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The Entertainers – Should Newcastle Fans Want Liverpool To Win The League?

8 years ago
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This season we’ve seen the rebirth of the entertainers. We’ve seen a side playing stylish, attacking, total football, with the ‘you score three we score four’ philosophy. We’ve seen an English core, adorned with exceptional foreign talents take the Premier League by storm. This isn’t the mid-nineties Toon under Keegan, or the early-noughties Toon under Robson. This is the mid-tens and it isn’t the Toon. The team I’m talking about is, of course, Liverpool.

For my entire life I have harboured an inherent dislike for Liverpool. I don’t why. Everyone has their clubs they don’t get on with. For some reason mine are (disregarding the obvious of Man U and Sunderland) Liverpool and Tottenham. I think the Liverpool hatred stems from that classic 4-3 loss that began the downturn that saw us throw away the title like it was burnt toast. This animosity has been groomed over the years since we’ve received regular hidings from the Scousers without ever really returning the favour. Post that 4-3 capitulation, our best result against Liverpool is a 3-1 win. Liverpool have beaten us 3-0 five times, 5-1 and I don’t need to tell anyone the record breaking score in last season’s head-to-head.

This season, however, my negativity towards Liverpool has lifted slightly. It took a long time. Initially I hoped they wouldn’t even make the top four. I rejoiced at the defeats by Hull and Southampton. Then came an unprecedented winning streak. Liverpool won, won and won some more. Not only did they win, they brought goals to the equation. The front three of Sterling, Sturridge and Suarez was nothing short of sublime. It almost makes me harbour faint hopes of a successfulish World Cup.

If we play a similar formation to Liverpool, substituting Suarez for Rooney maybe we could scrape through the group of death. You could argue they’ve been even more entertaining than nineties Newcastle as they have scored thirty-three more goals and conceded twelve more than our boys did.

Yes, Liverpool have been an absolute joy to watch and an occasional distraction to the rigid, tactless and underwhelming style of football I’ve had to put up with from my own team. When Liverpool defeated Man City a couple of weeks ago, I decided that they were the team that were getting my vote in this year’s title race. Once upon a time the Toon were everyone’s second team. Everyone wanted to watch them on MOTD, everyone tuned in to the live games.

Now anyone that’s recorded MOTD probably fast forward through our coverage quicker than they do Kevin Kilbane’s analysis. Okay, so our breed of entertainers fell short but at last a team may win the league playing football the way it should be played.

A week later the Chelsea game came along. I’d spent all week telling friends that I wanted Liverpool to win the league for the reasons I’ve outlined above. However, within minutes of the game kicking off, a darkness descended over me. All the previous hurt from throwing away the title came hurtling towards me through an eighteen year time warp. Visions of Ginola, Ferdinand, Beardsley and Lee appearing disconsolate flashed into my mind. Sir Alex’s gum chewing, wine tinged likeness span like a Catherine Wheel in front of me, tauntingly. Stan Collymore racing off in celebration and Kevin Keegan slumped over the advertising hoarding injected themselves unbidden into my consciousness.

All my former abhorrence reasserted itself within me and I began to will on Chelsea. ‘If we couldn’t do it why should they’, I asked myself. So, yes, I smiled grimly as a boring Chelsea won playing football the wrong way. This season Chelsea have just looked like a Newcastle with investment!  Again against Palace I celebrated as a three goal lead disintegrated. I didn’t want to see the return of the entertainers under Liverpool. The rise of Liverpool hadn’t been therapeutic. It just reminded me of all of our own shortcomings over the last decade.

The former entertainers and the new entertainers meet on Sunday on the last day of the season. A Man City draw and a fourteen goal Liverpool victory would give the title to the Reds. How depressing is it to admit that I can’t rule out Liverpool playing their part in this?

You can follow Billy on Twitter @billymerlin

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