Well. It looks like the worst is finally going to happen. For years, the only consolation that us Liverpool fans had in the face of the relentless, utterly complete and irresistible dominance of Manchester United was that we were still the most successful British team, still had the most European cups, still had the most league titles. Today, or next week, barring any extremely unlikely upsets, Utd will be crowned English champions and will draw level with Liverpool's record of 18 league titles. It will now only be our five European cups that will give us any source of bragging rites, and Utd are only two behind us and are in the final this year. Dark days, dark days indeed.
But surprisingly, I don't really mind. It is an unavoidable truth that United have been far, far superior to Liverpool for the last twenty years and, barring the occasional red-mist and adrenaline fuelled derby victory over them, not even the most rabid and prejudiced fan can argue with that. Ferguson is a manager of rare genius that seems to effortlessly keep spinning the plates of modern football management: tactical brilliance; managing a group of ridiculously overpaid cry baby brats; mind games that reduce opponents - including Benitez - almost to tears; rally-cries that stir even the most hard-hearted of onlookers; a healthy dose of gamesmanship, or 'cheating' as it used to be called. To make things much worse, Ferguson to me seems to be a manager in the mould of the legendary Liverpool boot room tradition, with the most obvious comparison being with the great Bill Shankley: both Scottish; both of proud socialist stock; both a bit mad.
So, I can't help feeling that this is the end of an era for Liverpool somehow. The inertia has run out; we no longer have our history to give us succour us through the leaner times. And I think that is a good thing. The hunger has to come back now. We all knew Liverpool were playing catch up in financial terms, now that fact will be cemented and solid and we will have to move heaven and earth to get back to the top and humble United once more.
At least we're on a par with them this year. There can't be many teams that have only lost twice in a season and not won the title. Which only goes to show how good United really are, how great the challenge is to overhaul them. Arsenal briefly challenged them, Chelsea even more fleetingly got one up over them. Can we do it? And can we start another era of domincance?
Hey, maybe we can do it this season. Come on Arsenal! Come on Hull! I'd love it if we beat them. Love it!