similar or greater distance; making it roughly a one-in-three occurrence. But of course, it doesn’t happen in the era of oligarchs and sheiks, where three decades have passed since anyone witnessed such an event.
Let’s get another thing straight: teams also don’t win the Premier League with rookie managers; not anymore, not with so many experienced bosses out there, from all over the world, with loads of trophies to their name. This isn’t the ‘80s, when both Liverpool and Everton had good sides. Those days are long gone, along with big specs and synth-pop music. I mean, if it was the ‘80s, Man United would be shit, right?
In this vivid dream of mine, I picture an unfathomable number of dramatic moments on the way to a ten-game winning run, leaving just four to play to tie up the title. But teams don’t go on 14-game winning runs; especially not teams who never win more than three or four on the bounce. Winning four on the spin needs no great miracles, of course; but Liverpool would never, in reality, get themselves into such a position. So let’s quash that idea right now. It’s a chimera, no more, no less.
It’s also as good as a fact that teams that haven’t been in the title race the season before do not lead the table with four games remaining. If they were to hit the front at the end of March, it would be too early; they’d lose the next game or two, out of sheer panic. You could bet your house that they’d lose away at West Ham, or conspire to mess it up at home to Sunderland. You know it, I know it. Even the players know it. All this fooling ourselves is only going to lead to disappointment.
So wake me up in mid-May, and not before. Because, as the saying goes, I’d like to, well … dream on.