Liverpool drew with Leeds United in a game of football this evening.
And that, really, is about as much I’m prepared to write about the matter.
Sure, I could talk about Sadio Mane and Diego Llorente, about Jurgen Klopp and Marcelo Bielsa. I could go on about pressing and energy, give my take on midfield battles, attacking genius and defensive insecurities.
I could even mention what this result means in terms of the Premier League table. Liverpool miss the chance to go fourth while Leeds remain 10th; all still to play for, with six matches remaining.
But who cares about all that right now?
No seriously, who cares?
This was a fixture rendered meaningless by events of the previous 36 hours, a game played against a backdrop of rebellion and revolt. Football, football as we know it, is in crisis, and until that is resolved then you’ll have to forgive us for ignoring the top-four battle, Naby Keita’s struggles or the curious disappearance of Ben Davies.
How did it come to this? How can a few billionaires and executives threaten to upend the entire balance of the world’s most popular sport?
How can Liverpool’s players and staff, none of whom have had a say in the club’s decision to commit to a new breakaway Super League, be greeted with chants of “scum” and “greedy b*stards”, as they were upon their arrival at Elland Road here?
All the while those who drove this move remain silent. While the fire rages, Fenway Sports Group have offered no comment. They didn’t even feature on the story which dropped on their club’s official website late on Sunday evening, announcing the plans which could, if seen through, completely change the face of domestic and European football as we know it.
Instead the press release, sketchy and insufficient, quoted Joel Glazer, the co-chairman of Manchester United, as well as Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
A Kop out, if ever there was one.
Make no mistake, Liverpool fans are angry about this. It may only have been a crowd of a hundred or so which greeted Klopp and his team here, but the sentiments expressed are shared across the game.
This week the supporters group Spion Kop 1906 will remove their iconic flags and banners from the Kop ahead of the weekend fixture with Newcastle. “We feel we can no longer give our support to a club which puts financial greed above integrity of the game,” they posted.
Spirit of Shankly, the Liverpool supporters union, called the Super League plans, which were leaked to The Times on Sunday afternoon, “embarrassing” and said they were “appalled” by news of their club’s involvement.
“FSG have ignored fans in their relentless and greedy pursuit of money,” they added.
“Football is ours not theirs. Our football club is ours not theirs.”
That’s huge. These are some of the most passionate, loyal supporters in football, people who devote their lives and their wages to their club, who follow Liverpool around the world, and they are ashamed, driven to despair by what they are witnessing.
As ever, it is the fans who suffer first and are considered last. They have been forced to stay at home for the best part of a year, made to endure the horrors of VAR and now this.
The Beautiful Game, eh?
You felt for Klopp, forced to field questions that should be answered by those above him here. The Reds boss has already stated his position on a proposed Super League; he’s against it, and fair play to him, he hadn’t altered his stance when asked about it pre-match. He didn’t exactly go in hard against his bosses, but he made his feelings clear enough.
“I like the competitive aspect of football,” Klopp said. “I like that West Ham might play in the Champions League. I don’t want them to because we want to, but I like they have the chance.”
He confirmed that neither he nor his players had been consulted before the news was revealed, while Goal understands that club staff were only informed of the proposals in an email from Billy Hogan, the chief executive, on Monday morning.
“We know that this announcement has provoked strong feelings within the game and elsewhere,” wrote Hogan, who replaced Peter Moore in the role last September. “But we believe this decision is in the best long-term interests of Liverpool Football Club.”
There are some within the game, and some within Liverpool even, who still believe this to be a power play, an extreme case of brinkmanship, designed to bully UEFA into allowing clubs greater power and control within the original Champions League structure. Many think a compromise will eventually be found.
It seems a long way off at the moment, though, with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin talking about “snakes” and how those involved have “spat in the face of all football lovers”. Ceferin has stated that all players from clubs involved in the Super League will be banned from playing for their respective countries while Jesper Moller, of UEFA’s executive committee, has suggested that Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid may be expelled from this season’s Champions League, the semi-finals of which are due to take place later this month.
Make no mistake; football is at war, and Liverpool are right in the middle of it. They drew here, but they have lost overall. The damage they and their 11 cohorts have done this week will take some repairing.
Football without fans is nothing, and Liverpool’s may never forgive their club for this.