In the shadow of the Kop, a version of the trophy they covet above all sparkled in the midday sun.
Carlos Oynak, the owner of Georgie Porgy’s fast food restaurant on the corner of Walton Breck Road, has been plotting and preparing for this moment since he bought the room eight years ago. It’s a sanctuary in Liverpool, with seats from the old main gallery on the walls.
Standing on a table next to the door, handle against handle with a copy of the European Cup, is a life-size replica of the Premier League trophy. The name of Liverpool has yet to be engraved alongside the previous winners – Carlos didn’t want to be presumptuous – but that moment is coming.
Children play football outside Anfield, the home of Liverpool, during the coronavirus lockout
“Without football, this city is a ghost town,” says Carlos, whose business has suffered severely from this pandemic with no revenue per game. “Football feeds the whole city. I can’t think of what Liverpool would be without it. It’s been so long, 30 years of waiting. The people want to celebrate. “
The idea that people will celebrate, however, worries the authorities. Liverpool, potentially crowned champion in a match at Anfield, has led outside police to indicate that Jurgen Klopp’s team should be sent to a neutral location for their outcome.
It is, frankly, a lazy conclusion that casts doubt on all football fans. Regardless of the crowds flocking by the thousands on beaches and places of beauty, ignoring social distancing and putting pressure on the authorities, it is those who go to the match who will cause the most problems.
When it appeared on Thursday evening that Liverpool might have to play their title decision maker other than Anfield, club officials – not for the first time during the break – were dumbfounded and frustrated by the indication that we couldn’t trust the supporters to stay home.
There has been an indication that Liverpool supporters could not be trusted to stay at home
In April Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson suggested bringing the Premier League back was “a no-go” as fans gathered outside the stadium. His comments left the club so angry that they issued a statement in response, and there was a similar emotion on Friday.
If this is going to be difficult enough for all the teams playing the last nine games of the campaign behind closed doors, why should some people have the added complication of going elsewhere?
You wonder if those who proposed these ideas really made them think.
Liverpool has national support. If Anfield is causing headaches in authority, have they considered Amex stadium? Liverpool play one of their last matches there against Brighton, a city where they have an official supporters club with 2,000 members.
Jurgen Klopp told beIN Sports that Liverpool will have the best fans in the world at home
THE SIX GAMES THE MOST FEARED POLICE
Manchester City v Liverpool
Manchester City v Newcastle
Manchester United vs. Sheffield United
Newcastle v Liverpool
Everton v Liverpool
Liverpool win match
Other games that could be moved include:
Tottenham versus West Ham; Liverpool versus Crystal Palace; West Ham against Chelsea, Liverpool against Aston Villa; Crystal Palace versus Chelsea; Liverpool versus Burnley; Tottenham against Arsenal; Liverpool versus Chelsea; Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham
“I understand people’s concerns,” said Benny Punk, president of the Brighton branch. “But it’s a level of distrust that goes back to the 1980s. It’s lazy discrimination. The idea that there are going to be massive groups of unruly people is very, very unfair.
“The people who gather in numbers are not exclusive to football. If Jurgen Klopp came out and said the day before the match, “Don’t come to the stadium”, I’m sure people would respect him. “
With impeccable timing, Klopp released some public comments shortly after. In a conversation with Richard Keys and Andy Gray on beIN Sports, the manager of Liverpool explained: “We have the best fans in the world, so now we can have the best fans in the world. “
And you should know that the vast majority will want to stay at home. In other words: if you waited 30 years to see your team become champion, what would you do? Go to the stadium, where there are no pubs or open shops or big screens showing the action, or watch the game?
“I live just down the road,” said Connor Irvine, a 24-year-old Liverpool fan from Australia who came to town. “I’ve been in the area since the lockdown and everywhere you go, people respect social distance and take appropriate action.
“The fans are not stupid. They won’t do anything to threaten us with the title. I know that being there, the loudest thing that has ever existed outside of Anfield was not after a football match – it was after Pink’s concert last June. It’s not fair to blame things only on football. “
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah pictured during a training session at the Melwood Training Ground
Half of the city has been living since then and it is likely that the vast majority will not be able to contain themselves, a point illustrated when Merseyside deputy chief constable Rob Carden said his forces were “Ready to provide all police services is required – we have no objections”.
They are not stupid. They know people will want to go to Anfield if and when the title is won, but the main difference is that any rally will start long after the games are over. It was always going to be the case whether they won it in the northeast or on the south coast.
“The match in Madrid last year left 1,000 people out of the stadium overnight,” said Carlos Oynak, referring to the Champions League final victory over Tottenham. “It is their home, it is their main place. So much has happened, some people will not want to celebrate in their garden. “
But many will. The time will come in the future when it will be good for them to assemble en masse, but for now, the potential parties must be small. In a city that has been crippled by the many effects of the coronavirus, no one will need to be warned twice. The trophy is all they want.
Virgil van Dijk controls the ball as he prepares for the resumption of the Premier League on June 17