The outpouring of grief from Liverpool fans following the sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea has been predictable. I can understand their disappointment, but I’m a little surprised at how shocked some of them are. A quick look on their forums reveals various threads devoted to the previously adored Spaniard’s departure, with fans sharing tips on ritual sacrifices to assist the healing process. These seem to mostly involve burning Torres memorabilia, and then going out to buy some more merchandise. Thus the circle of football life continues. But, in welcoming their new number nine, Andy Carroll, I wonder how many Liverpool fans stopped to think that their club’s actions were provoking the exact same response from Newcastle fans? (Excluding this unfortunate fan, who experienced a few technical difficulties with his own shirt burning ritual).
Liverpool are in good company with Newcastle fans who, let’s be honest, are not known for their natural sense of perspective when it comes to football. When Kevin Keegan departed as manager for the second time, I recall one middle aged female fan speaking to a TV reporter, saying “I just feel like me whole life’s ruined”. I do love their enthusiasm for the game, but sometimes I genuinely worry for the mental health of the Geordies.
The bottom line is that for pretty much every team, there is always the threat that your best player might leave. This is truer than it’s ever been. We fans all know this, but some fans – generally those of the ‘big’ clubs – are always more shocked when it happens. When Torres was previously linked with a move to another English club, Liverpool fans tried to convince themselves that Torres’ respect for Liverpool would make such an event impossible. They wont make that mistake again. United can lose players, Inter can lose players, Arsenal can lose players. In fact, the only club that seems immune from this trend is Real Madrid. I can’t recall a scenario where Real have lost a key player against their will, yet they managed to take Luis Figo to the Bernebeu from their arch rivals.
This is football. I know I’m in danger of stating the blindingly obvious, but it’s important, because the hyperbole when a player leaves a club like Liverpool isn’t heard when football league clubs lose a rising star. I accept my post probably contains some bitterness from being subjected to the relentless media coverage of certain clubs. My point is simply that all fans are likely to face disappointment with players, but just because we don’t get media exposure, or have high profile advocates extolling the ‘special’ nature of our club, doesn’t mean we don’t care just as much.