By Shaun Bowden (@shaun_bowden)
It’s been over two months since we last saw the Reds in Premier League action. And what a painstakingly long two months it’s been.
The date is March 7th 2020, Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are in town, and strikes from Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane secure Liverpool’s 22nd consecutive victory at Anfield; a feat that breaks the English top-flight record set by Bill Shankly’s boys back in ’72. Now 25 points clear of holders Manchester City, Jordan Henderson and co. have one hand on the Premier League trophy… oh what could have been!
Fast forward to May 10th, and Boris Johnson’s controversial coronavirus update means that the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ is looking closer than ever, and the ‘null and void’ brigade seem to have quietened down somewhat. The green light from the government – which (provisionally) allows professional sport to return from June 1st – will spark delight and optimism in the hearts of millions of Liverpool fans across the world. Indeed, 30 years of waiting – 30 years of hurt – could finally be over.
However, if the football season does return and Jurgen’s men claim the title, or even if it isn’t completed, there’s the very real possibility of a tiny little asterisk being placed next to our name. At least that’s what rival fans are begging for – because that would be such a ‘bad’ thing… or would it?
Of course, it’s not the way we’d like to celebrate our first league title in 30 years, but as Jurgen Klopp said, football is “the most important of the least important things”. That potential asterisk will predictably be used by trolls and rival fans as so-called ‘bait’ on social media for years and years to come. But as I said, that’s not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing.
We all know that the Reds have been absolutely unstoppable in the league this year, and yes, deep down Manchester United and Everton fans know it too. It’s undeniable; yet somehow, to many that asterisk will be a way of saying that they didn’t deserve it. I’ve seen the phrase ‘tainted title’ trending on Twitter. I even saw an Everton fan post his asterisk banner he made at home with card and crayons. Even Gary Neville has said he’ll wear an asterisk t-shirt if we’re handed the title.
You know what I say, ‘crack on lads’.
If you take a glance at the list of previous Premier League winners, all you’ll see is the year of the season and the name of the club. You won’t see a special symbol for Arsenal’s invincibles. You won’t see a glistening star next to ‘Manchester City 2018’ commemorating their 100 point season, and you won’t see anything to highlight Leicester’s 5000/1 title. Nothing. Nowt.
However, what’s that next to Liverpool’s name in 2020? (I’m talking hypothetically of course). Oh, it’s that ‘terrible’ asterisk which brings attention to our wonderful form and substantial lead at the summit.
Oh, I forgot to mention, it also points out that we won it in the most challenging league season ever – you know, the one which was curtailed by the onset of a global pandemic!
You see, in 20 or 30 years time when I’m sat at home with my children looking back on the great teams of the past, they’ll ask me, “What was the asterisk for, dad? Then I’ll tell them about the real heroes of 2020 – not just our incredible team, but the NHS staff, the carers, and all the front-line workers who protected us and kept this country going during the biggest challenge we’re likely to face for a generation (or two).
That big, supposedly ‘bad’, asterisk will forever point to the year ‘2020’; the year we as a country came together and battled the coronavirus; the year the NHS got the praise they deserve; the year retail workers were valued higher than the highest earners; and the year Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were absolutely boss.
Bring on the asterisk. It’s actually quite befitting.