But hang on a second: just as Manchester United will receive a get out of jail free card for a season free of champagne baths in Wembley dressing rooms, cannot Liverpool languish similarly? I don’t want to sound me too-ish about this, but if United can perform poorly relative to their accustomed level, is Liverpool not entitled to a down period of their own? Sub-question: what is Liverpool’s accustomed level?
And here’s another question still: just how terrible a season is Liverpool actually having? League-wise, we’ve been dire, true, but we did manage the Carling Cup. Fine, the trophy’s a joke - a reserves competition with nice tits - but still, it’s one more than all but three teams placed seventh or higher stand a chance to win. And should Liverpool win the FA Cup against Chelsea on Saturday, you can count it as a tidy little domestic double - a sneaky one, even.
For Liverpool, Saturday afternoon is about salvaging a season’s worth of lost respect. The FA Cup winner gets a spot in the Europa League, which was already guaranteed to the club with their Carling Cup win. Maybe two berths in Europe’s second tier club competition will be enough to lure some quality players to Anfield this summer.
Chelsea’s potential access points to the Champion’s League aren’t much better. They get in by winning this year’s final against Bayern Munich, but given that it’s being played at the Allianz Arena in, ahem, Munich, that game will prove very tough to win indeed. Pair that with a 2-0 midweek loss to Newcastle, which put Chelsea four points behind the Magpies in the race for fourth, and they’re all but out of that last play-in spot. Either way, the FA Cup is the most realistic chance for silverware and European football (even if it is the Europa League) at Stamford Bridge.
A domestic trophy double for Liverpool may numb the shores of the Mersey just enough for Kenny Dalglish to sneak in another sub-par summer on the transfer market. But part of me thinks that even an FA Cup win will ring rather hollow among the faithful. Sure, we’ll sing in the streets and drink our fill, but one can’t help but feel that Liverpool is this year’s Premiership laughing stock. And that says a lot when taking into account a number of clubs with much less to be proud of.
One bright note for Livvie: the game won’t be played at home. Our two wins against Chelsea in London also bode well. The dark notes, well, there are many. Oh god, it’s so hard to be angry anymore. I hate Liverpool.