On football burnout and the events of Liverpool’s final season

I don’t want the new season to start.

This writer isn’t the first and only one to think this, surely, but it seems a bit isolated as we are two days away from the first game of the new Premier League campaign and the thought remains as everyone expresses their enthusiasm and/or anxiety.

For all the accomplishments last season, it was exhausting simply from a fan’s perspective – far less so than the players and staff. The thought of going again for every match possible is exhausting in itself.

About two months is barely long enough to get over heartbreak like the one that happened at the end of last season. Not only losing the Champions League final, but in the middle of everything that happened around it. Losing the Premier League title by single digits – again.

Yes, last season was memorable. Accomplishments to be proud of. Performance and character like Liverpool haven’t seen in years. The kind of boost you can only hope for from your team. The women’s team went 22 matches unbeaten and gained promotion to the FA WSL by winning the FA Women’s Championship. The first FA Cup for… a long time. The first League Cup for more than ten years. It almost made the grief worse, knowing there was still so much to be proud of. Has that made me an ungrateful fan? The one who was able to go to Paris for the Champions League final, and return to Liverpool the next day for the trophy parade? See Calvin Harris explode while Jordan Henderson danced with one of those trophies, amid red smoke and confetti?

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How to be ungrateful after such an experience?

And how do you take just a month and a few changes to get over that bitterness and pain, to get ready to start all over again?

I understand how the players and the staff did it, how they could part ways – it’s their job, not their life. They had various vacations, opportunities to rest and spend time with loved ones. They are paid much more than me and get much more out of their participation in the game. Even a lot has been said about rest and rejuvenation, many expect Mohamed Salah to have entered this period after his various disappointments from the last year.

As fans, we don’t have that luxury, as we still have to go back to our normal jobs and sit with our own disappointments. We choose to be a part of this fandom, giving away our passion with nothing but having the secondary experience of these accomplishments in return.

It may look bleak – it certainly is on this side, heading into Saturday. Saturday will be a 4:30 kickoff for this writer and regardless of the time, every thought on that first game gives me a feeling of tightening around my core. I’m not ready to be hurt again, not ready to give so much and be disappointed again.

Did I feel this in 2014? Or 2019? I don’t remember, and maybe it’s getting better. Knowing this of course, exhaustion and burnout will eventually go away. We must continue, return to the field, return to the bar, return in front of the television for the match. The only way to overcome heartache is to set yourself free, right? Some other fans watched the pre-season only to come back to it with games without any stakes. I’ve only been able to watch that stupid video clip from the phone more than ten times. The thought of lighting up a football game feeds those seeds of anxiety in me.

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I don’t know if I can get there right away, if I can get there on Saturday. This fan may still have to heal at her own pace, and that’s okay either. Watching from home under a weighted blanket, imagining it’s the weight of a hug from Jordan Henderson, telling myself that everything will be fine – even if maybe the team isn’t playing well.

It will be fine because of course I can be sad and anxious for a myriad of reasons, including the emotional toll of supporting Liverpool Football Club, but I’m alive and I’ve had times like these.

I’ll get over it and get back to the fandom eventually.

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