SRINIVAS SADHANAND | 20th April 2021

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sit through it. And ironically enough in a game that serves as the perfect advertisement for the Premier League. On one side, you have a European juggernaut like Liverpool and then there’s Leeds United, who play a breathless brand of football that you’d watch any day of the week rather than so many of the elite sides we champion. And if you’re unfamiliar with what Jurgen Klopp and Marcelo Bielsa bring to football itself, I hope your WiFi’s working because you need to do your due diligence.

You didn’t have to sell this fixture to me to watch it. You don’t need to give me a crash course on “Premier League For Dummies”. I am a “legacy fan”, as the architects of the European Super League like to put it. And yet, I almost felt like I’d forgotten how to watch football when the game kicked off. And that’s despite Leeds making a powerful statement that resonated with me through their warm-up t-shirts.

I tried to get into it, taking note of how Liverpool were playing at an impressive tempo, trying to hype myself up when Thiago tested Islan Meslier from outside the box. Notice how I said tried and trying in the same sentence? Trying implies effort, something that watching football has never been. And yet, I recall myself staring into space and playing back the highlights of a day where every football fan, keeping pettiness, agendas and rivalries aside stood together to fight against the farce of the ESL.

Despite the dialogue being centered around saving football, an actual game seemed insignificant to me. The fact that things had gone from whispers around the Super League for years to football clubs tweeting about it out in the open was gut-wrenching. Whether it actually comes to fruition or not, the audacity itself was vile.

From recalling the horrific takes on modern football by ESL head honcho, Florentino Perez to visualizing certain flashbacks of iconic Premier League moments, things just didn’t feel the same as I snapped back to reality, seeing Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane play a one two.

And while forcing myself to enjoy a game that looked end-to-end, I also just remember thinking, “who cares?” Who cares if Liverpool beat Leeds and march on in their hunt for the Top 4? The revamped Champions League format sounds and well, is painstaking anyway.

I was grumbling away in my thoughts. The disinterest reached a point where I was watching proceedings from the corner of my eye and everything looked like a blur. I might as well have been watching the ‘Liverpool Falcons’ versus the ‘Leeds White Sox’. The deceit from the clubs we know and love reached a point where pretending to care seemed like a bigger chore than caring.

Football felt soulless. And the Americanization of football is pointless.

I’ve been bored while watching football before. I’ve lost interest and switched games off midway. And that’s how I know I’m not making a mountain out of a molehill. There was an element of heartbreak in watching two breathtaking sides in action with the monstrosities taking over football in the background.

It didn’t feel right. It almost seemed like bad timing, probably because everything football’s top dogs have been plotting is in bad taste. And until there is a solution or an answer that sits right with the men, women and children- the fans who make the game what it is, it never will.

And while football fans like you and I can dust ourselves off, pretend like this never happened and move on like we usually do, should we? Probably not and that’s me trying to make sure I don’t ramble on. But we should neither forgive nor forget.

14 minutes in- a 14 minutes I spent in my thoughts and on my phone while almost pretending to myself like I cared about 90 minutes of football, I didn’t. I watch football out of my love for it. And if a times comes where I’m forcing myself to enjoy it, I know I’ve fallen out of love with it and I’ll call it a day. Like so many of us.

There’s never been a better time to say the game’s gone.