In one week’s time, outside King Harry’s, tension and red smoke will fill the air, making it hard to breathe. When Liverpool drew City, Kopites immediately knew what was expected of them and in one week’s time, they will show it.
The Reds need all the help they can get to get through the quarter finals, and the supporters will play a massive part in this first leg. The by far best team in England, arguably the best team in Europe (Manchester City are second favourites to win the Champions League on RedsBet at 16/5. Liverpool 12/1), will be met by an atmosphere they’ve never witnessed. An atmosphere money can’t buy, an atmosphere that feels so important, so significant, more than it has since the Europa League run two years back. And despite the press and police trying to shut it down, the coach will be greeted by supporters.
This has been standard procedure ahead of important games at Anfield over the last few years. Red smoke bombs, an occasional flare, an endless repertoire of Liverpool songs. It started in the 2013/2014 season when we all thought we could win the league, and has since been reserved for the big European nights. The one ahead of the Villarreal match made the headlines, when nearby scaffolding was cladded in flags and banners and young scousers. It was dangerous but it looked incredible. The press took notice, and the Mirror called the European nights at Anfield “pretty special”. https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/row-zed/watch-liverpool-fans-welcome-team-7906253 A few years later and the same press call the greeting “explosive but ILLEGAL”.
All because some loser on Twitter wanted retweets and attention, and decided to type up the woolest poster. It encouraged supporters to meet up by the ground with “flares and flags, pints and pyro”, to “scare em back to Mancland”. The cringe. The shame. It blew up on Twitter and then came the aftermath; Pep fuming, Merseyside Police issuing warnings. The tabloid press will have all eyes on Anfield Road in one week’s time, looking for scandals to fit their extreme headlines.
The point of these coach greetings was never to scare the opposition. It was to get the Reds motivated, triggered, galvanised. Show it and shove it in their faces what this means to us. It should be enjoyable, get players and supporters going, a pre-party ahead of the Anfield affair. And most importantly, no bloody posters telling anyone what to do. It should be organic.
That’s why most of us don’t want a drum. That’s why most of us don’t want some melt with a megaphone standing at the front of the Kop with his back to the pitch, telling us when and what to sing. That’s why the (fake) news of Old Trafford considering handing out song sheets to improve the atmosphere was hilarious but also terrifying. It’s not real support, not real passion, and the closer it gets to a Premier League ground, the closer it gets to us.
After all of City’s whinging, the usual upbeat atmosphere will no doubt turn more hostile. They’ve been desperately trying to construct a rivalry and for that one night, we’ll give them one. And what will happen to the players’ coach? Perhaps they’ve realised they don’t have to drive down Anfield Road to get to the ground? Perhaps they come in the other way, down Arkles Lane or decide to creep through some narrower roads, but I doubt it. If they do decide to brave it and go through the sea of thousands of Reds, the bus will no doubt be littered with toilet roll and empty cans. But hopefully that’s it.
When the Reds’ characteristic red coach has to ease its way through the crowd in one week’s time, every single player on board will be made undoubtedly aware of what this means. What this means to the supporters that go to every game, home and away. The supporters that have won the lottery and are there for a first, second or fifth time. And also, the supporters watching it from their homes. The Reds represent all of us on the pitch, on a day when players and supporters merge in red smoke. We will be up for it, will they?
Man City 7/5