2 May ~ Liverpool find themselves in the awkward position of potentially crowning bitter rivals Manchester United as Premier League champions today. If Liverpool defeat Chelsea, United could set up their 19th League title by beating Sunderland today and Stoke next week, while also going above Liverpool as the most successful club in the history of English football.
Liverpool fans will remember a similar situation occurring at the end of the 1994-95 season, when Blackburn Rovers, managed by Kenny Dalglish, travelled to Anfield on the final day as champions-in-waiting. However, if Rovers lost, and United could win at West Ham, then Sir Alex Ferguson's team would secure their third successive title. Liverpool meanwhile needed a win to stand any chance of securing a place in Europe the following season.
At half time things were looking good for Rovers, as they led through Alan Shearer's goal, while Michael Hughes had given the Hammers the lead at Upton Park. In the second half, however, John Barnes and Brian McClair levelled for Liverpool and United respectively, and the race was on again. Rovers held on until the 90th minute, when Jamie Redknapp curled a 25-yard free-kick past Tim Flowers. Celebrations from supporters and players alike were muted.
Then celebrations erupted on the Rovers bench, as news filtered through that United had been unable to find a winner. The news spread to the stands, leading to 40,000 home fans raucously joining in the celebrations and revelling in United's misery. Liverpool qualified for the UEFA Cup by a single point after Leeds United failed to beat Tottenham.
Liverpool now face a similar situation. A win would just about keep their hopes of a top-four finish alive, but doing so would mean that United would be in pole position to overhaul Liverpool's record of 18 titles which has stood since 1980. Fans appear divided on the issue, with some hoping that they lose as fourth is out of the equation already, while other supporters believe that the players are professionals and therefore should show some pride and go all out for the victory.
As a Liverpool fan myself, I have also struggled with this dilemma, the main problem being that I despise Chelsea almost as much as I hate United. There is not one player in the Chelsea team I like, either as a player, or as a human being. I laughed at an interview with Ruud Gullit in Thursday's Daily Mirror, in which he claimed Carlo Ancelotti had made Chelsea "loveable". A team that contains John Terry, Ashley Cole and Didier Drogba is "loveable"? Seriously?
Having said that, the vision of scouse-hater Gary Neville lifting the Premier League trophy into the Manchester sky is simply too much bear. The loss of the record is not something which concerns me, as it can be regained at any time. It is more the endless gloating that will inevitably come from United fans. My mum and youngest brother are both United supporters and I can't contemplate the prospect of spending the next year with my hands clamped tightly over my ears. Neal Widdows