So we’re at the stage of the season where a win would be delightful, if not essential, so what game do we get? That’s right we get Liverpool, with just about the only bonus being that the Scousers aren’t desperate for a change of luck. Otherwise what should be a formality would immediately become a racing certainty.
For the benefit of any visitors who might remember Peter Crouch breaking his duck at Anfield a few years back, that wasn’t the first time that we’d done some down on their heels club or player a lift up, not was it the last.
Why bring it up now? Well, it’s about time that someone returned the favour and we might as well start asking for it in this game, especially seeing as how for the first time, someone else seems to have brought up the label that no one, outside of the DW seems that willing to stick on the blue and white stripes. Yes, Rafa’s gone and called us a “club fighting for relegation”.
Now I assume that the strange construction of that phrase is down to a misquote or his command of the Queen’s, but it is strangely apt. Given that none of the sides in the bottom eight or so seems particularly keen on breaking free and that Latics in particular seem bent on finding new levels of despair as the weeks go by. Still, I’m in a glass half full mood at the moment and surely it can only be a matter of time until something goes the right way for Bobby’s boys.
If the missing ingredient at the moment really is confidence, if the players really are struggling with the pressure of their situation, then maybe this game is just what they need. With no expectations and the pressure off it represents a chance, as the sign at Christopher Park says, for Latics to enjoy their football.
Could it be as simple as that? Well, tell me that the last few games haven’t been typified by a lethargy, a stiffness and a feeling that somehow Latics are restricted. I don’t buy that the results against Villa and Chelsea were sheer flukes, instead I see them as what can happen when Latics play without shackles, when they enjoy the moment and express themselves.
One of my favourite moments from the chat with Roberto on Thursday cam when he was setting me straight for suggesting that mental strength we need comes with experience.
“Sometimes this youth is better than any sort of experience.
For example before we played Chelsea I told them that we are going to win today. A youngster like James McCarthy will look at you and say ‘Yes, we are going to win today.’ And a Mario Melchiot will say ‘Yeah, of course we are! I have been there seven times before and we have never beaten them so I don’t think we are going to beat them.’
Sometimes you need to use that naivety.”
Perhaps more importantly, we need to find ways of avoiding the cynicism of age and experience. Getting rid of that voice in the back of your head that says “no chance” and letting yourself believe. Of course it will hurt more if we fall on our faces, but why not give it a go, get some of that blind faith we keep talking about.
You know, just get behind the lads and see what happens. If we all get in the spirit then the lads might follow suit. If we let ourselves go then they might too. If we let ourselves enjoy the experience of being at home, watching our boys play Liverpool then who knows what will happen. A new attitude, a new pitch and a new result, maybe?
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